Wilfried Zaha compares Rio Ferdinand and Virgil van Dijk in best defender debate

Wilfried Zaha believes Virgil van Dijk is the only defender who stacks up to Rio Ferdinand’s ability on the ball.

The Crystal Palace forward spent a season with Ferdinand during his ill-feted two years at Manchester United.

Describing his former teammate, the 29-year-old said he “was composed to the next level”.

But he struggled to separate him and Van Dijk after seeing the best of the Liverpool defender in recent clashes.

“He’s fast, calm, strong. He’s got everything,” Zaha told Jamie Carragher on The Greatest Games Podcast.

“Obviously Rio [Ferdinand] was just composed to the next level, but I feel like Virgil has everything down to a tee.

“Like to the point where he can muck about when a ball comes over the top and flick it around the striker and stuff and he’s fast enough to get back on to it.

“I don’t look into defender’s games as much as when I play against him.

“When we play against Liverpool it’s like, how am I going to get around this guy?”

Zaha joined United from Palace in 2013 after talks with Sir Alex Ferguson. The winger agreed to the deal, only to then see the legendary Scot retire and be replaced by David Moyes.

He would go on to spend two disappointing seasons at Old Trafford – much of that out on loan-  and admitted to Ferdinand that Ferguson’s shock departure left him “crushed”.

Speaking to Ferdinand earlier this year, he said: “It crushed me a little bit because it was like, after speaking to him, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to go there. I had no idea he was leaving.

“He didn’t tell me exactly how he wanted me to play.

“He just told me straightforward stuff like obviously you know ‘you’re going to have to fight for your position you’re not going to play all the time, there’s a lot of youngsters in the team so you’ll be able to go in with the likes of Welbeck and Cleverley’.

“I was like ‘that is more than fine all I want is my opportunity just to show what I can do’. It was a straightforward conversation.”

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