Rio Ferdinand listed out his top 5 young Premier League talents this week, and some of the omissions and inclusions might leave you confused.
If you’ve been a football fan for a decent amount of time, you’ll be well aware of Rio Ferdinand and his accomplishments within the English game – particularly during his legendary 12-year spell with Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Nowadays, Ferdinand has transitioned to punditry, as many ex-professional footballers tend to do. While ex-pros normally make up the majority of punditry teams across many nations and networks, people do have to understand that this doesn’t mean they are always correct or that they are experts. While yes, they tend to know more about how the game is played than the average Joe, we have seen over the years that pundits are capable of producing some truly atrocious opinions.
This time around, Rio Ferdinand discussed his top 5 Premier League young talents on social media this week, and remember – you are allowed to disagree with him, although the list isn’t bad by any means.
Ferdinand started out by listing Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold as his undisputed #1 Premier League young talent. This is hard to debate against, as the English international has been a key player for Liverpool for quite some time now, and already has far more experience at the top level than any other player in consideration for this list.
Following that, Rio Ferdinand named 4 other players and 1 ‘near miss’, although he stated that these weren’t in order. The Manchester United legend waxed lyrical about Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli:
"” I think he’ll be a major player in world football in years to come….A great player, his awareness and intelligence is mad.”"
Martinelli has slowed down a bit in 2020 for Arsenal, especially following Eddie Nketiah’s recall from Leeds United, but the Brazilian has plenty of promise and has the look of a top player. Rio Ferdinand clearly sees it the same way.
Following that, Rio Ferdinand also pinpointed Manchester City’s Phil Foden as one of his top 5 – a selection that most would make, in my opinion. Foden clearly has immense talent but is waiting for a lengthy run in the Manchester City first-team. His fellow English age-mates are all playing plenty of football, so if Pep Guardiola doesn’t grant Foden his wishes soon, the midfield might set his sights elsewhere.
Chelsea right-back Reece James also made the list. He is someone that has burst into the spotlight over the last few months, showing some serious promise as a right-back for Frank Lampard’s team. James will likely battle it out long-term with #1 Trent Alexander-Arnold to be England’s starting right-back.
Lastly, Rio Ferdinand named fellow Manchester United fan-favourite Mason Greenwood into his team. Dubbed the ‘new RVP’ Greenwood is a technical monster, who has already had an electric, clinical start to his career as a professional footballer. While most would have expected Ferdinand to name Greenwood a little bit earlier in the list, his inclusion is still welcomed.
Rio Ferdinand also picked Pedro Neto as his ‘just missed’ player. The Wolves winger has gone a bit under the radar, but is yet another wonderful Portuguese youngster coming through the ranks.
Some of the most notable omissions from Ferdinand’s list include Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi.