Modern football demands more from its centre-backs than ever before.
Tactical masterminds like Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have transitioned the game to a point where centre-backs can no longer just be exceptional stoppers.
It’s no longer enough to be a Jamie Carragher – sorry Jamie – the elite defenders of this era need to be skilled in the art of crafting their teams’ attacks.
That means being comfortable on the ball, but it also means having the intelligence to play high up the pitch, as well as having the physical attributes to get back in time should the opposition forwards penetrate their defensive line.
Virgil van Dijk has set the bar in recent years, and he has widely been received as the best defender in the world throughout that spell; however, the towering Dutchman did have a rather serious ACL injury last season which means he has had some questions to answer when it comes to returning to the peak of his powers shown previous.
It was July 2021 that Van Dijk made his return, so nearly twelve months on, FourFourTwo set out to rank who are, in fact, the world’s greatest centre-backs currently.
Check out their top 10 below:
The 10 best centre-backs in the world
10. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)
9. Jules Kounde (Sevilla)
8. Eder Militao (Real Madrid)
7. Joel Matip (Liverpool)
6. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)
5. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
4. Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
3. David Alaba (Real Madrid)
2. Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
1. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
It was never really in doubt, was it?
Van Dijk has been imperious for the Reds since he joined, transforming them into a near unstoppable force at times.
The Dutchman even recently set a new Premier League record as having the longest undefeated home run of any player in history – standing at 64.
Dias deservedly takes the number two spot. The Portuguese international has turned many heads in his first two seasons on English soil, even winning the FWA Player of the Year in the 2020/2021 season.
City certainly wouldn’t be set to win the Premier League without Dias marshalling their backline, that’s for sure.
A jack of all trades it seems rather a surprise that Alaba makes the podium. The Austrian has been known to operate as a left-back and a central midfielder before moving into the heart of the defence as his career progressed.
His versatility and game intelligence across several positions is testament to the calibre of player the former Bayern Munich man is.
Chelsea’s Rudiger just misses out on the top three, although, he has enjoyed a sensational purple patch since Thomas Tuchel took charge.
The German was integral in the Blues raising the Champions League trophy last year and he’ll be hoping to continue in the same vein at Real Madrid when football renews next season.
Koulibaly takes fifth, the beast that has long been linked with a big money move to the Premier League.
Militao put in an exceptional display in the semi-final of the Champions League as Real Madrid booked their place in Paris – he takes eighth position.
Whereas top Chelsea target Kounde is in at nine. The Frenchman stands just 5ft 10 inches tall which is comparatively small against the rest of these giants, but don’t be fooled, Kounde is a class act.
And finally, we have PSG’s Marquinhos making up the final position. The Brazilian has blossomed since taking over captaincy duties in Thiago Silva’s stead and admittedly, we thought he might have been a banker for a higher placing.