Rio Ferdinand insists Manchester United must prioritise ‘a defensive partner for Harry Maguire’

Rio Ferdinand insists former club Manchester United ‘must prioritise finding a defensive partner for Harry Maguire’ this summer to compete for the Premier League title… and to rival City’s solid centre back pairing of Ruben Dias and John Stones

Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester United need to find an upgrade at centre back to partner Harry Maguire if they want to start competing for Premier League titles.

United lost out on the league crown to rivals Manchester City with three games to spare on Tuesday night after they were defeated 2-1 by Leicester City at Old Trafford.

Although they were without Maguire, who is set to miss the remainder of the Premier League campaign through a ligament injury, Ferdinand believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are still a defender short if they want to lead a title chase.

Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester United need a defender to partner Harry Maguire (above) 

‘I think Manchester United’s prime position for them to strengthen, to really improve and become a team who can compete, is centre back,’ Ferdinand told BT Sport following United’s loss.

‘To get a partner for Harry Maguire who you go, “actually every week he produces, he’s there.”’

Maguire has formed a competent partnership with Victor Lindelof this term with Eric Bailly as third choice, and they have helped United record the third best defence in the top flight with only City (26) and Chelsea (32) conceding fewer than their 38 goals. 

Ferdinand continued his assessment by comparing United’s back-line with rivals City, claiming that the difference between the teams is opposition forwards having their confidence boosted when taking on United rather than City.

Ferdinand (above) claims United's defence does not put enough fear into opposition forwards

Ferdinand (above) claims United’s defence does not put enough fear into opposition forwards

Maguire will miss the remainder of the season after suffering ligament damage to his left leg

Maguire will miss the remainder of the season after suffering ligament damage to his left leg

The former United defender used City’s title winning centre-backs Ruben Dias and John Stones as examples of the sort of fear United’s defence should be imposing on opposition teams. 

‘At the moment there’s too many players centre-forwards especially who probably are looking when they get in the tunnel and are thinking, ‘I’ve got a chance here. I think I can smell a chance.”, he added.

‘Whereas the teams who do really well, [Ruben] Dias and [John] Stones at the back at the moment in the past four or five months, teams are looking at them and thinking ‘it’s going to be very difficult for me today.’

Ferdinand has called on United to build a defence as fearful as Manchester City's centre-back partnership of Ruben Dias (left) and John Stones

Ferdinand has called on United to build a defence as fearful as Manchester City’s centre-back partnership of Ruben Dias (left) and John Stones

‘I don’t think they get that feeling right now when they play against the centre-backs at Manchester United.’

Although Joleon Lescott agreed with Ferdinand in that United need to strengthen, the former City centre-back believes the Red Devils are still short of providing a threat to Pep Guardiola’s team or Liverpool.

‘Appeasing the fans is one part of the jigsaw. if they want to win the title, they have to strengthen their squad,’ Lescott told BT Sport.

‘They’re not as close as they think even with those players. City and Liverpool have set a new high, a new bar.’ 

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Rio Ferdinand sticks boot into ‘tired and old’ Real Madrid after Champions League defeat to Chelsea

Rio Ferdinand sticks boot into ‘tired and old’ Real Madrid and insists Zinedine Zidane’s men were lucky not to lose by ‘five or six goals’ in lacklustre Stamford Bridge showing as Chelsea book place in Istanbul final

  • Rio Ferdinand criticised Real Madrid’s performance in their defeat to Chelsea
  • The pundit labelled the Spanish side ‘tired and old’ after a lacklustre showing
  • Ferdinand claimed Madrid were lucky not to lose by five or six goals in the end
  • Steve McManaman feels tough times are ahead for club amid financial struggles

Rio Ferdinand laid into the Real Madrid team after they lost 2-0 to Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions League semi final to get knocked out of the competition.

Zinedine Zidane’s side went into the second leg knowing they had to score an away goal if they were to go through, but were second best all night and failed to mount any serious challenge to Chelsea’s backline.

