Rio Ferdinand names the world’s best centre-back

Rio Ferdinand has rejected the notion that Manchester United boasts a better defender than Arsenal’s William Saliba.

Saliba has been instrumental in Mikel Arteta’s team competing for the Premier League title over the past two seasons and his reputation has only grown during Euro 2024.

At 23, Saliba was not initially expected to start for Didier Deschamps’ team, but the French coach has chosen him and Dayot Upamecano as his central defensive pairing, with impressive results.

France has allowed just one goal in five matches at the Euros, with this strong defensive performance helping them reach a semi-final against an in-form Spain.

Ferdinand believes that France could potentially win the tournament, similar to England, without hitting their peak form and asserts that Saliba is arguably the best defender in the world right now.

Stephen Howson, Ferdinand’s co-host on Vibe with Five, suggested that Manchester United’s Lisandro Martinez was superior to Saliba, but the former England defender dismissed this claim.

‘France could do exactly what England are doing,’ Ferdinand said. ‘They could stink the place out and still win this thing.

‘Their defence, on paper, is better than ours. Saliba and Upamecano have formed a really good partnership. They’ve been brilliant.

‘I think if you were going to pick the best centre-half in the world right now. You’d go with William Saliba.’

On the suggestion that Martinez is a better defender than Saliba, Ferdinand said: ‘No man, come on. That’s bias, that’s bias.

‘They would be an unreal partnership by the way but he’s not [better than Saliba], he’s not. If you ask any centre forward who’s better, I don’t think many will say Martinez over Saliba.’

On possible rumours that Saliba could leave Arsenal amid reported interest from Real Madrid, Ferdinand added: ‘If he leaves, Arsenal have fumbled the bag.’

Ferdinand also urged Manchester United to beat Real Madrid to a deal for Leny Yoro.

Yoro, 18 has attracted huge interest from the Premier League and La Liga giants after a breakthrough campaign for Lille in which he played 32 league games.

‘I think Real Madrid are going to sign Yoro,’ Ferdinand said. ‘I would love him at United, please come to Man United! This kid, his ceiling is as high as anybody’s right now.’

Saliba will hope to help France reach Sunday’s Euro 2024 final at the expense of Spain when the European giants meet in Munich tomorrow.


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