Alex Ferguson has warned Argentina defender Gabriel Heinze that he risks jeopardising his career at Old Trafford, if he represents his country at next month’s Athens Olympics.

Heinze has been called up to the Argentina Under-23 squad for Athens as an over-age player following his £6.9m move from Paris St Germain.

United are already resigned to losing Cristiano Ronaldo for the first month of the English season after Portugal named the winger in their Olympic squad.

But Ferguson warned Heinze: “This situation could deny Gabriel Heinze a career at Manchester United.

“The left-back position was his. But at the start of the season I am going to have to have someone else in there if he is at the Olympics.

“He could find it difficult to get into the team. In fact, he may never play a game for Manchester United.

“He has an opportunity to start a career here but that has been taken from him.

“It is a different situation to Ronaldo. We saw what he could do last season. He has started his career here. Gabriel has not.”