West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has admitted that he would jump at the chance to sign Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand this summer.

Ferdinand is in the final 12 months of his contract at Old Trafford and he would be available on a free transfer should he decide that he wants to leave Manchester United.

Rio Ferdinand
Ferdinand's contract with United runs out this summer [Reuters]

The England defender turns 34 next month and is unlikely to be appeared more than a one year extension by Sir Alex Ferguson; as is the policy of Manchester United for players over the age of 30.

Ferdinand, who came through the West Ham academy and spent five seasons in the first team, remains one of the finest defenders in the Premier League but has struggled in recent seasons with numerous injuries.

Hammers boss Allardyce admits that he would ideally love to offer Ferdinand the chance to return to the club in the summer, however, he is fully aware of how difficult the task will be.

"I think it's highly unlikely that we would consider Rio Ferdinand at the moment," Allardyce told the Daily Mirror.

"But if it's at the end of the season and he hasn't got a new contract and he is going to leave Manchester United then we would be interested if we can sustain our Premier League status. It depends entirely on Rio.

"The chairman likes to think big and it's nice to have a chairman who thinks big.

"Everything has to be in place. If Rio wants to come back, the financial package and so on and so forth and whether they want to release him or not.

"If he wants to live back in London eventually, which is were he comes from, which is what quite a few players like to do before the end of their careers then that might be an advantage for us."

West Ham have managed to attract big names to the club having previously brought Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to Upton Park, while Andy Carroll was convinced to join from Liverpool on a season-long loan.

Allardyce will hope that the lure of regular first team football would be enough to convince him to return to West Ham should Ferdinand decide to leave United.