Wayne Rooney claims Man United defender Chris Smalling is one of the “top three centre-halves in the world”.
The misfiring striker – who has been roundly criticised for his own performances – has also paid tribute to the “incredible” Anthony Martial.
Martial and Smalling both impressed again in Sunday’s goalless Manchester derby to continue their superb form this season.
Teenager Martial has scored five goals in 10 games after joining United on deadline day in a £36million move from Monaco.
The Frenchman has been shunted to the left wing to accommodate Rooney in the centre-forward position, but the England skipper’s poor form has led to many to call on Louis van Gaal to drop his captain in favour of the new signing.
Despite the battle for the No.9 role, Rooney has praised Martial for the way he has settled into life at Old Trafford.
“I think he has been incredible, how he has come over to Manchester and started the way he has,” Rooney told United Review.
“Let’s not forget he is still a very young lad as well. To come over with his young family and start the way he has, he deserves a lot of credit.
“You can see what a good player he is and he’ll be an important player for us from now until the end of the season. He is probably the quickest player in our team, if not the quickest in the league.”
Smalling has also been in sublime form this season and remains the only United player to have played every minute in the Premier League so far this campaign.
“He has been incredible,” Rooney said. “He is in the top three centre-halves in the world – I think he is that good!
“He is a great player and he is developing to become more of a leader of the back four. It is great to see for both United and England, and hopefully that can continue for him and he can help us to be successful.”