Comparing Manchester United new boy Harry Maguire to Liverpool talisman Virgil van Dijk is “unfair”, says Rio Ferdinand, despite there being obvious links between two big-money centre-halves.
Back in the winter window of 2018, those at Anfield raised eyebrows when investing a then record-breaking £75 million ($91m) transfer fee in a Netherlands international.
Van Dijk has proved to be a shrewd addition, with his value having increased further during a productive spell on Merseyside.
He is, however, no longer the most expensive defender in world football, with that title having been passed to Maguire on the back of an £80m ($97m) deal this summer.
The England star has settled quickly at Old Trafford, earning plenty of early plaudits, but Ferdinand feels a United new boy faces a different kind of pressure and challenge to that taken on by Van Dijk.
Red Devils legend Ferdinand told Express Sport of Maguire: “Inevitably he is going to be judged against someone like Virgil van Dijk because he has gone for more money.
“He’ll be judged against what he’s done and they’ve now won the Champions League.
“But I think it’s an unfair comparison because what Virgil came in to was a team that was closer to the top, closer to winning and a lot of the jigsaw was already pieced together.”
Ferdinand broke the transfer record for a defender on two occasions in his illustrious career, so knows all about the expectation that accompanies a high-profile move.
He believes Maguire will prove to be a shrewd addition for United, with there seemingly no distractions for him at present, but acknowledges that he has plenty to prove and deliver at a club that has slipped backwards from where it once was and believes it still should be.
The ex-England captain added: “It can be daunting, it’s big pressure and the price tag can play on your mind.
“I remember when it happened to me, none of my mates spoke about the price, it was more about the players I was going to playing with.
“I think the big difference is that I went into a changing room that was full of winners, consistent winners.
“It is not an easier scenario for Maguire but a different pressure. I was expected to come in and know how to win, to come in and win straight away.
“I was expected to come straight in and hit the top level because that’s where they were playing at.
“Now, he has come into a team that, confidence-wise and position-wise is at a lower level. There’s a lot of ground to make up and that’s a pressure in itself”