”Attack wins you games, but defence wins you tournaments” is a very famous saying among football fans, players and managers. All the greatest sides ever were built on the basis of rock-solid defences. And to be a good defender you need power, tactical intelligence, technical capability, organisational skills and a brave-heart to take on anyone. In this article, we will have a look at some of the best centre backs in the world.
Considering the performances over the past couple of seasons, here are the top 15 best centre backs in the world –
15. Matthijs de Ligt
After a stellar 18-19 campaign, Matthijs de Ligt became one of the hottest commodities in the football world as clubs like Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus jostled for the then Ajax captain’s signature.
As the only defender to ever win the Golden Boy award, de Ligt has proven to be one the future’s shiniest stars. He joined the Italian side Juventus in 2019 and helped his team win the Serie A in his first season with his outstanding performances
14. Harry Maguire
The Sheffield born centre-back is a force to be reckoned with in either box and is comfortable playing out from the back. Maguire basically has a no-nonsense style of defending. With a height of 6ft 4in and a great physique, he wins the aerial balls in most cases. His interception, tackling and marking skills are also very good.
The trouble is with an £80m price tag comes a lot of pressure and to make it to the top of this list he really needs to lead Man United back to the glory days, which is something that looks a long way off at the moment.
13. Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Chiellini is all about power, aggression and tenacity with his ball-winning ability – probably – second to none. It’s hardly a surprise that Juventus have dominated Italian football over the last decade with both Chiellini and Bonucci at the back for most of it but the biggest compliment we can pay Chiellini is that he’s a centre-back who could have played in any era and still he would be one of the very best.
12. Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan)
While he may not be the tallest centre-back around, he makes up for his shortcomings in the air with some solid tackling on the ground. Skriniar is also an excellent passer of the ball and in today’s game where more and more teams seem to be adopting an expansive style of play, it is then no surprise that Skriniar is one of the most sought-after centre-backs in the world.
11. Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
Bonucci actually started out in football as a midfielder before slotting into defence, which is perhaps why his calmness under pressure when in possession is up there with the best in the business. Bonucci is known for his technique, passing range, and his ability to launch an attack from the back with long passes.
He is a tall and strong defender, with a good positional sense, as well as good anticipation, solid tackling, and an ability to read the game. He marks opponents really well, he also excels in the air and frequently poses a threat from set-pieces.
10. Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich)
Despite moving into his early 30’s Jerome Boateng is still one of the best centre-backs in the world right now. Very few players will come closing to replicating his success on the pitch. A trophy cabinet that contains 1 World Cup, 2 Champions League trophies, 8 Bundesliga titles, 4 German Super Cups, 1 FA Cup and more.
Physically strong and composed in possession, he has garnered a reputation as a tough-tackling defender, with good passing and an ability to read the game, and is considered to be one of the world’s best at his position.
9. Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
The Barcelona defender has been an integral part of the Catalan side for over a decade now. The ball-playing centre back is a giant in the world of defending and could go on to surpass his mentor Carles Puyol as the most decorated defender in the club’s history.
A product of Barça’s La Masia, Piqué initially left the club for Manchester United in 2004. He remained there for four years, before returning to Barça under Pep Guardiola’s leadership, helping the club win trebles in 2008–09 and 2014–15. He played an integral role in the Spain team that won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012.