10 best Centre-backs: Find out which central defenders came out on top in our list of the best on the planet.
Who is the world’s best center-back? We’re confident you’ve thought of something.
However, judging this aspect of the pitch is challenging. Some defenders may be better than they appear and are merely playing in a challenging system, while others may not be the finest players but are shielded by the shape of their team.
So, we’ve analyzed the greatest currently available – and we’ve come up with a ranking…
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Without a doubt, the best in the world. Since signing Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in 2018, Liverpool have been transformed into a monster, with the Dutchman’s dominant displays providing the firm foundation on which their entire system is constructed. Jurgen Klopp’s high line thrives because of his pace and intelligence, and his aerial skill saves them time and time again when opponents get ahead.
Their statistics with and without Van Dijk in the lineup demonstrate his impact. A man mountain for one of football’s finest modern sides.
Ruben Dias (Man City)
This season, the FWA Player of the Year, his first in English football, has been outstanding, providing the steel and protection that allows City’s entertainers to scamper forward in pursuit of goals.
Ruben Dias has seamlessly integrated himself into Manchester City’s backline. He’s composed on the ball, has superior positioning, and is the defensive leader that the Citizens have been missing since Vincent Kompany left the club.
It’s uncommon that a centre-backs is so universally adored, so fearsomely untouchable, and so clearly one of a team’s key performers. Dias is all of these things. He is the basis upon which City will build for many years to come.
David Alaba (Real Madrid)
David Alaba is not just one of the best centre-backs in the world, but also one of the best left-backs, a competent midfielder, a passable left-winger… and if you give him some gloves, he’d probably maintain a clean sheet as well.
Alaba has been heralded as one of the best free signings of the season after switching from Munich to Real Madrid last summer. The Austrian has been a constant in a Real backline that has won La Liga and reached the Champions League final. If Spain want to dominate Europe, Alaba must be at his best against Liverpool on May 28.
Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Chelsea tried everything they could to persuade Rudiger to extend his contract, which ends this summer, but their negotiating abilities were found insufficient.
Under the tutelage of his compatriot Thomas Tuchel, the Blues are resigned to losing a player who has matured into one of the most aggressive and composed players on the planet. Rudiger is a lightning-quick defender who reads the game beautifully and relentlessly carries the ball forward.
Real Madrid is undoubtedly his goal, where he will play alongside the next player on this list…
Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
Koulibaly began 2021 as captain of his country by winning Senegal’s first AFCON trophy, keeping a clean sheet for 120 minutes against Egypt’s Mo Salah in the final. He even had the minerals to go first in the shootout and detach a penalty.
He’s been just as calm and consistent for Napoli this season, who seemed like they might have a chance to win Serie A at times. Although the title defense eventually collapsed, Koulibaly’s reputation as one of the best defenders on the planet has only risen over the course of another incredible season.
Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)
Laporte is the quintessential Guardiola centre-back: elegant, at ease in possession, and not afraid to put his head where it hurts when the situation calls for it.
Manchester City’s defense has been a tight ship anytime Laporte, who joined them for £57 million from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018, has been at the helm. He’d fit in with any team in the world – except his own, where Pep preferred Stones – and is now Spain’s substitute for Sergio Ramos. He’ll have enormous shoes to fill, to be sure.
Joel Matip (Liverpool)
Since leaving Schalke on a free transfer, Joel Matip has won everything in the sport. While some may argue that sitting next to Virgil van Dijk is the easiest position in sport, they are just not paying attention.
Matip is one of the best ball-playing centre-backs in the game, possibly even better than Virgil van Dijk. His backward runs add another string to a stacked bow, and his overall leadership is priceless. He’s not your typical sidekick.
Eder Militao (Real Madrid)
In his early Real Madrid days, Eder Militao took a lot of heat for specific errors or teething problems. However, the fact that Brazilians are so prevalent is telling.
Real Madrid lost Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane at the same time, with neither being replaced by a strong defensive leader in the same mold. Although Los Blancos signed David Alaba, a different type of defender, Militao has been counted on as the defensive bite. This season, he’s developed into a more certain, confident player and has been a major member of a title-winning team.
Jules Kounde (Sevilla)
Jules Kounde has played right-back for his country, but he may be the most sought-after center defender on the planet. Chelsea are believed to be major supporter, and both Manchester teams are said to be interested in him.
Under pressure, the Frenchman is the epitome of a Rolls Royce: cool and composed, his strength belying his total abilities. He’s still so young, and he’ll only get better.
The star-studded Paris Saint-Germain team can’t be trusted to do anything – but Marquinhos is an exception.
Since taking up Thiago Silva’s armband, the Brazilian centre-back has been unstoppable. Marquinhos has been a rock for the newly crowned French champions, scoring more goals since taking over as captain, and his positioning, physicality, and passing skills are all outstanding.