Rio Ferdinand discusses benefit of joining Leeds United ahead of Manchester United

Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand says joining Leeds United before Manchester United allowed him to develop with less pressure.

Rio Ferdinand has called on John Stones to join Manchester United from Everton, but says on a personal note his experience playing for Leeds beforehand was of real benefit.

The former England centre-back signed for the Red Devils in 2003, having left West Ham for Leeds in 2000.

Speaking to The Guardian, Ferdinand says John Stones has a big decision to make whether he can cope with the pressure joining Manchester United will bring.

He said when he joined Leeds the expectations were different to when he made the transfer to Old Trafford, but feels Stones can make an immediate step up whereas he was not ready to.

Ferdinand said: "I first went from West Ham to Leeds, not West Ham to Manchester United – to huge expectations of winning the league.

"Leeds were happy to develop and get in the Champions League and, wherever they got in that, it was a great bonus. So the pressure was different."

Discussing England under-21 international Stones, Ferdinand added: "Huge price tag, he is not going to be able to go in under the radar and bed in.

“He’s got to ask himself: ‘Am I ready for that? Can I deal with that?’ Those are the questions he has got to ask. I don’t know him personally. Looking at him as a footballer, technically he plays with a certain amount of maturity; I think he would be ready to go and do that."

Ferdinand's switch from West Ham to Leeds at the time could perhaps be likened to a Southampton player moving to Liverpool in the present day.

The Hammers had finished just one place behind Leeds in 1998/99, but Ferdinand felt the Whites were more ambitious and better established to make progress.

He helped them go on to reach the Champions League semi-finals, but fell short of a Premier League title challenge, a trophy he later won after making his controversial switch to Old Trafford.

Ferdinand too had a tough decision to make in leaving boyhood club West Ham, but while John Stones has got his big break in the Premier League with Everton, it was with Barnsley where he began his career, moving in 2013.

It may be that for Stones, Everton are his Leeds, even though they have not managed to crack the top four like the Yorkshire side did.

The decision to take his time clearly benefited Ferdinand, who may have found a move to Manchester United too soon for him in 2000. As he rightly points out, John Stones will have to work out what is best for him, and whether to stick at Everton and show a loyalty he never afforded Leeds, being ruthlessly ambitious instead.

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