West Ham United have finalised the transfer of Anton Ferdinand to Sunderland on Wednesday afternoon for an undisclosed fee.
The club accepted the bid after failing to reach agreement with the defender over a new long-term contract. The 23-year-old, who missed the first two league games this season with a hamstring injury, also had just two years left on his existing deal. As such the transfer was felt in the best interests of the club - especially with the number of defensive options available and the emergence of promising youngsters.
England international Matthew Upson and Calum Davenport have begun the season in Alan Curbishley's side while the Wales defender James Collins is back in full training. The club also have several other options at centre-back including the versatility offered by Lucas Neill and the former Hammer of the Year Danny Gabbidon who is working his way back to fitness.
Crucially, the club has two of the most promising young centre-backs in the country coming through the Academy ranks in James Tomkins and Jordan Spence, who are both regulars at Under-19 level for England. Then there is Icelandic U21 talent Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson waiting in the wings after he arrived in the summer.
Curbishley said: "I wish Anton well in the future. There has been a lot of speculation over the transfer but the bottom line is that we have a lot of defenders at the club and the circumstances around the deal mean it was the right decision. As I have said previously, I am confident we have a strong enough squad and this will especially encourage James Tomkins to show me what he is capable of doing.
"I am also looking to bring in one or two players to go with Jan Lastuvka and Valon Behrami who we have signed this summer. We also made sure we secured the likes of George McCartney and Dean Ashton long term and any suggestion that we want to sell Craig Bellamy is nonsense. He is back in full training and he and one or two others should be in contention soon."
West Ham United CEO Scott Duxbury said: "I would like to wish Anton all the best in the future and thank him for his loyal service. We know that our fans have a particular affinity with players that have come through the academy system but we think this should help us to promote even more young talent through the ranks. This deal was also the right one for the club, given we could not agree a new contract and that there were just two years left to run on the existing one."