Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt has handed in a transfer request as he endeavours to find regular first-team football.

The decision to leave Old Trafford was confirmed by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

“Nicky Butt has asked to leave,’ Ferguson told The Sun. ‘It is a very sad situation.

“With Phil Neville, and the emergence of Darren Fletcher and Kleberson, it has made it difficult to get in the team so he has asked to leave.”

“Nicky has given Manchester United great service but he wants to play first-team football.”

Among those known to be interestedin the 28-year-old England international are Tottenham and Middlesbrough.

Boro boss Steve McClaren familiar with Butt from his spell as assistant to Ferguson, is a huge fan of Butt.

“He would be the perfect player for us,” McClaren admitted before Christmas.

“If there was any possibility of getting him I would be first on the phone.”

Butt was a graduate of the famous United youth team of 1992, alongside Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and David Beckham.

However, following an operation onhis ankle in the summer, he has struggled to earn a starting place at United and has seen his defensive midfield place taken by Philip Neville.