Rio Ferdinand names best defender in the Premier League

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes Lisandro Martinez is in a league of his own.

The Argentina international, who won the World Cup at the end of 2022, has been a key player for Manchester United since joining the club from Ajax in the summer.

Martinez didn’t put a foot wrong in the 2-2 draw against Leeds on Wednesday night and his performances this season put him right up there with the best defenders in the world.

Ferdinand told his FIVE podcast that Martinez is the best defender in the Premier League due to his virtues such as aggression, dominance and communication.

“On form right now, I don’t think there’s really much argument coming from anywhere else,” Ferdinand said.

“I think he’s dominant, he’s aggressive, he’s a leader, he communicates well, he shows character, he’s there in big moments.”

The retired footballer went on to admit that he was one of the pundits who questioned Martinez’s physicality – like Jamie Carragher, who has since gone back on his word – following his summer switch. Standing at 5ft 7in, it’s no secret that the Argentine is one of the best centre-backs in the air that the Premier League has to offer – almost defeating science!

Ferdinand added: “But I was one of the ones questioning, ‘Is he physically gonna be able to compete here if teams isolate him?

“And that’s where Erik ten Hag has been confident in tactically being able to keep teams away from being able to dominate enough possession to isolate someone like Martinez.

“And, up till now, he hasn’t been exposed in that sense. On a regular basis, week after week, we are not sitting there going, ‘That’s a recurring problem, there.’ It continues to happen, someone’s pulling out on him and jumping over him or bullying him physically.

“We haven’t seen that, that hasn’t become the narrative, and you have to say well done to him but also well done to the recruitment up to now.”

Virgil van Dijk no longer the best

Speaking at back in February 2020, as per The Mirror, Ferdinand named Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk as the best defender in the Premier League. Jurgen Klopp’s side were flying at the time, but the 31-year-old has struggled to find form this season.

“I think he (Van Dijk) is undoubtedly the best defender in the world, the best centre-back in the world now.”

Funny how quickly things change, eh?

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