ANTON FERDINAND completed a £3million move to big-spending Queens Park Rangers after a breathless dash to complete the deal.
The defender’s three-year stay at Sunderland came to an end last night, as the Black Cats cashed in on a player in the final 12 months of his contract.
Ferdinand was one of Sunderland’s most consistent performers over the opening four games of the campaign, instantly forming an impressive central defensive partnership with Wes Brown.
But Sunderland couldn’t turn down QPR’s £3m offer, with boss Steve Bruce unlikely to offer Ferdinand a new deal and conscious there had been many false dawns in the ex-West Ham man’s time on Wearside.
Ferdinand was one of Sunderland’s top earners and the freed-up wages, together with the fee, allowed the Black Cats to push through a season-long loan for Nicklas Bendtner before the 11pm transfer deadline.
But it was a frantic finish to Ferdinand’s exit despite the 26-year-old spending the day in West London.
The move hung in the balance when QPR turned their attention to Tottenham’s ex-Newcastle United defender Sebastien Bassong.
But when the Bassong deal fell through, following Spurs’ failure to land Bolton’s Gary Cahill, the Ferdinand transfer was resurrected.
Ferdinand was forced to dash through heavy London traffic before arriving at Loftus Road just 10 minutes before the transfer window closed.
“The club’s moving forward and things seem to be buzzing around here at the moment,” said Ferdinand, who has penned a three-year deal with the Premier League new boys.
“I came down to London yesterday and spoke to the gaffer and was impressed with his thoughts on where the club is going to go.
“I’ve heard good things about the manager and after speaking with him, it’s clear that he wants the best for me and he wants me to do well.
“As soon as I came out of the meeting with him, I knew that QPR was the club for me.”
QPR boss Neil Warnock added: “Anton’s a player that I have always admired.
“He’s got so much to offer. When you look at centre-halves in this country, you won’t see much better than Anton on a good day.
“He’s still got a lot to prove and hopefully he’s at the right team to do that with.”
Ferdinand made 95 appearances for Sunderland after former manager Roy Keane splashed out £8m to land the defender from West Ham in the summer of 2008.
The concern for Sunderland after Ferdinand’s departure is the condition of his fellow centre-halves Michael Turner and Titus Bramble.
The pair have not featured for the Black Cats this season as they gingerly make their way back from long-term knee injuries.
John O’Shea, deployed at right-back in last weekend’s trip to Swansea, is equally comfortable at centre-half, but Bruce would prefer the former Manchester United man at full-back.
The Sunderland boss needs Turner and Bramble to shake off the rust, with 18-year-old Louis Laing the only other central defender at Bruce’s disposal.
There is no way back for out-of-favour defenders Nyron Nosworthy and Matt Kilgallon, with the duo now likely to leave on emergency loans when the Football League loan window opens next Tuesday.
Neither of the duo came close to moving yesterday, with Ferdinand the only player to depart the Stadium of Light.
But there was talk of record signing Asamoah Gyan submitting a transfer request - rumours which were quickly scotched by a club insider.
Turkish outfit Galatasary made a failed bid for Gyan on Tuesday, while there was also interest from Marseilles and Besiktas, although nothing concrete emerged on deadline day.