Rio Ferdinand hails Man United star as league’s most-consistent defender

Man United legend Rio Ferdinand runs rule over Chris Smalling

Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester United centre-half Chris Smalling is the most-consistent defender in the Premier League this season.

The England international has been ever-present in Louis van Gaal’s first-team and has already partnered Daley Blind, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo at the heart of the United defence.

He’s been probably the most consistent centre-half in the league this year

Rio Ferdinand

Smalling has helped the Red Devils keep five clean sheets in six games and United hadn’t conceded in 641 minutes at Vicarage Road on Saturday after Troy Deeney scored from the spot.

Ferdinand, who played alongside Smalling for three seasons, says the England international is becoming a talisman for the 20-time English champions at the back.

“He’ll have to be pleased with himself now, he’s started the season with a man on a mission to cement his place, first and foremost, in the Man United team, and then to try and build himself to be the talisman in that back line,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“At the moment he’s leading that team from the back, at the back four, he’s doing very, very well. He’s been probably the most consistent centre-half in the league this year, in the Premier League and that’s testament to him working hard and he’s got a desire to work hard.”

The former Leeds United and West Ham United defender revealed his first impressions of Smalling after the 26-year-old moved to the Red Devils from Fulham in 2010.

Ferdinand added: “When I first ever laid eyes on him when he came to Manchester United, you could see straight away the athletic ability he’s got, the strength, physically he’s very capable, aggressive, wants to defend, but the other parts of his game in terms of the finesse and the touch and the passing of the ball, maybe the reading and that concentration wasn’t there but he’s building on that and that’s something he identified and testament to him that he’s working on that and you’re seeing the fruits of that now.”

Van Gaal’s side face PSV Eindhoven in Wednesday night’s Champions League group-stage clash at Old Trafford.

Watch Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League live and exclusive on BT Sport Europe from 19:45 GMT on Wednesday. Visit sport.bt.com/Europe for more information.

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