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Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale
"Rio fits into our strategy."
 real 14k

BBC Sport
looks at the Rio transfer
 real 56k

Saturday, 25 November, 2000, 20:00 GMT
Rio seals record deal
Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand: will sign for Leeds on Sunday
This time it appears final - Rio Ferdinand will be unveiled as the world's most expensive defender before Leeds' meeting with Arsenal at Elland Road on Sunday.

Ferdinand has passed a medical and will put the finishing touches to the British record 18m deal before being presented to the fans at Elland Road.

Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale confirmed: "Rio has undergone an extensive medical examination and as a result we look forward to signing him tomorrow."

The 22-year-old central defender will put pen to paper on a five-and-a-half-year contract worth 30,000 a week.

Ferdinand flew into Yorkshire on Saturday morning on a private jet with his Israeli agent Pinhas Zahavi and his parents who have been instrumental in the player's switch from West Ham.

Whisked away

The England international did not even have to make his way through arrivals as he was greeted by Ridsdale at the airport's apron with an awaiting limousine.

Ferdinand was then whisked away to the Yorkshire Clinic at Bingley for the medical.

David O'Leary
Big spender: David O'Leary

He had earlier called in players' union chief Gordon Taylor to help resolve a dispute with the Hammers over a severance payment.

West Ham are believed to have offered their former star 200,000 but he is thought to be seeking 2m.

Ferdinand is also believed to have been given a 10% signing-on fee amounting to 1.8m.

The fee represents a world best for a defender, shattering the 13m paid by Roma for Argentinian Walter Samuel, and a British record which eclipses the 15m splashed out on Alan Shearer and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

The signing means manager David O'Leary has now spent 64.3m in his two years in charge and there could be more players on the way.

West Ham manager Harry Redknapp revealed that talks between Ridsdale and Ferdinand on Thursday had led to the Leeds chief telling his new signing the club "are looking to bring another couple of players in."

Rio has undergone an extensive medical examination and as a result we look forward to signing him tomorrow.
  Peter Ridsdale

O'Leary is understood to be chasing a right winger and a striker to complete his squad which, when fully fit, should prove to be a major force at home and in Europe.

Ridsdale quashed speculation linking Leeds with a move for Inter Milan's out-of-favour Republic of Ireland international striker Robbie Keane and Sunderland's Kevin Phillips.

O'Leary, though, still has the option of buying one of Brann Bergen forwards Azar Karadas or Thorstein Helstad, both of whom recently spent a few days' trial at the club.

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25 Nov 00 |  Football
Robson breathes a sigh of relief
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