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Nemanja Vidic to leave Manchester United after the season

Once one of the world's best centerbacks, Nemanja Vidic has battled age and injury, a fight that will now take him away from Old Trafford.

Michael Regan

Nemanja Vidic will leave Manchester United after the season. The central defender's contract expires this summer and he has decided to move elsewhere.

"It’s the last year of my contract and I have had eight wonderful years here," Vidic said in a statement. "My time at this great club will always rank as the best years of my career."

Vidic won five Premier League titles with United, the Champions League and the League Cup three times. He partnered with Rio Ferdinand to make for one of the best central defensive pairings in the world, but age and injuries have hindered him in the last three years. He's battled two serious knee injuries, as well as a handful of other smaller knocks, limiting his time on the field.

Wherever Vidic goes this summer, it will not be in England. He made it clear that United is the only club he will play for in the country so he will move to another league for next season.

"I’m not considering staying in England as the only club I ever wanted to play for here is Manchester United and I was lucky enough to be part of this club for so many years. I’ve got a few options to move on and I will choose the right one for me and for my family."

Internazionale have been linked to him for several months, while a few other Italian clubs make sense, including Fiorentina, who almost signed him in 2006 before United swooped in.

Vidic's departure makes sense for both he and the club. The days of a Vidic and Ferdinand partnership are long gone and United need to get both younger and better in defense. That means going out and buying a central defender or two because they need to find a long-term, dependable pairing and it's tough to imagine David Moyes making that happen with Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.