Speaking after the match, Ferdinand believed the visitors were lucky the margin of their defeat wasn’t wider.   

Rio Ferdinand was disappointed by a lethargic performance from Real Madrid against Chelsea

The BT pundit felt the Spanish side were unable to match the energy and hunger of the Blues

‘Yes they’ve (Madrid) got good players, but they looked tired tonight,’ Ferdinand told BT Sport.

‘They looked like an old team tonight and Chelsea looked like a young team who were hungry.

‘They could have won by about five or six goals tonight. We said before about them playing quick and in transition and breaking from midfield. 

‘Kante did that for the first goal, they did in time and time again after that and they got the job done.’

Ferdinand praised N'Golo Kante but questioned the Madrid side after they were well beaten

Ferdinand praised N’Golo Kante but questioned the Madrid side after they were well beaten 

Madrid sit second in La Liga, trailing leaders Atletico Madrid by two points as the season moves to an end.

The club continue to suffer with huge financial problems, and with the collapse of the European Super League proposals a quick solution to that seems unlikely.

Steve McManaman, who played for the Spanish side for four seasons, suggested there are troubles times ahead for his former club.    

‘They got big problems ahead of them,’ McManaman said. ‘They’re fine in La Liga like a lot of the teams in Spain financially. 

‘They have got to change the team around. They couldn’t keep all the players, Gareth Bale had to go, James left and Odegaard when out on loan, Luka Jovic too. 

‘They weakened the squad that way, they need reinforcements.’ 

Steve McManaman feels former side have big problems ahead with key players out on loan

Steve McManaman feels former side have big problems ahead with key players out on loan

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Rio Ferdinand: Sir Alex Ferguson wanted Karim Benzema so bad ‘Lyon officials had to PULL him away’

Sir Alex Ferguson was so desperate to sign Karim Benzema ‘Lyon officials had to PULL him away in the tunnel’, reveals Rio Ferdinand – before French star later snubbed Manchester United for Real Madrid 

  • Karim Benzema has been Real Madrid’s main man for just under 12 seasons 
  • Rio Ferdinand claimed Sir Alex Ferguson pursued the Frenchman back in 2008 
  • Benzema first caught Ferguson’s eye by scoring against Man United that year 
  • Ferguson allegedly had to be pulled away by Lyon officials after the match
  • Benzema joined Real Madrid in 2009 – and United signed Michael Owen instead

Rio Ferdinand claims Sir Alex Ferguson was desperate to sign Karim Benzema for Manchester United before he joined Real Madrid.

The French striker has been a regular option for the LaLiga giants since moving from Lyon in 2009, scoring 227 goals in 12 seasons and guiding Los Blancos to 18 major trophies. 

Benzema first caught Ferguson’s eye when he scored for Lyon in the 2007-08 Champions League last-16 tie against United, with Ferdinand claiming the Scot had to be dragged away from the striker by the French club’s officials. 

Rio Ferdinand claimed Sir Alex Ferguson wanted Karim Benzema before he joined Real Madrid

Benzema first caught the ex-Manchester United boss' eyes by scoring against the club in 2008

Benzema first caught the ex-Manchester United boss’ eyes by scoring against the club in 2008

Speaking about facing Benzema for United back in 2008, Ferdinand told BT Sport: ‘The first time I played against him, Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign him. 

‘He was speaking to him in the tunnel after the game and Lyon officials had to pull him away. His movement that day was brilliant.’

Benzema ended up moving to Madrid over a year later in a £30million move, thereby snubbing a move to Ferguson’s side who had just won the Premier League title and reached the Champions League final. 

Ferdinand claimed Ferguson wanted had to be dragged away from Benzema after the match

Ferdinand claimed Ferguson wanted had to be dragged away from Benzema after the match

Michael Owen, who was United’s only striker signing in the summer of 2009, revealed that Benzema rejecting the Red Devils was the only reason he made the switch to Old Trafford on a free transfer from Newcastle.

