Wednesday, April 24News That Matters

Ferdinand names the 12 players he considers world-class amid Bukayo Saka debate

Rio Ferdinand has listed 12 players whom he deems as world-class, following his assertion that Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka has yet to ascend to that caliber.

The renowned Manchester United figure incurred the ire of Arsenal supporters by suggesting that Saka still needs to demonstrate his prowess at the highest echelons of the Champions League to truly attain world-class status.

Determining what constitutes world-class is subjective, but upon reflection, Ferdinand identifies a dozen players who merit inclusion at the pinnacle of the sport.

During his appearance on TNT Sport, he singled out a quintet from Manchester City: Ederson, Kyle Walker, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, and Erling Haaland, along with a trio from Liverpool: Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, and Mohamed Salah, as the cream of the crop from the Premier League.

Ferdinand also acknowledged Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, Vinicius Jr, and Jude Bellingham, although he later tempered his assessment of the young English midfielder.

‘They’ve actually got that list a little bit wrong because Bellingham was on the list a little below that on his own,’ said Ferdinand of the Real Madrid star.

‘He’s edging into there but the thing that means he’s not on that list for now is time. He will be there. He’s in world class form, he just needs that time.’

The 45-year-old elaborated that Saka finds himself in a comparable position to Bellingham, edging towards world-class status but not quite reaching it yet.

‘That’s why I say Saka has got that world’class potential but he just hasn’t been exposed to the knockout stages of the Champions League or the longevity,’ he continued.

‘The other players on that list, they’ve played in the top prestigious games and they’ve produced in those moments, or they’ve done ridiculous things over a long period of time.’

Ferdinand originally gave his opinion on Saka this month and he has been forced to justify it since.

‘Not yet,’ Ferdinand said on Vibe with Five on Saka’s world-class credentials. ‘Listen. I think Saka’s been unreal.

‘I actually think he needs a bit of a rest, so many games for a young kid. But I think, it’s almost like what is world-class? He hasn’t done it in the Champions League, has he? I’m talking in the nitty-gritty stages.

‘Saka’s top, don’t get me wrong. He’s not world-class yet.’

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