United star Rio claims Premier League is playing second fiddle to Spain
28 August 2009 10:26
It's a Spain: Rio Ferdinand has had to sit out the start of the Premier League season
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes La Liga now puts the Premier League in the shade - because the greatest players go to play in Spain.
Despite all the publicity and hype surrounding English football, the Manchester United centre back remains unconvinced that it is the place to be.
The 30-year-old said: 'La Liga have bought marquee players - I think (Cristiano) Ronaldo obviously, Kaka and (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic are three of the best players in the world and any team would like to have them.
'They've all gone to La Liga alongside the likes of (Lionel) Messi, (Andres) Iniesta, Xavi (Hernandez) and people like that (at Barcelona). So they've got a claim to being the best league in the world.
'I think the last three or four years we've had English teams in the semi-finals of the Champions League . at least two. So that says it all about where the Premier League is at at the moment.
'This season we have to wait and see - with the proof in the pudding - if we're still the best league in the world or not.'
Ferdinand, who has sufferd calf and back problems, added that he has no fears over his long-term fitness as he aims to return on September 12 at Tottenham.
Discussing the fuss that was made over his injuries last season, he complained: 'People made a bit more of it than it was - last season was the first season in a long career so far that I've had a sustained period out of the team. I played 40-odd games last season which is more than most other players in the league - so I'm not doing too badly. A lot of players would be happy to start 40-odd games.'
Speaking about local rivals Manchester City's big spending, Ferdinand said: 'I'm sure they will be hoping to be up there and trying to contend for the top four spots. You've got to look at it as a fan, it's great when there are more contenders for the league title.'
He refuses to condemn the sums that City have spent, saying: 'You can see the social issues and the social ethics of saying the world's in recession at the moment and it may be wiser to spend it in different ways, but who am I to tell them (City) to spend their money in a different way?'
When asked if he wished United was throwing around money like City, Ferdinand said: 'I'd be a lot more envious and maybe a bit jealous if I didn't have the squad that I've got in my training room. I'm confident we can win every game.
'It's early days, you don't win the league in the first couple of weeks of the season, you win towards the end when you put a few good results together and you go through the thick of the Christmas period, and if you get through on top there, hopefully you can get over the line.'