Rio Ferdinand names Gabriel Martinelli and Reece James in his Premier League top-five under-21s list

Gabriel Martinelli and Reece James are in Rio Ferdinand's top-five Premier League under-21s list
Gabriel Martinelli and Reece James are in Rio Ferdinand’s top-five under-21s list (Getty)

Rio Ferdinand has named Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli and Chelsea’s Reece James in his list of top five under-21 players in the Premier League.

The former Manchester United centre-back had Trent Alexander-Arnold at the top of his list following his superb performances for Liverpool.

Manchester City’s Phil Foden and Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood also made the cut.

But there was no place in Ferdinand’s list for the likes of Declan Rice, Mason Mount,Arsenal duo Matteo Guendouzi and Bukayo Saka, or Dwight McNeil, who has enjoyed an excellent season for Burnley.

Here’s what Ferdinand had to say on Instagram about his top-five list…

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Trent Alexander-Arnold has been one of Liverpool's standout stars
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been one of Liverpool’s standout stars (Getty Images)

He’s the best right-back in the world right now, there ain’t no one better.

I just think he’s the modern-day player. And he’s in a team where they have a lot of the ball, he’s in a team where they dominate teams, they’re on the front foot, it suits his game perfectly.

Liverpool having a defensive-minded right back doesn’t suit the way they play, so people saying he’s not great defensively, but in the team he’s playing he’s perfect. So it doesn’t matter, he’s perfect.

He plays with a composure beyond his years.

GABRIEL MARTINELLI

Gabriel Martinelli had been an instant hit at Arsenal
Gabriel Martinelli had been an instant hit at Arsenal (Getty Images)

I watched him against Bournemouth away, Jesus, the way this boy played.

He is a proper player. I think he’s going to be a major player in world football in years to come, 18-years-old doing what he’s doing.

The goal against Chelsea alone, normally your legs are gone by them, you’ve got no juice in the legs, he’s got the composure to slot it.

But his awareness of the way he plays, the way he moves on the pitch, his intelligence to receive the ball, the positions he takes up, he comes inside at the right times, asks the opposing full-back questions, it’s mad, he’s a mature player for such a young kid.

PHIL FODEN

Phil Foden is waiting for a regular role at Manchester City
Phil Foden is waiting for a regular role at Manchester City (Getty Images)

The way this kid glides, he’s an artist as well the way he plays.

I’ve been crying out for him to get more games. I’ve been frustrated [with his lack of minutes]. I’m sure he has.

But his time will come. Pep seems to be absolutely committed to playing this boy at some point.

Every time he does play he gives you a little glimpse. That’s what I love about him. The way he plays, with his head up, analysing, taking snapshots of where people are and then making the right decision, and then exploiting that. It’s poetry in motion sometimes.

REECE JAMES

Reece James is widely regarded as one of Chelsea's best young talents
Reece James is widely regarded as one of Chelsea’s best young talents (AMA/Getty Images)

This boy, I like him. The way he plays, his crossing puts teams under pressure. There’s a devilment in his passing. He wants to hurt the opposing team.

Becks [David Beckham] used to do it, Trent does it, when they cross a ball from out wide, they make the defender if they’re not positioned right, they end up having face their own goal and put the ball out for a corner or a throw.

And if it comes back into play it’s a difficult ball to clear on their weak side.

He’s all-round, I think he’s got so much growth in his game, he’s versatile, he can play centre-half, right-back, central midfield. The kid has got it all and it looks like he’s got a great temperament, which is huge.

Physically, he’s like a light-middleweight boxer. He’s strong, quick, solid aggressive.

I think Frank will find a position for him to play regularly next season.

MASON GREENWOOD

Mason Greenwood has shown a sharp eye for goal with Manchester United
Mason Greenwood has shown a sharp eye for goal with Manchester United (Getty Images)

Left foot, right foot, bang, the ball hits the back of the net. That’s how he moves.

I’ve seen this kid since he was very young and I’ve heard people talking about him at the club since he was very young that this boy’s gonna be special.

Every level he’s played he’s looked unfazed and he’s stepped up easily with pure, pure ease.

You can’t put a price on that, that cold-hearted, calm confidence is just mad.

And when he gets stronger, that little bit more cute, him and Martinelli are going to score a lot of goals in their careers.

Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more stories like this, check our sport page.

No comments