Rio Ferdinand claims he “came close” to linking up with Lionel Messi and co. at Barcelona but decided to stay at Manchester United.
The former England international produced a brilliant performance in the 2008 Champions League semi-final at the Camp Nou as Man Utd beat Barcelona to qualify for the final.
And Ferdinand has revealed that Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard approached him in the tunnel after the match to let him know he wanted to sign him.
“Barcelona had touched base. I’d spoken to Rijkaard not about going there but he kind of made his feelings known. 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.”
Man Utd won the Champions League that year before Barcelona went on to win it in 2009 and 2011 under Pep Guardiola – but Ferdinand insists he has no regrets over staying at Old Trafford for another five years.
Ferdinand added: “There was calls for me to go to various clubs. 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. 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 were you are at 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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