Virgil van Dijk is the standout defender right now, according to Rio Ferdinand
By Alasdair Hooper – @adjhooper1992
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand believes Virgil van Dijk is the standout defender in the Premier League right now.
The Southampton defender was at the centre of the one of the most high profile transfer tussles during the summer window – with Liverpool heavily interested in signing the Dutchman – but the 26-year-old ended up staying with the Saints.
The ex-Celtic man is now in the process of reintegrating himself into the Southampton first team and, speaking exclusively to Tony Cascarino for talkSPORT, Ferdinand explained why he rates the centre-back so highly.
“I think Virgil van Dijk – he’s a player at the moment that has been courted by a lot of the top teams,” said the former England captain who has just announced plans to become a professional boxer.
“Southampton did well to keep hold of him.
“He’s got the stature; he’s a big guy and great on the floor as well.”
Ferdinand, who also turned out for West Ham, Leeds and Queens Park Rangers during his career, explained further how current defensive coaching has changed in the Premier League.
“Defending isn’t the first thing on defenders lips these days – that’s the difference,” the 38-year-old added.
“They think about passing the ball. The way the coaching is at the moment it’s all about on the ball, receiving the ball and then you think about defending.
“That’s the big difference for defenders nowadays.
“Especially things like one v one situations or the basics – defending your back post when the ball is wide or defending the front post when the ball is in wide areas.
“I think the basic elements of defending are probably not as high up the list of working on as what they once were.
“When you find someone like Virgil van Dijk, who is very good on the ball but also very good defensively, you do start jumping around and going crazy.”
Rio Ferdinand was speaking ahead of the EE Wembley Cup. To see Rio back on the pitch at Wembley click here.