Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Robbie Fowler - BT Sport has ex­clu­sively live cov­er­age of the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League. Watch live on TV or via the BT Sport App BY TOM HOP­KIN­SON

RIO FER­DI­NAND has risked the wrath of Liver­pool fans by claim­ing Vir­gil van Dijk is NOT the best de­fender in the world – be­cause that’s Ser­gio Ramos.

For­mer Manch­ester United and Eng­land star Fer­di­nand has scoffed at the idea that the Dutch­man (above) has even been the best player in the Premier League this sea­son.

Asked if Van Dijk was now the No.1 de­fender in the world, Fer­di­nand, who won six Premier League ti­tles and the Cham­pi­ons League dur­ing his time at Old Traf­ford, said: “I’d still put Ser­gio Ramos there.

“Ramos, when the big games come up, the tro­phies are there to be won, he’s nor­mally stand­ing there with his sleeves rolled up.

“He is not be­ing shifted at the mo­ment.

“To be con­sid­ered the best in the world, you have got to win stuff.

“You can­not just play well for your team and sit there as run­ner-up or com­ing third or fourth.

“That’s why, when peo­ple talk about Player of the Year and you see they haven’t won any­thing, I am think­ing, ‘How? You haven’t in­flu­enced a team to win things’.

“Vir­gil is a fan­tas­tic player, po­ten­tially the best in the world but, right now, no. And I’d think he would agree.”

What about player of the sea­son? Fer­di­nand added: “There’s Ra­heem Ster­ling, Ser­gio Aguero, David Silva, Bernardo Silva...

“Vir­gil? No. If Liver­pool win the league it’s le­git – but odd if they have come sec­ond or third.”

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