Giorgio Chiellini has branded Sergio Ramos as the best defender in the world due to his hard-nosed attitude, which was highlighted by injuring Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in the 2018 Champions League final.
The Italy international centre-back claims that the Real Madrid man knew exactly what he was doing when he hauled down the Reds striker in the early stages of the game, forcing him off with a shoulder injury that compromised the in-form star’s presence at the World Cup a matter of weeks later.
Meanwhile, the Spaniards went on to win the trophy with a 3-1 victory in a match remembered for Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius' mishaps.
- Finisher, creator, Real Madrid leader: Should Benzema be in contention for the Ballon d'Or?
- Out of the Champions League, out of the title race? Man City’s early season crisis continues with historic Arsenal defeat
- Brahim Diaz played more Fortnite than football in Madrid but Guardiola's protege is finally blossoming in Milan
- What crisis?! Arteta’s blueprint emerges as vibrant Arsenal crush Spurs to ignite season
For Chiellini, though, Ramos' action was a “masterstroke” of defending and simply served to underscore his position as the game’s best centre-back.
“Critics can say that he is impulsive, not tactical at all and that because of him there are eight or 10 extra goals conceded a season,” Chiellini considered in his upcoming autobiography, 'I Giorgio', according to AS . “If I caused an extra two or three goals, I wouldn’t live anymore.
“He is very technical and could be a striker, we are opposites. However, he has two characteristics almost no-one has.
“The first is knowing how to be decisive in important games. He makes interventions beyond any logic, even with injuries that he causes with almost diabolical cunning.
“Salah’s was a masterstroke. He always said that he didn’t mean to injure him, but he was aware that falling that way and without letting go of his grip, nine times out of 10 you can break your rival’s arm.
“The second is the force he transmits with his presence. Without him, stars like Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal and Marcelo seem like kids from the Primavera team. Without him, Madrid becomes defenceless.”
Chiellini pointed to the stunning 4-1 home Champions League loss to Ajax in 2019 as an instance that his loss was critical to Madrid.
“After the first match, they gave him a two-game ban because he was honest: he said that in life you have to choose and had looked for a card to wipe his record before the quarter-finals,” the Italian wrote. “With him at the Bernabeu, they can be sure that they would not have lost by a three-goal margin. I’d bet whatever you want.”