These footballers are a rock at the back for their respective teams.

The defensive third of any team can be assumed to be the most important part of the field. Without strikers, teams may fail to score. Without wingers, the flanks may be left unoccupied and without proper attacking and defensive midfielders, the mobility in midfield may be affected. But, without centre-backs, it is really hard or next to impossible for any team to stop their opposition from finding the back of the net.

In this article, we’ll go through the top 10 centre-backs in the world in 2021:

10. Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain)

Frenchman Presnel Kimpembe has spent most of his career at Paris Saint-Germain. He made his first senior team appearance in 2014 against RC Lens. Currently, Kimpembe is a frequent starter for the French club.

The 26-year-old centre-back has made 78 ball recoveries this year across all competitions. Apart from this, he has also made 21 tackles, 52 clearances, 27 interceptions and 12 blocks. A negative aspect of his game might be considered to be his tendency for gifting fouls to the opposition (18). Else, he is well-equipped in both aerial and ground duels.

9. Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich)

Upamecano has been a rock in the Bayern Munich defence (Courtesy: Bavarian Football Works)

The 23-year-old Frenchman is currently a reliable member of Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich side. He joined the club in July from RB Leipzig. Along with Niklas Sule, he has guarded the Bavarian fortress exceptionally.

The centre-back has already made 19 appearances for Bayern this season in all competitions. He has made 185 ball recoveries apart from 39 tackles, 43 clearances, 27 interceptions and six blocks. It is tough to go past him, both aerially and on the ground. Upamecano also possesses the quality of sending accurate long balls into opposition territory.

8. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)

The 27-year-old Spanish defender is a regular and reliable candidate for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. He has been serving the blue half of Manchester for three years now.

The centre-back has already recovered the ball 80 times this season in all competitions. In addition he has also made 12 tackles. He has also made 29 clearances, 16 interceptions and three blocks. Infact, he is one of the few defenders who does not give away too many fouls.

7. Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)

Rudiger plays as the left centre-back in a back three at Chelsea (Courtesy: Sky Sports)

Antonio Rudiger is currently a mainstay in Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. He usually plays as a left centre-back in the back three of the London-based club. He is also a regular for the German national team.

Rudiger has made 20 appearances this season in all competitions. In the process, he has made 25 tackles, 40 clearances, 18 interceptions and four blocks. The centre-back has been strong aerially in the Premier League. However, regarding the ground duels, he has done better in the Champions League. Meanwhile, Chelsea will benefit if the 28-year-old gives away less fouls; he has already made 20 this season.

6. Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich)

Niklas Sule has made 18 appearances in all competitions this season. The centre-back has proved in the process that it is tough to go past him aerially. He has also turned heavy in the ground duels.

The 26-year-old has given away just four fouls in these 18 matches. Adding to this, he has made 30 clearances, 17 interceptions and six blocks. He has also made just 12 successful tackles in the 18 appearances.

5. Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan)

Plying his trade for Inter Milan, one of the strongest tacklers in this list is Milan Skriniar. The Slovak centre-back is a regular at the club and has been playing there since 2017.

In the 22 matches he has played this season, his performance has been commendable. Skriniar has completed 31 successful tackles this season. Apart from this he has made 53 clearances, 23 interceptions and 22 blocks. He has also recovered the ball 90 times. The Slovak can also send in accurate long balls aimed at his teammates.

4. Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)

De Ligt started off as an attacking midfielder (Courtesy: The Real Champs)

At 22, Matthijs de Ligt is the youngest player to feature in this list. The centre-back plies his trade for one of the most successful clubs of Italy, Juventus. Interestingly, the Dutchman was an attacking midfielder in his younger days.

He has played 18 matches this season in all competitions. In these appearances, he has committed 17 tackles and has given away 19 fouls. Apart from this, he has also made 62 clearances, 17 interceptions and eight blocks. He is a hefty customer both in aerial and ground duels.

3. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

The Brazilian centre-back is a pillar in the defensive third of Paris Saint-Germain. He has been there at the club since 2013 and has more than 200 appearances under his belt. He is also a regular at international level for Brazil.

Marquinhos has played 19 matches this season in all competitions. He has made 26 successful tackles, but has given away just four fouls. Apart from his tackling ability, the 27-year-old has also made 100 ball recoveries, 83 clearances, 11 interceptions and 17 blocks. He is also good at both aerial and ground duels and is a tough candidate to go past.  

2. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Van Dijk is one of the best centre-backs in world football (Courtesy: Sky Sports)

The Dutch centre-back has been a sign of reliability to both Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool fans. After an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury last season, he had to undergo a surgery, which resulted in him missing the rest of the matches for the season. However, Virgil van Dijk is back this season to safeguard and lead the Kop from the back. Infact, he has been one of the pillars in the Reds’ quest for a second title in three years.

He has appeared 19 times this season in all competitions. Defensively, it is faintly possible to go past him, as he thrives in both aerial and ground duels. He is also not much of a tackler, as he has committed just nine tackles so far. The 30-year-old has the reputation of circulating long balls accurately. He has made a total of 124 ball recoveries, 67 clearances, 20 interceptions and 11 blocks.

1. Ruben Dias (Manchester City)

The 24-year-old Portuguese defender is a regular at Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. He went on to become the 2020/21 Premier League Player of the Season. He is a commander who can lead the team from the back.

The strongly built Ruben Dias has made 20 appearances in the Champions League and the Premier League this season. In the process, he has made 30 tackles; proof of his rigidity. Apart from the tackles, he has made 97 ball recoveries, 37 clearances, 17 interceptions and 12 blocks. He is a good candidate in ground duels, but lacks in the aerial ones. The Portuguese also excels highly in passing the ball long.

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