Ligue 1 - Malbranque denies cancer rumours
Reports emerging from France over the weekend, and repeated in a number of British publications, claimed that the 31-year-old, who joined French outfit St Etienne this summer, decided to quit football as his young son was suffering from cancer.
But in a statement released to Press Association Sport by solicitors working on the instruction of Malbranque's agent, Sebastien Boisseau, it is made clear that the Frenchman does not have a son and that no member of his immediate family is in ill health.
"Steed has read with concern the recent stories currently circulating about him and his family," read the statement which as issued by London-based solicitors Thomas Cooper.
"He would like to reassure all of his friends in England and throughout world football that these stories are wholly without foundation.
"Steed does not have a son and his immediate family are all in good health. Steed does not know the origin of these stories but would like to stress that they are without merit.
"He trusts that they will now cease immediately."
Ferdinand subsequently Tweeted: "If the Malbranque story is untrue then whoever started the rumour needs to sort themselves right out you scumbag."
Saint Etienne also confirmed that it had severed ties with Malbranque, who played only once for them.
A club statement said: "The decision (to quit) was his alone and ASSE fully respects his wishes. The management of AS Saint Etienne wishes Steed all the best in his life and future."
Malbranque's switch to St Etienne last month ended a 10-year stay in English football, during which time he made a total of 336 Premier League appearances.
After impressing at Lyon following his debut for the club in 1998, Malbranque secured a move to Fulham in 2001 and went on to make over 200 appearances for the west London club.
Malbranque transferred to Tottenham in the summer of 2006, going on to make over 60 appearances, before joining Sunderland in 2008.