Rio Ferdinand names his 12 world-class players after Bukayo Saka snub

Rio Ferdinand does not believe Bukayo Saka is yet world class  (PA Wire)
Rio Ferdinand does not believe Bukayo Saka is yet world class (PA Wire)

Rio Ferdinand has revealed the 12 men’s footballers he currently believes to be world class.

The former Manchester United defender was asked to come up with his list by TNT Sports ahead of this week’s Champions League action, settling on a group of a dozen elite individuals.

Making the cut from reigning continental champions Manchester City were Ederson, Kyle Walker, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, while Liverpool trio Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah also made the list.

Bayern Munich’s Harry Kane, Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe and Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham and Vinicius Jr completed the line-up.

Bellingham’s inclusion was questioned by Ferdinand’s fellow pundit Martin Keown, particularly with Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka snubbed.

The midfielder has been in scintillating form since a summer switch to the Spanish capital from Borussia Dortmund but Keown believes that Saka has just as strong a case.

“Well, I think Bellingham is one that I would question,” the ex-Arsenal man said. “Of course, he’s in amazing form right now with Real Madrid. But we look at Saka – he’s been the England player of the year for the last two years and Bellingham’s not got a look in on that and he’s still on Rio’s list so, I don’t know, maybe Rio’s being a bit mischievous with Arsenal fans.”

Ferdinand subsequently rowed back Bellingham’s inclusion, suggesting that the England international still has more work to do to be considered in the top bracket.

“They’ve actually got that list a little bit wrong, because Bellingham was on the list just below that on his own, edging into there,” Ferdinand explained. “I think the thing that lets him not be on that list, for me right now, is just time. He will be there – he’s in world-class form. You just need that time – and that’s where I see Saka.

“Saka’s got that world-class potential, he just hasn’t been exposed to the knockout stages of the Champions League – the longevity is the difference. If you look at that list, you can see they’ve played in the top, most prestigious games and they’ve produced in those moments. And they’ve all done ridiculous things over a long period of time.”