The former United striker claimed: ‘I only came to United because he chose Real Madrid instead of United. The first time I got a call from Sir Alex Ferguson, he said “We want to sign Benzema, if we don’t get him… (we’re getting you.)’

The 34-year-old is having another top season at the Spanish giants, with 28 goals in all competitions this season going into Wednesday night’s Champions League semi-final second-leg with Chelsea.  

Ferguson was left disappointed come the summer of 2009 when Benzema moved to Spain

Ferguson was left disappointed come the summer of 2009 when Benzema moved to Spain

United then snapped up Michael Owen on a free transfer that summer after Benzema's snub

United then snapped up Michael Owen on a free transfer that summer after Benzema’s snub

Michael Owen admitted that Benzema is currently benefiting from Cristiano Ronaldo no longer being part of the Real Madrid squad. 

The Portuguese forward joined Juventus in a £100million move in the summer of 2018 and Benzema has 85 goals in 142 matches since then. 

Owen claimed: ‘He’s in great form. Who isn’t going to be in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow when he’s at your club? 

‘He has a variety of finishes with either foot. He’s brilliant in the air, he places or goes for power. He can link up as well. 

Michael Owen and Joe Cole were full of praise for Benzema, who has 227 goals for Madrid

Michael Owen and Joe Cole were full of praise for Benzema, who has 227 goals for Madrid

‘He’s got power when he needs it, he’s brilliant in the air and when he sees an opportunity, he knows his team-mate alongside him but goes I’m the centre-forward – I’m the selfish one.’

Joe Cole, meanwhile, claims Benzema has been the hottest striker in the world in recent years, apart from his former Real Madrid team-mate Ronaldo.

The former Chelsea midfielder added: ‘I played against him many times and in the last 10, 15 years – apart from Ronaldo – he’s been the most dangerous striker.’

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Rio Ferdinand and Joleon Lescott praise Manchester City’s defensive effort

Manchester City’s defence hailed by BT Sport pundits after series of heroic blocks against PSG, with Kyle Walker admitting ‘blocking a shot is like scoring a goal for me’, while Joleon Lescott insists any of the back four could have been man of the match

  • The Manchester City defence blocked nine shots against PSG throughout 
  • Ruben Dias was named man of the match, with John Stones also impressing
  • The 2-0 victory against PSG was City’s 31st clean sheet of the campaign 

BT Sport pundits Joleon Lescott and Rio Ferdinand believe that the improvements made to Manchester City’s defence this season has been one of the biggest factors in the side reaching their first ever Champions League final.

While Riyad Mahrez was scoring the goals up front, the City defence were putting in a serious shift at the back. They blocked nine shots throughout, produced 22 clearances, and won seven aerial duels in what was a complete performance from City’s back four.

Ruben Dias was named man of the match in the 2-0 victory, as City recorded an incredible 31st clean sheet of the campaign. Joleon Lescott, talking after the game on BT Sport, believed that any of the back four could’ve been man of the match. 

Ruben Dias and John Stones hug each other after Manchester City’s 2-0 victory against PSG

‘The enjoyment they get out of it is great to see, the fact they’re all willing to throw their body on the line – that’s the difference for me,’ said Lescott.

‘They’re all aware of what needs to be done. Any of them could’ve been man of the match.’

Pep Guardiola has spent almost £500million on defenders since he arrived, but Rio Ferdinand believes that investment is finally starting to pay off and they are starting to click. 

‘The patience – the patience with which they play, in the past the Otamendis, the others would defend on their own,’ Ferdinand said.

‘The reaction is great, there’s been players in central defence for Pep who played as individuals, they haven’t been a unit – that’s been a big difference since Dias came in.

Kyle Walker has been in immense form for Manchester City recently, and impressed again

Kyle Walker has been in immense form for Manchester City recently, and impressed again

Kyle Walker and Oleksander Zinchenko also impressed at full back, and they were even seen celebrating when they prevented the goals from going in. 

