Ferdinand rejects ‘biased’ claim that Man Utd have a better defender than Saliba at Arsenal

Joe Williams
Man Utd legend Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand during the FA Cup semi-final against Coventry City.

Man Utd legend Rio Ferdinand has dismissed a claim that the Red Devils have a better defender than Arsenal centre-back William Saliba.

The Gunners had the best defence in the Premier League last term as they lost out to Man City in the race for the Premier League title by two points on the final day of the season.

Arsenal only conceded 29 goals in 38 Premier League matches and one of the reasons for that is the formidable partnership Saliba has built with fellow centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes.

He has done the same at international level at Euro 2024 too with the Arsenal defender forming a solid pairing with Dayot Upamecano for France, who have reached the semi-finals of the competition.

France, like England, have failed to light up Euro 2024 but most of their success at the current tournament has been based on solid foundations.

And Ferdinand thinks that Saliba is the best centre-back in the world on current form and that France have a better defence than England.

The former Man Utd centre-back said on his Vibe with FIVE YouTube channel: “France could do exactly what England are doing. They could stink the place out and still win this thing.

“Their defence, on paper, is better than ours. Saliba and Upamecano have formed a really good partnership. They’ve been brilliant.

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“I think if you were going to pick the best centre-half in the world right now. You’d go with William Saliba.”

His fellow presenter Stephen Howson suggested that Man Utd have a centre-back better than Saliba in Lisandro Martinez but Ferdinand rejected his claim as “bias”.

Responding to the claim, Ferdinand added: “No man, come on. That’s bias, that’s bias.

“They would be an unreal partnership by the way but he’s not [better than Saliba], he’s not. If you ask any centre forward who’s better, I don’t think many will say Martinez over Saliba.”

There have been some weak rumours that Real Madrid could look to buy Saliba in the summer. On rumours he could leave Arsenal, Ferdinand continued: “If he leaves, Arsenal have fumbled the bag.”

Emmanuel Petit recently praised Saliba’s form at Euro 2024 after Didier Deschamps took a “big gamble” to play him for France at the tournament in Germany.

Petit said: “No one could have imagined him (Saliba) being a key player at the start of the competition.

“He was so far away from being in the first team a couple of months ago and I remember Didier Deschamps comments about him in the press. He was worried about some aspects of his game and that he should improve. He has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League for the past two seasons, and maybe even the world.

“William Saliba had no partnership with Upamecano before the tournament so it was a big gamble by the manager to play them together but I think they are getting better and better.

“I am not surprised by how Saliba is playing and I think it would now be very difficult for Konate to come back into the first team.”