A generation of outstanding centre backs are entering the twilight years of their careers. They include the likes of Carlos Puyol, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Lucio, Jamie Carragher, Alessandro Nesta and Ricardo Carvalho.

As sad as it is to see some of the games greats on their last legs, the emergence of some of fresh talent has got people excited for the future.

Here are five of the best up and coming centre-backs who look set to dominate for years to come:

Jefferey Bruma

The Hamburg youngster, who is on loan from Chelsea, became a Netherlands international at just 19 in 2010. Although his Blues career is yet to take flight, he has been hugely impressive at the Imtech Arena gathering invaluable experience as well as developing leadership skills amidst a young team.

Being versatile enough to play as a right back as well, Bruma combines power and pace as well as impressive technical ability coupled with a ruggedness that makes him an extremely difficult player to overcome for 90 minutes. He has been earmarked for greatness, and given the lack of quality central defenders at the disposal of the Oranjie, Bruma is a welcome exception who will no doubt develop into one of the world's best.

Phil Jones

The former Blackburn Rovers man is expected to reach great heights for England and Manchester United with his ability to play in the centre of defence as well as right back and as a defensive midfielder, making him a valued commodity. 

With powerful and stocky build, Jones is a force of nature at full flight and is an Three Lions regular in the making with his versatility and quality as a centre half marking him out as a supreme talent. At just 21, he has several years to transform him into one of the world's foremost central defenders.

Rafael Varane

The young Frenchman’s rise from obscurity this season has been extraordinary. During both El Clasico clashes in the Copa del Rey, Varane put in match winning defensive performances and kept Messi at bay with ease and to top it off he scored crucial goals in both legs. 

He is described as a player who is comfortable on both the tactical and technical level, and there can be no denying that given his impressive tactical awareness and reading of the game as well his gifted ability on the ball. His strength and pace for a man that is 6 foot 3 inches makes him an athletic defender that is equally equipped to deal with powerful strikers as well as speed demons. 

He has been called up by the French national team but has not received a cap yet however, at just 19 he has the world at his feet and he is sure to be a central figure in French football for many years to come.

Matija Nastasic

The Serbian international has enjoyed a breakthrough season with Manchester City as poor form from Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott as well as injuries to skipper Vincent Kompany allowed Nastasic to secure a regular spot in the heart of City's defence. 

The former Fiorentina prodigy moved to the Etihad Stadium for £12m in the summer of 2012, a huge sum considering he is still only 19. However, his quality is undoubted with his speed, excellent range of passing and poise on the ball giving him all the tools to mould himself into an elite defender.

Mamadou Sakho

The Paris Saint Germain man is without a doubt a star of the future. At just 23, he is lauded for his impressive leadership skills, which will certainly put him in the frame for the PSG and Les Bleus captaincy in the future.

His combination of raw power, expert tackling, tireless engine and leadership skills forms a player who is destined to join the upper echelons of centre backs. A French international, he is expected to form one of the world's most dominant central defensive partnerships in world football with Rafael Varane in the future.

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