Man Utd legend Ferdinand reveals the Arsenal star Rice has been ‘waxing lyrical and raving about’

Joe Williams
Rio Ferdinand on Arsenal defender Gabriel
Rio Ferdinand has been impressed by Gabriel Magalhaes' development this season.

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has revealed that Declan Rice has been “waxing lyrical” about Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes.

The Gunners have been in great form since the turn of the year with Mikel Arteta’s side winning eight and drawing one of their nine Premier League matches this year.

Rio Ferdinand: Gabriel ‘seems to have learned, he’s matured’

In that time Arsenal have scored 33 goals to put them in a good position to challenge for the Premier League title with their draw at rivals Man City on Sunday seeing them slip two points behind leaders Liverpool.

Their defensive record has been brilliant too with only four goals conceded in their last nine league matches and Ferdinand has claimed that Rice – who has been one of the signings of the season – has hailed Gabriel’s contributions in a chat with the Man Utd legend.

“When I saw Declan the other day and spoke to him he was waxing lyrical and raving about Gabriel,” Ferdinand told his Vibe with Five YouTube channel.

I criticised him last season and I stand by that and rightly so. But he seems to have learned, he’s matured. He’s one of the most aggressive, but also controlled now and composed centre halves in the league.

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“His partnership with [William] Saliba… if he was fit the back end of last season they might have won the league. His importance and stature within the team now is alongside Gabriel.”

And Ferdinand thinks Arsenal now have the best centre-back pairing in the Premier League and likened it to his legendary partnership with Nemanja Vidic at Man Utd.

Rio Ferdinand: When they walk out on the pitch these two are hand in hand

Ferdinand added: “I don’t think you can look at one without the other. I think they’re the best partnership. Van Dijk and Konate are close but these two work together better.

“When we interviewed Nemanja Vidic, he said something really important that when you build a foundation for a great team you need a partnership at centre-half who play consistently together.

“When it’s all said and done I don’t think Nemanja Vidic is Nemanja Vidic without Rio and I’d say the same.

“I wouldn’t be held in the class I’m in without Nemanja Vidic by my side. That’s where I think these two are going towards.

“When they walk out on the pitch these two are hand in hand, side by side, shoulder to shoulder. There’s no A side in that they’re both A side and they roll. I love it and I respect it.”

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