Rio Ferdinand has no regrets after rejecting Barcelona in 2008: 'It was a very different landscape'

Former Manchester United defender reveals he was close to a move to Camp Nou

FILE PHOTO: Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o (L) challenges Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand for the ball during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, April 23, 2008.     REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo
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Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand has revealed he turned down the chance to join Barcelona in 2008.

At the time, Ferdinand was at the peak of his powers for a dominant United side which that season had won the Premier League and Champions League.

En route to their European Cup triumph, United eliminated Barcelona in the semi-finals in what proved to be Frank Rijkard's final season in charge before Pep Guardiola took over and turned a fine Barca side into an all-conquering one.

It was the Dutch manager who was determined to sign Ferdinand before he was sacked, so if the former West Ham and Leeds centre-back had moved to Camp Nou, he would have been an early arrival of the Guardiola era that delivered nine major trophies in four years.

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

"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."

While a move to Guardiola's Barcelona would have seen Ferdinand become part of one of the most successful clubs of recent years, he insists he has no regrets, particularly as Barca were still a team in transition.

"There was calls for me to go to various clubs," Ferdinand said. "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.

"We beat them and went on to become European Champions so why would I leave to go to another team?

"At that point Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta, [Lionel] 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.”