“He failed the Rashford test” - Rio Ferdinand names 4 central defenders from the past who are better than Arsenal's William Saliba aged 21 

Rio Ferdinand names four past players who are better than William Saliba
Rio Ferdinand names four past players who are better than William Saliba.

Former Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand has named four central defenders from the past who were better than 21-year-old Arsenal defender William Saliba.

The Englishman has urged fans not to put pressure on Saliba following Arsenal's 3-1 defeat to the Red Devils in the Premier League last weekend (September 4).

The pundit told Vibe with Five (via TEAMtalk):

“Jonathan Woodgate, Sol Campbell, John Terry, trust me. Woodgate, 100 percent, without any hesitation. Wes Brown at 21. He was winning Champions Leagues. He was in the treble-winning team, he played games in that team."
'Let him play'Rio Ferdinand tells Arsenal fans to stop 'salivating' over William Saliba and give him time to mature

Saliba initially struggled for game time at the Emirates after joining Arsenal in 2019. The Frenchman spent loan spells at clubs like Nice and Olympique de Marseille, having never found a place in the Gunners squad.

However, the France international has finally found his footing with manager Mikel Arteta deploying him in all six of Arsenal's Premier League fixtures this season. Saliba even scored a goal and provided an assist in that time.

Despite his brilliant start to the 2022-23 season, Ferdinand believes that the defender still has a long way to go. He said:

“He failed the [Marcus] Rashford test. You don’t need to put this pressure on Saliba, he’s just five games in just let him play. You’re salivating over Saliba but he’s probably in the changing room thinking, ‘I’ve got my DNA on two, maybe three, of the goals in some way shape or form.’ Some people might say three, I’m saying two."

Ferdinand added:

“His fingerprints are on two of the goals and he’s sitting there with 0 points from the game. He’s playing offside. The manager’s not told him to do that. They didn’t play offside at any other time in that game. He’s on the halfway line thinking he’s last man and steps up over the halfway line to play offside when Ben White’s playing him onside.”

Rio Ferdinand condemns comparisons between Arsenal defender and himself

Ferdinand's recent comments about Saliba are not the first time he disapproved of Arsenal fans' infatuation with the player.

Following the north London outfit's opening Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace, Gary Neville was impressed with Saliba's debut performance. He even compared the Frenchman to his former teammate Ferdinand. He said (via TEAMtalk):

"I was massively impressed by him. He reminded me of a young Rio Ferdinand."

Ferdinand clearly disagreed with Neville's high praise of Saliba, saying:

“I broke the British transfer record at that time and people are drawing comparisons? It’s a madness! Give the boy some time! He’s doing well. But you don’t judge players when it’s all going well. You say, Brilliant, I’d like to see the next phase."
'calm''smooth mover''a rare breed''nothing else like him around''a future great of French football'The scouting and development of William Saliba - a special talent - and the challenges he has overcome#afc…

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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