Manchester United will open contract talks with Rio Ferdinand at the end of the current campaign.
The England centre-half's current deal expires at the end of the 2008/09 season and, in line with United's renewal policy under the Glazer regime, negotiations will begin 12 months before the end of that contract.
Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson has been exasperated with attempts to tie fellow England defender Wes Brown to an extension and last week issued a broadside on players who 'live in the pockets' of their agents.
Brown has yet to sign a new deal and Ferguson will hope to avoid any such hold-ups with 29-year-old Ferdinand, who has developed a formidable partnership with Nemanja Vidic at the back.
Ferdinand's current deal was signed in 2005 after several months of negotiation.
When they were a plc, United's policy was to start talks two years before a player's deal expired and the new arrangement does leave the club more vulnerable to players leaving on a free transfer, as Brown will be able to do at the end of the season.