Hello all! I hope that this holiday season is treating you all well! I want to wish you a belated Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year! With that being said, let’s dig into this next Top 5 list. As you can tell by the title, today will be the top 5 center-backs in the world. I want to start by saying that there were many players that could have made this list! It was hard to pick the best 5! If you think the order should have been different feel free to let me know in the comments. Let’s get this party started and let the debate begin! Here are my top 5 center-backs in the world!
#5- Diego Godin- Atletico Madrid
The 32 year old center-back from Uruguay just makes my list after fighting off a host of worthy opponents. Godin has been a rock at Atletico for many years now as he is entering his ninth season with the club. He is the leader of a back line that is of utmost importance under defensive manager, Diego Simeone. The mental side of footy is where Godin truly shines. He is always in the right place to make a clearance or block a shot but is also able to pick his moment and snatch away the ball from his opposition. At 32, he is on the wrong side of 30 for a professional player and the speed may start to fade if it hasn’t already. However, his mental and technical sharpness are among the best for center-backs. I believe this will keep him in the game for at least a few more seasons.
#4- Kalidou Koulibaly- Napoli
At 27 years of age, Senegalese center-back Kalidou Koulibaly is name people may not be as familiar with. He has burst onto the scene in the past few seasons with Napoli and has played very well this year. Koulibaly has astute awareness and is able to step in front of opposing shots often. He is also physically gifted, with the speed and strength to dispossess some of the best in the world. It was difficult for me to place him at #4, as he could have gone all the way up to second based on how well he has played this year. However, as a younger player for this list, I want to see a more complete body of work from Koulibaly before he climbs my list. Given his recent success, I believe he will.
#3- Giorgio Chiellini- Juventus
The Italian wall of a defender, Giorgio Chiellini takes the third spot on my list. At 34 years of age, Chiellini is the oldest of the center-backs to make my list and although he may have lost a step of pace, he has made up for it by heightening his defensive abilities. He is able to read plays before they even develop and is always there to intercept a crucial pass. His tackling abilities are fantastic and his marking is world class. As an out and out defender, Chiellini is the best in my opinion. However, the modern game asks center-backs to do more than just defend. They have to pick out the long pass, start the counter attack and also be a goal scoring threat on set pieces. Chiellini does these things well, but not as well as the players ahead of him on this list.
#2- Sergio Ramos- Real Madrid
Just missing out on the top spot is one of the most controversial players in all of football. Sergio Ramos is known for his fast and physical play style and it often lands him in the referee’s book. He has amassed over 170 cards through out his club career and also holds the national team record for most bookings. Ramos is deadly in the air, which makes him a constant goal scoring threat from set pieces. He is also very rapid for a defender and was once clocked at almost 20 miles an hour. Passing is another attribute that Ramos possesses. Growing up in the tiki-taka era of quick passing as a Spaniard, Ramos became very skilled with his feet and it shows. Recent poor form has seen him fail to claim the number one spot and personally I don’t see him reclaiming it.
#1- Virgil van Dijk- Liverpool
At the top of my list is the Dutch rock, Virgil van Dijk. Standing at 6’4″ and 200 pounds, the man is an absolute titan on the field. He is also incredibly quick, which makes him almost unfair to play against. This season has been his best as he is the leader of Liverpool’s defense and is dominating under Jurgen Klopp. The numbers speak for themselves. Through 19 league matches, Liverpool have conceded seven goals. Seven. That is spectacular and VVD is the reason. He is so well rounded which is why I have to put him at number one. His mental, physical, and technical abilities combined are tops when it comes to the other center-backs on this list. I truly see him as the best defender in the world and at only 27, van Dijk isn’t going away any time soon.