Leeds defender Rio Ferdinand has revealed that the prospect of playing Champions League football on a regular basis is the main reason he wants to leave Ellland Road.
“I just feel I need Champions League football to help my career,” he told The Sun newspaper.
“I played in it once with Leeds and it was brilliant and I feel I need more of it now to make me a better player.
“A footballer has a short career and you have to make the most of your opportunities.”
Ferdinand submitted a transfer request earlier this week, which was rejected by the Elland Road board although the club have subsequently made it clear that they would countenance selling the player if they received an offer in the region of £30million.
Manchester United made a tentative enquiry about the player several weeks ago and are understood to have made an offer of £20million for Ferdinand – an offer dismissed as ‘derisory’ by Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale.
However, with Leedseager to reduce their debtsand with Ferdinand expressing his desire to leave, it seems likely that they will eventually capitulate to the player’s wishes.
“I have told Mr Ridsdale why I feel I have to leave and I think he understands,” added Ferdinand.
“He told me if an acceptable offer came in for me, he would consider it.
“There is no animosity on either side. The meeting with the chairman was perfectly amicable. He made his points, I made mine.
“The chance to get back in the Champions League is too good to miss. It is a natural progression in a footballer’s career to want to play at the top in Europe.”
“I really hope if I do leave, it’s on the best terms possible,’ added Ferdinand, aware that his sale to Leeds’ arch-rivals would anger many supporters. ‘I appreciate what the club has done for me and the fans have been first class.
“I’ve thought long and hard about them every day since I made this decision because I owe them a lot. It was not an easy decision to make.
“It is not like I have done it without thinking but this is what I believe will benefit me as a player.
“I can appreciate why the Leeds fans want me to stay. I just hope deep down they understand my reasons for putting myself on the list.”