Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has revealed that he “came close” to securing a move to Barcelona in 2008.
The centre-back joined United in 2002 and developed into one of the best defenders in the world, winning six Premier League titles.
However, his stint at Old Trafford was nearly cut short when Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard approached him after a Champions League semi-final stalemate at the Nou Camp.
“It came close,” Ferdinand told BT Sport. “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 shore.
“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.”
Ferdinand eventually rejected a move to Spain and spent another six years at Old Trafford before joining QPR in 2014.
Barcelona signed fellow United centre-back Gerard Pique instead, and he has won eight La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues at the Nou Camp.