The FIFA 22 Team of the Year promotion is just around the corner, with voting now open for those looking to see their favourite footballing stars feature.
One man who has had his say is former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand.
Speaking on the FIVE podcast, the 43-year-old named his Team of the Year for 2021, and it features some surprise inclusions and one HUGE omission.
Premier League Defence
Being one of the greatest defenders to have ever graced the Premier League, it seems fair to say that Rio Ferdinand is well-positioned to select a Team of the Year backline.
Rio opted for Edouard Mendy between the sticks, referencing his big key moments as a deciding factor in a hyper-competitive area of the pitch:
‘‘When I covered a lot of their games (Chelsea), in big key moments, he made big saves. I think that’s where you judge the goalkeeper position, all the nominees are great keepers, and they could all have their say to be in the team”
Mendy is joined at the back by Chelsea team-mate Antonio Rudiger, with the Manchester City trio of Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo completing a full Premier League defence in Rio's FIFA 22 TOTY.
There is room for three midfielders in Rio's Team of the Year, with three men from three different leagues selected.
N'Golo Kante plays the holding midfield role in the side, a player that Rio references as "one of the first names on the team sheet for any manager".
Joining Kante in the middle of the park is PSG's Marco Verratti, after the Italian lead PSG to the Champions League semi-finals before helping Italy to success at last summer's European Championships.
There is a surprise inclusion in the form of Bayern Munich veteran Thomas Muller, who Rio claims to be the number one selection in his midfield:
“Thomas Muller, Number one. Thomas Muller is in there. Because people may not watch on a regular basis let me just read out a couple of stats: No player in the big 5 European leagues has provided as many assists in a single calendar year in 2021, which is 24.”
CR7 > Lionel Messi
Despite being named the Ballon d'Or winner for a record-breaking seventh time, there is no room for Lionel Messi in Rio Ferdinand's FIFA 22 TOTY.
The former Manchester United man has instead opted for former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, alongside Liverpool's Mohammed Salah and Rio's Player of the Year, Robert Lewandowski:
"My guy and the player who should have won all the individual awards this year as the best player in 2021, was robbed in 2020. Is Mr Robert Lewandowski.
"There’s not enough I can say about this guy, he’s scored the most league goals of any player in Europe’s top 5 leagues. That’s enough, that’s all I need to say. There’s so many more stats I could throw out there. If all three of us haven’t got him in our teams it discredits any part of your teams!”
Watch the full video with Rio Ferdinand here to see the debate in full, as Rio, Joel and Ste pick their final selections for the EA SPORTS FIFA 22 TOTY. EA SPORTS FIFA 22 is available worldwide now.