Who is the best defender in the world? Rio Ferdinand has had his say

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Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has picked his top three centre-backs in world football football at present - and his selections are bound to cause some controversy in the blue half of the city.

During an interview with United star Donny van de Beek on the most recent edition of his Vibe With FIVE podcast, Ferdinand was asked whether he felt that Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk was the best central defender on the planet.

Perhaps not wanting to shower too much praise on a key player for one of the Red Devils' biggest rivals, Ferdinand gave van Dijk due credit for his performances over the past few seasons, but also brought a couple of other contenders into the argument. 

"When he's fit, over the last couple of years he's [Van Dijk] been the go-to guy," admitted the 42-year-old.

"He had the biggest impact on a team, certainly in terms of centre-backs, over probably the last three years."

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Ferdinand, though, was also keen to discuss the merits of United's £36m summer signing Raphael Varane, as well as those of the Frenchman's former Real Madrid colleague Sergio Ramos.

"Varane, I would say, is up there. Him and Varane, [Sergio] Ramos in previous years, as well, they have been the top boys," said Ferdinand, confirming his trio of selections.

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"It's that consistency and the ability to win. Varane is unrivalled alongside Ramos in terms of winning, but with the way his form has been over the last three years, Van Dijk has been immense, man, he's been crazy.

“In terms of a signing, Raphael Varane for Manchester United... He's what I've been asking for over the last three or four years, or five years.

One noticeable absentee from Ferdinand's line-up is Manchester City defender Ruben Dias. The 24-year-old has been a standout performer for Pep Guardiola's men since his move from Benfica last September, lifting the Premier League trophy in his first season at the Etihad.

Asked to explain Dias' omission by his co-host, Ferdinand pointed out that - for him - the Portuguese international hasn't played at the highest level for long enough to be considered on par with those he'd named.

"[Ruben] Dias has been great, but he only played last season. I'm talking about consistency over a number of years. Those guys are probably apart at the moment."

Of course, Rio is entitled to his opinion, but you do wonder how many City fans would swap Dias for Ramos this season if they had the opportunity!

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