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Ferdinand: I came close to leaving Man Utd for Barcelona

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The Red Devils legend was nearly tempted to the Camp Nou but decided to remain at the Theatre of Dreams

Manchester United icon Rio Ferdinand has revealed he “came close” to securing a move to Barcelona while at the peak of his powers at Old Trafford.

The star central defender was a rock in the Red Devils defence during a trophy-laden 12-year career in Manchester – lifting the Premier League on six occasions and clinching a Champions League title.

But Ferdinand’s stint at the Theatre of Dreams was nearly cut short when Barcelona and Frank Rijkaard came calling during the club’s European triumph in 2008.

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When asked about his links to Barcelona on BT Sport, Ferdinand said: “It came close. There were discussions with my agent, Barca had touched base. I’d spoken to Riijkard, not about going there but he made his feelings known. 

“It was actually after the game in Barcelona where we drew 0-0, in the tunnel after the game I spoke to him. 

“The problem with me going abroad, I always said I definitely wanted to go abroad and play, but the only thing that would ever have stopped me was if I was successful on home shores and I was lucky and fortunate to find a great club in Manchester United where it was going to be almost impossible for me to leave. 

“We beat them and went on to become European champions, so why would I leave the European champions to go to another team in transition.

“At that point Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, they weren’t the players they were three or four years later so it was a very different landscape at that time in Barcelona.”

Barcelona dismissed Rijkaard prior to the 2008-09 season, appointing Pep Guardiola – who guided the Catalans to a 2-0 Champions League final victory over Man Utd in his first season at the club.

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The Red Devils were also defeated by Guardiola’s Barca 3-1 in the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley.

Ferdinand made 455 appearances for Man Utd, scoring eight goals before departing for a final season at Queens Park Rangers in 2014-15.

In a recent Q&A on Instagram, Ferdinand insisted the Red Devils need to sign star England duo Harry Kane and Jadon Sancho to get back amongst the best teams in Europe.

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