‘Walker was immense today. Tactically he had it spot on,’ Ferdinand added.

‘He switches off sometimes but this kid is in the form of his life, physically no one can match him in world football – to watch him play out here, the authority he plays with is great to see.’  

‘It’s a team game, we all go and celebrate a goal but the main thing is keeping clean sheets,’ Walker said after the game.

‘We’ve done tremendously well in doing that. Blocking a shot is like scoring a goal for me.’

Oleksander Zinchenko and Dias celebrate Manchester City's first goal against PSG

Oleksander Zinchenko and Dias celebrate Manchester City’s first goal against PSG

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Phil Foden lauded as ‘the best young player in the world’ by Rio Ferdinand after PSG win

Phil Foden lauded as ‘the best young player in the world’ and a level above Erling Haaland by Rio Ferdinand – as Man City blaze into the Champions League final following stunning win over Paris Saint Germain

  • Rio Ferdinand believes Phil Foden is the best young footballer on the planet 
  • The Manchester United legend watched on as a pundit as City defeated PSG
  • He feels that on form Foden is surpassing the exploits of Erling Haaland 
  • Pep Guardiola’s side have finally made their way to a Champions League final  

Rio Ferdinand has heaped praise on Manchester City after the club finally achieved its long-standing aim of reaching the Champions League, while hailing Phil Foden as ‘the best young player in the world.’

City dazzled against a Paris Saint Germain side which quickly lost its head inside the Etihad, with Angel Di Maria receiving a straight red card in a painful 4-1 aggregate defeat. 

Ferdinand was left in awe by the performance of his once rivals, and reserved a specific segment of praise for the 20-year-old Foden who did not look an inch out of place against the world’s best.

Phil Foden is currently the best young football on the planet, according to Rio Ferdinand

Speaking on BT Sport after the match, Ferdinand said Foden is now surpassing Erling Haaland

Speaking on BT Sport after the match, Ferdinand said Foden is now surpassing Erling Haaland

‘At the moment I would say Phil Foden is the best young player in the world right now on form,’ Ferdinand said from the BT Sport studio.

‘[Erling] Haaland is yet to play at this level. In terms of this moment, Foden is the best on form.’

Ferdinand heaped praise on City's approach and the way Pep Guardiola took apart PSG

Ferdinand heaped praise on City’s approach and the way Pep Guardiola took apart PSG

‘By the end of it they were taking the mick, it was embarrassing for PSG, a team who are full of experience and full of winners. Huge hats off to Pep and his team.

‘[It was a] Totally dominant display – we were wondering “is it a step too far?” The last 45 mins in Paris was a pivotal moment, we wondered “can they carry the same momentum?”

‘[Ruben] Dias and [John] Stones were impenetrable, Foden and Mahrez were immense going forward, Fernandinho was superb at the age of 36, it was a very, very good performance from a top top team.’

Fellow pundit Joe Hart was in full agreement with Ferdinand, noting that Foden is coming from humble beginnings in the north west England to dominate at the highest level of world football.

‘Look at [Foden]’s freedom. His name is Phil, he’s 20 from Stockport and he’s lighting it up! It’s so important for Man City to have a player doing that,’ Hart added. 

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Gary Neville has made WhatsApp group of pundits to present unified voice against breakaway league 

Gary Neville forms pundit army to help fight any further Big Six breakaway plots, with former Man United captain setting up WhatsApp group including BT rivals Gary Lineker, Rio Ferdinand and Jake Humphrey

  • Gary Neville led the fight on Sky Sports against the European Super League 
  • The pundit believes his colleagues can play a part to prevent more stunts like it
  • Neville has formed a WhatsApp group to unite broadcasters on the subject 
  • Gary Lineker, Jamie Carragher and Rio Ferdinand are among those involved  

Gary Neville has brought together a group of pundits, broadcasters and commentators in an attempt to present a unified voice — and prevent further attempts at a breakaway league.

