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Ramos will remain active in football at 40, der Vaart declares

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Sergio Ramos is the best defender in the world and can keep on playing until he is 40, according to former Real Madrid team-mate, Rafael van der Vaart.

Ramos was very influential in helping Madrid end Barcelona’s run of success in LaLiga, scoring 11 goals as Zinedine Zidane’s squad were crowned champions for the first time since 2017.

The Spaniard was signed from Sevilla as a teenager in 2005 and was still young when he was joined at the club by Van der Vaart, who stayed at the Santiago Bernabeu for two seasons before joining Tottenham in 2010.

However, having watched on as his old club secured the title once again, the Dutchman is impressed by how Ramos has matured and, considering his physical condition, sees no reason why the 34-year-old should be thinking of retiring anytime soon.

“For me, he is the best defender in the world,” Van der Vaart told Stats Perform News as part of the UEFA Europa League Trophy Tour.

“When I was at Real Madrid, he was 21 or 22 and bursting with energy. He wanted to be everywhere. Free kicks, corner kicks, everywhere.

“Now it is different, he has so much focus now. A focus on winning and he uses all his talents for that purpose. He’s aware of his skills, strength and conditioning and that helped him being so important for his team in winning already so many titles. His body is unbelievable, he is a machine.

“When I was watching a game the other day, I thought, ‘how old is he? 34?’ I believe he can still be playing for another six years, I’ve so much respect for him.”

With LaLiga won, Madrid will now focus on potential European success as they return to Champions League action.

They need to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit in their last-16 tie with Manchester City if they are to progress, with the remaining knockout rounds to be staged in Portugal, though Ramos will miss the match against Pep Guardiola’s team at the Etihad Stadium due to suspension.

However, Madrid have been outstanding since the season restarted in Spain midway through June, and Van der Vaart expects a “really interesting” return clash with City, who finished second in the Premier League.

“Real Madrid have been very, very good after the coronavirus break,” he said. “They have all been very focused [on the games]. Including a 10-game winning streak.

“Karim Benzema and Ramos have been a key part of the team for me, and Zidane for bringing calmness to the team.

“However, I watched Manchester City against Arsenal playing the semi-final of the FA Cup, as well as other games. They have so much individual talent, so they are always dangerous, for any team, including the magnificent Real Madrid. That’s what we’ve seen in the first leg, so it is going to be a really interesting game.”
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