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Oct 30, 2009

Rio's agent blames form woes on fitness issues

Pini Zahavi - friend, mentor and agent to Rio Ferdinand - has revealed to ESPN Soccernet the real reasons behind the problems confronting the Manchester United star.

• Fergie not friendly with FA over England's Doha tie
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Zahavi explained how a series of injuries have been been responsible for the run of bad form that has struck down the defender.

The England international's long-time agent gave a rare interview to ESPN Soccernet to clear up the recent avalanche of speculation that Ferdinand is past his sell-by date and should be axed by club and country.

The reclusive Israeli super agent Zahavi told me: "All the speculation about Rio's ability is totally incorrect. Rio will be back to his best when he has finally cleared up a succession of injuries.

"He has had a lot of bad luck with injuries this season. He has had about four injuries, and because of his desire to do well for Manchester United he will turn out even if he is not 100%, and for him that has been a big mistake, because it has affected his form.

"But don't worry, Rio is the same player, with the same abilities, and he will show it the minute he is back fully fit again.

"At the moment he has a calf injury and that is the reason he will be missing from the Manchester Untied team, not because he has been dropped. Both Rio and [Nemanja] Vidic have injuries and it is a difficult time for United."

Sir Alex Ferguson and Fabio Capello will, though, be well aware of the problems that have been mounting up for Ferdinand, and that is why they have no doubts about the England centre-half eventually returning to his formidable best.

Friday's newspapers linked Ferdinand with a move to Spurs, where his old West Ham manager Harry Redknapp is showing willingness to "rescue" Rio. But Zahavi dismisses any need for anyone to rescue Rio, who turns 31 on November 7, from Old Trafford.

Zahavi told me: "I don't know anything about any move to Spurs in the summer, I have never heard of it."

As Zahavi knows most big deals in world football, as one of the best informed agents in the game, if he hasn't heard of a move to Spurs then no one has.

And, of course, if Ferdinand is involved in any transfer than Zahavi would be at the hub of it, as he has been in both of the £30 million defender's big money moves.

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