The former Manchester United and England defender is understood to have launched a collaboration that crosses broadcaster rivalries and includes the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Gary Lineker and Steve McManaman.

A call has already taken place and another is due on Tuesday between those involved, with initial plans set to be discussed. 

Gary Neville is continuing the fight against another attempt at a breakaway league project 

He has brought together a group of pundits, broadcasters and commentators in an attempt to present a unified voice, including Rio Ferdinand

And Gary Lineker

The Sky Sports presenter has got the likes of Rio Ferdinand (L) and Gary Lineker (R) involved

The aim is thought to be to ensure that the group can present a powerful, aligned voice against any moves from club owners to take the game away from its supporters.

Others involved in what is a powerful WhatsApp group include Neville’s fellow Sky pundit Jamie Carragher and Jake Humphrey (BT).

The plot to create a breakaway European Super League is behind the move. Neville’s role in speaking out against the now-defunct proposal is known to have set the tone and played a key role in its downfall. 

Jake Humphrey is also involved in a WhatsApp group that sees the broadcasters come together

Neville has additionally called-on the support of his  Sky Sports colleague Jamie Carragher

Jake Humphrey from BT and Jamie Carragher of Sky are also involved in a WhatsApp group 

Setting up of group comes amid a continued backlash against those involved in breakaway

Setting up of group comes amid a continued backlash against those involved in breakaway

There is a recognition that those from within the game who now work in the media can play a key part in ensuring that any further attempts also fail.

While those involved work for a variety of different broadcasters, there is nothing to stop them joining forces on major issues within football.

The setting up of the group comes amid a continued backlash against those involved in the botched breakaway. 

After protests at Chelsea and Arsenal, Manchester United fans invaded Old Trafford on Sunday and caused their match with Liverpool to be postponed.

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Rio Ferdinand hails ‘complete striker’ Karim Benzema after super goal for Real against Chelsea

Rio Ferdinand hails ‘complete striker’ Karim Benzema after Real Madrid man moves joint fourth on list of all-time Champions League scorers and claims Chelsea would have won the tie in Spain if he had been playing in blue

  • Karim Benzema scored a superb goal as Real Madrid drew 1-1 against Chelsea
  • It was the French striker’s 71st goal in the history of the club competition 
  • Rio Ferdinand heaped praise on the standard of the 33-year-old’s display 

Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole heaped praise upon Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema after his goal against Chelsea on Tuesday saw him move joint-fourth on the list of all-time Champions League scorers.

Benzema’s ruthless finish in the 29th minute of the game salvaged a drew for Real Madrid after Christian Pulisic got a vital away goal for Thomas Tuchel’s men.

The strike saw Benzema take his all-time Champions League tally to 71, level with another Real hero in the legendary striker Raul.

Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring an excellent goal in Real Madrid’s draw with Chelsea

Benzema converted a thunderous strike from close range after his team had fallen behind

Benzema converted a thunderous strike from close range after his team had fallen behind

‘If he [Benzema] is in the Chelsea team today they win today and at Stamford Bridge (in next week’s second leg),’ Ferdinand told BT Sport. ‘Complete striker. He has got all the basic fundamentals down to a tee. He is a top technician.’

Former Chelsea midfielder Cole was also left impressed by the Frenchman’s display.

‘He [Benzema] has become a leader,’ Cole said. ‘He led the line. He was the bright spark in the first 30 minutes, the game was running away from them. 

‘It was an exquisite finish, on the turn – a top, top striker at the very best of his game. He celebrated to his mate (Sergio) Ramos (who was injured an watching from the stands). 

‘Chelsea need to keep him quiet in the second because he is the difference maker.’ 

