Manchester United legend Nemanja Vidic faced some of the world’s leading strikers in his day, with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez considered to be among the best.
The former Red Devils defender spent eight memorable years at Old Trafford before 2006 and 2014.
During that time he cemented a standing as one of the finest performers on the planet, with his qualities often tested by the most fearsome frontmen around.
In the Premier League, Vidic crossed swords with Argentine star Aguero in derby dates with Manchester City and admits the South American boasts a unique skill set.
The Serbian told The Athletic: “Aguero looks like he’s not interested in football on the pitch. He doesn’t look like a guy who will run 10 metres and then — bang — he makes the sprint.
“I’m convinced that Aguero was born as a defender. He knows where the ball will come and where he can attack. But in the box, he has a low centre of gravity, which helps him change direction quickly — especially against the big English defenders.
“He shoots quickly, he can do the tap in and dribble and score outside the box. I played against him when they beat us 4-1 in the [David] Moyes season.
“That was my worst game for United. I know I’m supposed to choose those two [Champions League] final defeats to Barcelona and they were horrible to lose. That one in Rome, and Wembley was even tougher.”
In those European reversals against Barcelona, Vidic and Co came up against five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi – a man considered to have benefited from the presence of an iconic coach at Camp Nou.
“Guardiola changed Messi,” Vidic said.
“He used to play on the right and had a tendency to cut inside. He was dangerous but predictable.
“Guardiola made him central and he became better. The whole team began to play for him. He runs at defenders with wingers running alongside him. I played against him twice and we lost both times. It’s hard to admit they were the better team, still hard to say and it’s still hard to take.
“We had a great team in 2009. We could’ve done better. We were the European and world champions, Barcelona were more scared of us than we were of them. Beating us gave them more belief. Rome was a tipping point for Guardiola’s Barcelona.”
Another Barcelona star of the present that Vidic faced in Premier League competition is former Liverpool frontman Suarez.
He said of the prolific Uruguayan: “He’s an energetic player. He’s different from Aguero who doesn’t run for 90 minutes; he’s a player who uses instinct.
“Everything is done in bursts. I don’t think he knows exactly what he’s doing but he succeeds.
“The ball will go through a defender’s legs and people will think it’s an accident, but he has this sheer force to do it. He chops and changes direction; he uses his knees, the defenders’ knees.
“He’s very direct and hungry to score. He runs for 90 minutes, he has a fire in him. We had that with some of the players at United.”