Rio Ferdinand has labelled his former Manchester United team-mate Louis Saha as “the hardest” player he came up against — believing injuries preventing him from becoming “an absolutely crazy player”.
The duo shared a dressing room during the glittering days of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, famously winning a Premier League and Champions League double in the 2007/08 season.
Having initially shone under Ferguson’s tutelage, Saha was unable to cement a consistent starting berth at the club due to various injury issues and the influx of attacking talent that walked through the door during the mid-to-late noughties at Man Utd.
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The now 44-year-old ultimately played over 20 Premier League games for Man Utd in just one of the four full seasons he was at the club, eventually leaving for Everton in 2008 shortly after collecting his Champions League winners’ medal.
Although Saha’s name isn’t one of the first that springs to mind when thinking about great forwards who played under Ferguson, Ferdinand has sought to shift the narrative, suggesting the Frenchman was his “hardest” opponent when they were both on the turf.
On his Vibe With Five YouTube channel, Ferdinand said: “Shout out to Louis I love him. What a player. He actually in training he was levels. I remember Nemanja Vidic saying: ‘Louis Saha WOAH, does it get harder than this?’
“He is the hardest player I have played against. He used to be a madness. He was a joke. Only injuries stopped him exploding and being an absolutely crazy player for Man United.
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“This guy cared, he is one of them guys when I look back now can see there was pain in his eyes because of the injuries. He knew what he was capable of and he wasn’t able to go out and do it because he was held back by injuries.”
He continued: “This guy was as quick as anything out there, off both feet, stronger than anybody, knew where to run and his timing was mad. Mad player. He could have been an absolute madness. He came on and changed games.
“I remember in training he was the hardest. Out of all the strikers I trained against at Man United he was probably the hardest one to play against.
“[Wayne] Rooney took the ball when the ball came in and would take it that way so the defender would come with you and then take it on the outside. Saha was the man at that.”