‘Scares defenders to death’ – Ferdinand puts England duo in same tier as ‘brilliant’ Vinicius Jr

Jason Soutar
Rio Ferdinand speaks about Tottenham

Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand believes Vinicius Jr, Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford are all in the tier below Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe.

Ferdinand was speaking on BT Sport before Real Madrid’s Champions League clash against Liverpool on Wednesday.

Vinicius scored the only goal of the game when the two sides met in last season’s final of the competition.

The Brazilian has been absolutely superb for Los Blancos over the last few years and is widely regarded as one of the best players in world football.

However, he is not quite in the same tier as Manchester City’s striker Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe, according to former England defender Ferdinand.

In what is incredibly high praise for Arsenal winger Saka and Manchester United forward Rashford, Ferdinand has put the England pair in the same category as Vinicius.

“He’s [Vinicius] on that next rung [below Mbappe and Haaland], isn’t he?” Ferdinand said.

“I think you’ve got him, Rashford I think talking about it, Saka’s coming up on the rails.

“But this kid, the difference between him and the ones I’ve just mentioned is that he’s done it on this level – Champions League in knockout football and won the Champions League, and been a big part of why they’ve won.

“A big part of today’s football is pace – pace kills.

“It scares defenders to death and he’s not only got the pace, he’s got the ability to execute at the top end of the pitch. Brilliant footballer.”

Rashford was nowhere near being in this conversation this time last year but has been one of the best players in Europe this season.

After scoring five goals in 32 matches across all competitions last term, the 25-year-old has found the back of the next an extraordinary 25 times in 42 games in 2022-23.

United manager Erik ten Hag is certainly getting the best out of Rashford, who is out of contract in 15 months.

Saka, meanwhile, has gone from strength to strength under Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.

Valued at €100million (£87.72m) by Transfermarkt, Saka is one assist shy of recording double-figure goals and assists in the Premier League this campaign.

Also out of contract in 2024, the Gunners are very eager to extend the 21-year-old’s deal but are reportedly confident they will be able to do so.

Saka has been one of Arsenal’s best players in 22-23 as Arteta’s side mount an incredible push for the Premier League title.

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