Maldini, Terry, Vidic: Centre-backs with lowest goals conceded per game ratio in 21st century

An interesting graphic courtesy of PopFoot has shown the 20 centre-backs with the lowest average goals conceded per game ratio across their career.

In the world of modern football, many fans love nothing more than crunching the numbers to assess who really was/is the best of the best.

And amongst the vast array of statistical analysis available to those fans today, yet more data has emerged which may weigh into the ‘best centre-back’ debate.

Although, we will warn you, the number one spot might come as quite a surprise…

Defensive greats and early predictions

Over the years football has borne witness to many legendary defenders.

The modern era has Virgil van Dijk and Sergio Ramos. Before that we had John Terry and Nemanja Vidic, Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi, and the list only goes on from era to era.

It’s impossible to measure who ‘the best’ truly was, because comparing generations just doesn’t quantify accurately.

But if you were to try, goals conceded would almost certainly be towards the top of your list.

Which is where this rather intriguing graphic comes in.

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So, who would we expect to be topping this list of defenders with the lowest goals conceded ratio? Football is of course a team sport, so players who spent their career at a successful team rather than worked their way up you would expect to do well.

And on that basis, one would have to think Maldini and Terry are all but certainties to be right up there having spent their careers at AC Milan and Chelsea respectively.

Let’s check out the full ranking.

Centre-backs with the lowest goals conceded per game ratio (21st century)

20. Pepe – 797 (games) | 730 (conceded) | 0.92 (per game)
19. Jamie Carragher – 775 | 708 | 0.91
18. Jerome Boateng – 579 | 527 | 0.91
17. William Gallas – 529 | 466 | 0.88
16. Gerard Pique – 757 | 662 | 0.87
15. Rio Ferdinand – 621 | 541 | 0.87
14. Ruben Dias – 264 | 228 | 0.86
13. Presnel Kimpembe – 249 | 214 | 0.86
12. Carles Puyol – 692 | 589 | 0.85
11. Leonardo Bonucci – 646 | 547 | 0.85

10. Paolo Maldini – 427 | 360 | 0.84
9. Alessandro Nesta – 404 | 336 | 0.83
8. John Terry – 795 | 661 | 0.83
7. Giorgio Chiellini – 692 | 575 | 0.83
6. Alex – 404 | 330 | 0.82
5. Ricardo Carvalho – 611 | 496 | 0.81
4. Nemanja Vidic – 380 | 305 | 0.80
3. Marquinhos – 476 | 372 | 0.78
2. Thiago Silva – 617 | 479 | 0.78
1. Jose Maria Gimenez – 353 | 261 | 0.74

So, the Atletico effect is in full swing as the Uruguayan Gimenez shockingly tops the charts – the typically defensive approach employed by Simeone, combined with spending many a year alongside Diego Godin and ahead of Jan Oblak no doubt contributed to that.

Diego Simeone celebrates with Gimenez after Atletico won La Liga

Chelsea’s star Thiago Silva claims second spot after enjoying incredibly successful spells across Italy, France and England.

Whilst his compatriot and former Paris Saint-Germain teammate Marquinhos claims the final podium place.

Manchester United fans will be glad to see Vidic in fourth with an impressive average of 0.80 goals conceded per game.

The previously predicted Terry and Maldini can manage just eighth and tenth overall, although, more than half of Maldini’s career did come before the 21st century so his overall total could be considerably lower.

Van Dijk is a notable omission from the list, however his time with Southampton in the Premier League would obviously have negatively impacted his return.

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1 of 30

We’ll start easy…

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