Rio Ferdinand says Foden is world class but Saka isn’t

February 14, 2024

TNT Sports expert Rio Ferdinand believes that Phil Foden can be considered “world class”, but Bukayo Saka cannot yet. Foden scored Manchester City’s third goal in the second minute of stoppage time 6.

Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva put City up at half-time, but Magnus Mattsson’s stunning strike from the edge of the area had the Danish hosts level on 34 minutes.

Ferdinand, speaking after the match, was asked by TNT Sports’ Laura Woods about whether Foden, who has 25 goal contributions in 36 games this season, could really be considered “world class”.

“You’ve got to look at Foden like he is world class,” the former Manchester United defender said.

“What he does for the team, he’s important to the team. The assists, goals, with the rhythm of the games, especially this season, he’s got to be in the conversation, or near that at least.”

Bukayo Saka was mentioned as another candidate for the title of “world class,” possibly a direct competitor for a starting spot out wide for England at Euro 2024, but Ferdinand does not think the Arsenal winger is nearly at that level yet.

“I don’t think [Saka is world class] because he hasn’t done it at the top level, winning trophies in a team like this,” Ferdinand explained.

“He’s not [in as good a team as City]. You’ve got to understand and appreciate that Phil Foden has done this – when the medals are handed out, he’s performed. He’s done that against the best teams as well, consistently.

“Saka is more about, he needs the opportunity and platform to play at that level consistently and then we’ll see where he’s at and we’ll consider him then.”

Ferdinand and fellow TNT Sports analyst Joleon Lescott, however, concurred that Saka, with Harry Kane out front, will start for England as their right flank at the European Championships in Germany this summer.
The two experts, who were both formerly active for England, acknowledged that it was tough to choose the Three Lions’ down-left player.
Lescott nodded in agreement as Ferdinand stated that he would choose Marcus Rashford “if everyone is fit and flying.”

Both men, who have 107 England caps between them, were in full agreement about the setup of the England midfield that they thought Gareth Southgate should deploy, with Foden as the number 10, and Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice sat behind the Manchester City man in a double pivot.