Rio Ferdinand has defended Harry Maguire’s Manchester United form, with the ex-England man comparing his struggles to those of Gerard Pique when he played for the club.
The centre-back became the most expensive defender in history when he arrived at Old Trafford from Leicester City in 2019.
Yet he has struggled to replicate the form he has enjoyed for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions since his capture, particularly during a dismal 2021-22 campaign.
Ferdinand has backed the United captain however, pointing to the combination of differing styles between club and country that may have left him shortchanged at the Red Devils.
“In an England shirt he’s been nothing but phenomenal,” he said on YouTube show Vibe with FIVE. “He’s been unreal. You can’t say he’s a dead player, he’s been unbelievable for England.
“What I’m saying is, for England he’s been great, but they play a particular way of football that probably suits him.”
Ferdinand pointed to Barcelona stalwart Pique, who emerged as one of the game’s modern greats after leaving Manchester for Camp Nou, to reinforce his suggestion about adapting to the game.
“Gerard Pique was at Man United, you could argue that he might not have had the career that he’s had at Barcelona if he stayed at Man United because of the way he plays,” he added.
“It’s like boxing, styles make fights – it’s the same in football. The way of Man United’s football, and the way that they are trying to play, hasn’t suited him.
“But [there is] also form and confidence. His confidence has taken a big knock.
“I don’t care who you are. You could be Messi, Ronaldo, Zidane, Mbappe all these players – if their confidence is low they are not the same player.”
Maguire’s form has not seen him dropped from the international set-up however, unlike team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, both of whom were left out by England in March.
Even without a reversal of fortunes, the centre-back will be expected to feature heavily for the Three Lions when they head to the Qatar 2022 World Cup at the end of the year.