World Cup winner Alessandro Nesta has insisted he would have been able to stop Manchester City’s Erling Haaland in his prime. Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm since joining Manchester City in July, scoring 14 goals in just eight league matches.

Defenders in England have been unable to cope with Haaland, but Nesta believes he could hold his own against the Norwegian striker as he experienced playing against the Brazilian Ronaldo who was at a ‘different’ level.

‘I can play, yes! Because I played against Ronaldo, the Brazilian,’ Nesta explained to COPA90 when asked about how he would have fared against Haaland.‘Haaland is very good, but the other one [Ronaldo] was something different. ‘I played against Messi, against Cristiano, but the Brazilian Ronaldo, for me, was different.’

Nesta was widely regarded as one of the finest centre-backs of his generation as he won three Serie A titles, two Champions League trophies and the World Cup with Italy in 2006 during his playing days.

‘Too much space – you are dead!’ Nesta’s comments on containing Haaland echo those of former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, who recently admitted he was ‘baffled’ that no one had tried to put the City striker off his game yet.

‘One thing that I haven’t seen any defender do yet is try and ruffle his feathers, and try and take him out of his rhythm,’ Ferdinand said on the FIVE podcast on his YouTube channel.

Speaking about how he would go about stopping Haaland, Nesta said it is important to not give the forward any space or he will punish you. ‘I try to stay close to him. When he tries to start [running], maybe I block [him],’ Nesta added.

‘And when the ball’s in the box, no one touches him. I don’t think people are understanding that sometimes you do need to have body contact in the area or in the dangerous zones to put him off.’

‘I’ve seen him making runs from the halfway line untouched. Surely you’ve got to stand in his path, in his way, shoulder him, push him a little bit. I don’t see no one doing it. I’m baffled.


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