Rio Ferdinand said Chelsea would have won the game if they had Karim Benzema in blue

Rio Ferdinand said Chelsea would have won the game if they had Karim Benzema in blue

Ex-Chelsea midfielder Cole said his old club faced a striker 'at the very best of his game'

Ex-Chelsea midfielder Cole said his old club faced a striker ‘at the very best of his game’

The Frenchman, 33, has been at Real Madrid since 2009 when he joined from French side Lyon and has won four Champions League titles with the Spanish giants.

His 71st Champions League not only moves his joint fourth on the all-time scorer list but he is also two strikes behind Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski, who has 73 goals to his name.

The runaway leaders are Barcelona’s Lionel Messi on 120 and Benzema’s former Real team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who leads the way with 134 goals.

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Rio Ferdinand’s agent questions why Ryan Giggs didn’t make Hall of Fame shortlist and John Terry did

Rio Ferdinand’s agent Jake Mallen questions why Ryan Giggs didn’t make the Premier League Hall of Fame shortlist while John Terry did despite his 2011 race row with the former Manchester United defender’s younger brother Anton

  • The Premier League announced a 23-man shortlist for the new Hall of Fame
  • Ryan Giggs is said to have missed the list due to his impending court case 
  • The Wales manager is due in court after he was charged with three offences in which he has denied
  • Rio Ferdinand’s agent has asked why John Terry made the list and not Giggs
  • Terry was given a four-game ban for racially abusing Rio’s brother Anton
  • The former Chelsea defender though was cleared by court in July 2012 

Rio Ferdinand’s agent has questioned why Ryan Giggs has not made the Premier League’s Hall of Fame shortlist when John Terry has made the 23-man selection.

Ferdinand’s former Manchester United teammate Giggs is set to appear in court later this week after he was charged with assaulting two women and ‘controlling or coercive behaviour’.

Former Chelsea captain Terry meanwhile handed a four-game ban and fined £220,000 by The FA for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during a match against Queen’s Park Rangers back in 2011.

Ryan Giggs is believed to have missed the Hall of Fame shortlist due to his court case

Rio Ferdinand's agent has questioned why Giggs missed the list but John Terry made it

Rio Ferdinand’s agent has questioned why Giggs missed the list but John Terry made it

The former Chelsea captain was involved in a 2011 race row with Rio's brother Anton

The former Chelsea captain was involved in a 2011 race row with Rio’s brother Anton

The case was also taken to court though the current Aston Villa assistant manager was found not guilty.

After the Premier League announced it’s 23-man shortlist on Monday evening, Jake Mallen of New Era Global Sports tweeted out about the decision to include one but not the other.

He said: ‘Ryan Giggs not on there…but John Terry racially abuses a player on the pitch but still gets selected.’

Giggs is currently Wales manager but will not be taking charge of the national team at this summer’s European Championship, with Robert Page put in temporary control.

The Welshman has protested his innocence, said he will plead not guilty in court and added that he looks forward to clearing his name. He is due at Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court on Wednesday. 

Giggs didn’t make the list despite being the player to have won the most Premier League titles in the competition’s history.

Terry is also one of the league’s most successful ever players having won five titles as captain with Chelsea.

Terry was banned for four games by the FA though a court case cleared him of racial abuse

Terry was banned for four games by the FA though a court case cleared him of racial abuse

The incident with Anton Ferdinand came in a Premier League match held in October 2011. 

Anton Ferdinand accused Terry of saying,’You f***ing black c***, you f***ing knobhead’. 

The case went to trial in July 2012. Terry’s defence was that he thought Ferdinand had accused him of saying ‘f***ing black c***’ and he had merely repeated the words back to him, while denying he said them first.

Although the court found Terry’s version of events to be ‘unlikely’, there was sufficient doubt and he was cleared of racial abuse. 

The FA, though, required a lower burden of proof for their own investigation and two months later they found Terry – who they had already sacked as captain – guilty of racial abuse and banned him for four games.

Mallen is a commercial and media executive for New Era Global Sports, a company in which both Rio and Anton Ferdinand are ambassador and mentors. 

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