Van de Beek, 23, was handed an opportunity to shine on Tuesday night as the Red Devils hosted Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.
And he took his chance with both hands by producing a brilliant display against the Turkish title holders as United ran out 4-1 winners.
Speaking on BT Sport, Ferdinand said: “I was very impressed. You spend £40m on a player and you want to see him make more than just cameos here and there.
“I think he is the one player in this squad who is happy playing one-touch, two-touch, keeping it simple... sacrificing parts of his game to help other people flourish.
“In any great team you need players like that and he's one player who will make other players tick, and make them play better."
Fellow United legend Paul Scholes added: “Some of the one-touch, two-touch play in the first-half was excellent."
And Owen Hargreaves added: “I thought Van de Beek was close to perfect.
“He is so unselfish, he can just fit in and play the right balls everywhere."