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Ex-Man Utd defender Rio Ferdinand explains decision to snub Barcelona transfer


Rio Ferdinand has revealed he once turned down a move to join Lionel Messi and co at Barcelona during his time with Man Utd.

The former England defender enjoyed a stellar career at the elite level of the game, including a trophy-laden 12-year spell at Old Trafford.

It was with United that Ferdinand earned his sole Champions League winners medal, captaining the Red Devils to victory in the showpiece final against Chelsea in 2008.

United had beaten Barcelona in the last four on their way to the final in Russia, and Ferdinand could have been lining up on the opposite side the following season had Barca boss Frank Rijkaard got his way.

“It came close, there were discussions with my agent,” Ferdinand told BT Sport. “Barcelona had touched base. I’d spoken to Rijkaard not about going there but he kind of made his feelings known.

Rio Ferdinand revealed he turned down Barcelona during his career
Rio Ferdinand revealed he turned down Barcelona during his career

“It was after the game in Barcelona we drew 0-0 in the tunnel after the game when I spoke to Rijkaard.

“I always said I wanted to play abroad but the only thing that would stop me was if I was winning and successful on home shores. I was lucky I found a great club at Manchester United it would’ve been almost impossible for me to leave.”

Ferdinand reached the final twice more with United, only to be beaten by Barcelona on both occasions.

Ferdinand (top) helped United beat Barcelona in the 2008 semi-finals
Ferdinand (top) helped United beat Barcelona in the 2008 semi-finals

But he doesn’t regret staying with United, whom he won three more league titles with before leaving in 2013.

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“There was calls for me to go to various clubs,” Ferdinand added. “When that was on the table those clubs were in transition and it didn’t make sense to go somewhere it might take two or three years to win things.

“There is an etiquette but you get the gist of what someone is saying. I think Frank was a very respectful gentleman.

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“But at the end of the day you know where you’re at after a conversation and then your agent starts to confirm through other channels you understand where you are at that point.

“But we beat them and went on to become European Champions so why would I leave them to go to another team?

“At that point Xavi, Iniesta, Messi was just 20, they were just starting to come through. They weren’t the players they were three or four years later. It was a very different landscape at that time but what a club.’





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