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Ferdinand contract delay concerns Man Utd

The Times says Ferdinand's advisers told the club that he will not discuss a new deal before the summer. United are eager to open talks with Ferdinand over an extension to his contract, which expires at the end of next season, but the England defender's agent, Pini Zahavi, has instructed that negotiations will not start before the summer.

The Old Trafford hierarchy is hoping that an agreement will be reached quickly at that point, but, given that it took 16 months and considerable angst between opening talks and sealing a deal when Ferdinand signed his present contract, it is apprehensive about the situation.

United are also aware that the 29-year-old has expressed an ambition to play in Italy or Spain towards the end of his career and that, because he would be eligible to leave on a free transfer if no deal is agreed by June 2009, he and Zahavi will be in a strong bargaining position when negotiations start.

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