England fly-half George Ford to leave Leicester for Sale

George Ford has steered Leicester to the top of the Premiership table this season Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

England fly-half George Ford will leave Leicester at the end of the season to join Sale, the Premiership club have confirmed.

Ford, who has won 77 England caps, has signed a three-year contract with Sale after declining to extend his stay at Welford Road.

The 28-year-old has made 113 appearances for Leicester across two spells for the club since making his debut at the age of 16 in 2009.

"It has been the most difficult decision of my career," Ford said. "I am proud and grateful to represent this great club at Leicester and I will give my all for the rest of my time at Tigers."

Ford was left out of England head coach Eddie Jones' squad for the Autumn Nations Series but has since guided Leicester to the top of the Premiership table, with eight wins from eight so far this campaign.

Ford is also the top points-scorer in the Premiership with 107 so far this season.

Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson described the signing of Ford as "massive" for the club.

"George Ford is world class -- one of the very best fly-halves in the game over the past five years," he said. "This season he's probably playing the best rugby of his career so we're getting him at the right time.

"I met him twice and we had the chance to show him around the ground and the fact that he's taken this decision, in the form that he's in, with Leicester doing so well, tells me that he believes in the ambition of this club, and in the culture that we're building.

"He's a northerner and his heart is very much in this area. He's been away for some years now but he's coming back to his spiritual home. His family is hugely important to him and I know that his life outside rugby has played a part in this move.

"The exciting thing for me is that he's 28 years old, and he's coming here in the form of his life. We aspire to be a major force in the Premiership and in Europe too and we've got one of the world's best flay-halves in his pomp."