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Leeds interest in latest Rio twist

Filed: Sunday, 6th August 2000
By: Matthew O'Greel

The long drawn out saga over the possible departure of Rio Ferdinand took another dramatic twist when Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale confirmed he had made a fresh bid to take the Hammers libero to Elland Road within the last 48 hours.

Ridsdale confirmed he had contacted the Hammers when he said: "I have spoken to West Ham and expressed our interest in Rio Ferdinand, and said that we would wish to buy him if he became available."

The Hammers have stressed all summer that Ferdinand is not for sale, despite continuous rumours to the contrary.

Privately Hammers chairman Terry Brown is furious over the way Leeds have conducted themselves during the whole affair, and is adamant that he will never sell Ferdinand to the Yorkshire club as a result - despite rumours suggesting that the player himself is secretly keen on the move.

The likelihood is that West Ham are willing to listen to an offer from abroard, with Barcelona still the main candidates to make a firm bid. Their coach Llorenc Serra Ferrer, a known admirer of the England defender said earlier: "I believe Rio Ferdinand will become the greatest libero in European football. There is no question in my mind - we must have this young man. He is the final piece in my Barca plans."

The latest rumour to emerge suggests that Barca are willing to offer 14m plus Dutch international defender Winston Bogarde - who is keen on a move to the Premiership - as bait to lure Ferdinand across the channel.

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