The Ten Best – Part 5 – The Ten Best Centre Backs In The World

By Ian John
February 11, 2022

We are working our way through the ten best players in each major position group in football (soccer) at the moment and this week we are turning our attention to the foundation of the back line, the centre of defence.

There are lots of type of players that can play central defence. Typically, you think of your big number 5 who is powerful, strong, physical, excellent in the air and who is, nowadays at least, comfortable with the ball at their feet.

However at times we have seen the position evolve to include players that play as a sweeper, covering behind the back four, to smaller, quicker more mobile centre backs who are often used as cover players or even man to man markers.

In the modern game, these more specialist positional players at centre back are somewhat out of vogue at the moment and it does seem to be the big, powerful player, allied to excellent ability with the ball at their feet, that tends to be the type of centre back most in demand.

This past week we have seen a number of the top centre backs in world football showcasing their talents in the Champions League and of course, you can bet on the teams that they play for with bet365 Sport across European and domestic games.

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But who are the players that make it into our current best in the world at centre half top ten? Let’s take a closer look at the list starting with the player that perhaps most obviously typifies the qualities needed to be a world class centre back today.

The Top Ten Centre Backs In World Football Right Now

  1. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

There’s no real argument about who is the best centre back in world football right now. When signing Virgil van Dijk, he turned Liverpool from pretenders into genuine contenders, title winners, and Champipons of Europe and the World. A massive calming influence on the back line for the Reds, an inspiration as a leader even without the captain’s armband and an imposing physical presence. Van Dijk is the centre back every team would love to have,

  1. Marquinhos (Paris St Germain)

Paris St Germain have a galaxy of expensive talent in their team, but it is perhaps their signing from Wolfsburg that allows them all to play. Marquinhos was a great centre back at Wolfsburg, he has developed into one of the very best of his generation at PSG, as not only is he a massively influential player in the back line for club and country, he also weighs in with vital goals frequently and sets the tempo for the team.

  1. Ruben Dias (Manchester City)

Any defender that wins the Footballer of the Year award is a top talent and that is what Ruben Dias is. City’s defence was one of their main problems before they signed the Portuguese star but since he come in, they have been so much tighter and much better organised. Position for places in the City back line is hot bit it is fair to say that Dias is the first name on the teamsheet for Pep Guardiola most weekends, such is his influence on the team.

  1. Raphael Varane (Manchester United)

The French World Cup Winner was Manchester United’s big defensive signing this summer and while injuries have not permitted the Red Devils to see the very best of what he has to offer, his performances for Real Madrid, especially over the last few years, not to mention for the French national team, have been exceptional and earmarked him as one of the very best in the world.

  1. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

The powerful Senegalese centre back has been linked with a move away from Napoli for several years now, but it has not yet transpired. Even so, when fit and at his best, Koulibaly is a powerful, strong, pacy and physical centre back who is the cornerstone of the Napoli defence and who would likely walk into the first team at any team in the world.

  1. Sergio Ramos (Paris St Germain)

The veteran Spaniard would likely be much higher in this chart if it wasn’t for the fact that he has missed almost every match this season with his new team through a niggling injury. There are signs that Ramos is slowing down nowadays, but in terms of physicality, presence, experience and the ability to the dastardly art of defending without seeming to care about what people think about him, there is nobody better in world football today.

  1. Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)

The young Dutch defender made a name for himself a few years ago when as a teenager he captained the Ajax side that made its way into the Champions League semifinals. A big money move to Juventus followed and while he hasn’t quite hit the stellar heights expected as yet, he still has plenty of time to mature into one of the best defenders in the world over the next few years.

  1. David Alaba (Real Madrid)

It’s hard to bracket Alaba as just a centre back as he can also play wide left, right or in midfield too, but he seems to be first choice at Real in this position and the Austrian former Bayern Munich player has matured into one of the most versatile and talented defenders of his era. He is also very dangerous from set plays with his wicked left foot. For someone who is not a position specialist, his talent is extraordinary.

  1. Jose Maria Giminez (Atletico Madrid)

There was once a time when Uruguay boasted two of the best centre backs in world football in Godin and Giminez. Godin’s age and pace is now counting against him but the younger Giminez is now the cornerstone of the fearsome Atletico Madrid defence and looks to be the leading light for the Uruguayan national team heading forward into the next few world cup tournaments and Copa America titles.

  1. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)

The second Manchester City player in the top ten just pips Thiago Silva into this last position. Laporte is younger, stronger, and has better pace. He is also a danger at set plays and is also a very good man marker. His form has fluctuated and he does perhaps suffer a little with the rotation used by City as he probably deserves to be ranked higher and likely would be if he played in more games for the English side.

Other players that were close to making this list included Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Leandro Bonucci (Juventus), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Dayot Upemecano (Bayern Munich, Milan Skrinijar (Inter), Stefan de Vrij (Lazio), Mats Hummels (Dortmund), Gerarrd Pique (Barcelona), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Diego Godin (Cagliari) and Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea).

More Top 10 Lists

Check out our other Top 10 Lists from Ian John:

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