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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 16:43 GMT
Leeds ready for place among elite
Peter Ridsdale
Ridsdale (r) and O'Leary (l) view Ferdinand as key buy
Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale believes the 18m deal for Rio Ferdinand proves his club are ready to join the super-powers of European football.

Ridsdale hopes the signing will go through on Thursday after talks with the 22-year-old player and his agent.

West Ham and Leeds have already agreed an 18m fee for Ferdinand, which would be a British record and a world record for a defender.

Ferdinand is being offered a five-year 22,000 a week contract at Elland Road.

Ridsdale said the signing explodes the myth that Leeds do not have the resources to compete with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool.

"Agreeing a fee which is not only a British record but also a world record for a defender, demonstrates unequivocally our determination to become a leading force in both the Premiership and in Europe.

Work to do

"Often in the past we have been criticised for not backing the desires of managers with money. No longer can that accusation be levelled."

But Ridsdale admitted that the deal is still some way from being secured.

"He is a London boy who has lived with his parents for a long time and been with the same club since he was 12-years-old. There is still some work to do before he becomes a Leeds player."

Ferdinand's Israeli agent Pinhas Zahavi is due to fly in to Leeds on Thursday to try and conclude negotiations about the transfer.

Leeds' assistant boss Eddie Gray said he was excited at the prospect of working with Ferdinand.

"The boy is a top-class player - there is no doubt he has tremendous ability.

"It is a lot of money. But all good things start at the back and we have got one or two defenders at the club who are top class. If we can add to that then all's well and good."

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22 Nov 00 |  Leeds United
Ferdinand's touch of Rio
22 Nov 00 |  Eng Prem
Breaking the bank
22 Nov 00 |  Eng Prem
Hammers accept Ferdinand bid
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