Rio Ferdinand has hit out at Manchester United for letting England international Declan Rice join Premier League rivals Arsenal.
The Gunners spent a club-record fee of around £105m to sign Rice from West Ham United during the summer transfer window.
This was a major coup as the centre-midfielder has also been heavily linked with Chelsea and Manchester City. Before his move to Arsenal, a potential switch to Man Utd was consistently being touted.
Arsenal were questioned by some for spending such a huge fee on Rice but he has been sensational for the Premier League leaders at the start of this season.
Rice scored vital goals in games against Man Utd and Chelsea before he netted a last-gasp winner in Arsenal’s 4-3 victory at Luton Town on Tuesday night.
Ferdinand is frustrated that Man Utd did not sign Rice as “only Jude Bellingham comes near to him”.
“Declan Rice, I said it before Man Utd he was the player I would’ve 100% gone and got,” Ferdinand said via his Vibe With Five podcast.
“You could argue there’s midfielders with more ability than him but I would argue that it’s only Jude Bellingham that comes near him in terms of being able to get into a dressing room and trying to get control of that dressing room and get the respect of that dressing room on day two, three, four, straight away.
“Not only with performances and standards and helping with the culture and the environment but the attitude and the likeability factor, the respect factor that he would get straight away.”
He added: “That’s why I thought he more than anybody it was important that Man United should’ve gone and got and they allowed Arsenal to go and get him.”
After his late goal against Luton Town, Rice claimed Arsenal “never stopped believing” that a winner would come.
“I think last year they were eight points clear and obviously lost the title,” Rice said.
“This year there definitely seems to be a different feel around the place in terms of being stern, being steady, being composed in big moments.
“Luton Town caused us a massive threat and it looked like we were going to drop points. But this season, it’s that never-say-die attitude that we’ve got that we keep pushing, keep fighting to the end and I think that’s our fifth goal in added time.
“I think we should start scoring some a bit earlier! But to score in added time, it shows what we are made of and we will never stop believing.”