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Top 20 best defenders in the world 2023

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You know how conceding many goals would be detrimental to your team’s success, right? Well, that’s where quality defenders come in.

 

Over the past decades, we’ve watched some of the best defenders exert command in their backline, dictating for the rest of the players to score decisive goals.

 

In our pubs, match centres, and homes, we’ve sat in front of our TV screens (although some are documentaries) to watch iconic names like Alessandro Nesta, Franz Beckenbauer, and Bobby Moore dominate the game.

 

But who are the best legs in this position? From Ruben Dias, Sergio Ramos, and Virgil van Dijk to the next gens like Alphonso Davies, Interesting Football takes a look at the best defenders in the world right now.

 

20. Jules Koundé

 

Jules Koundé has formed a strong defensive wall at FC Barcelona since his arrival in the summer. The Frenchman has helped the team concede the least goals.

 

Apart from Koundé’s defensive sparks, he is pretty good on the offensive side. This season, he has played over 20 games and provided two assists.

He has significantly helped reshape Barcelona’s defence since he arrived from Sevilla.

 

19. Kieran Trippier

Kieran Trippier

Kieran Trippier is in the form of his life at Newcastle United. The English right-back has become an influential figure in the defence of the Magpies since he arrived from Atletico Madrid.

 

Last season, the defensive partnership between Sven Botman, Fabian Schar, Dan Burn, and Trippier helped the club record the highest clean sheets.

Read: Top 10 best defenders in the Premier League  

 

18. Cristian Romero

 

Cristian Romero has been a joy to watch at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium since his arrival in 2022. The 24-year-old centre-back also played a significant role in helping Argentina lift the World Cup trophy in 2022.

 

Although he hasn’t been in his best form since his return from the World Cup, he remains a key player at the club.

 

17. Raphael Varane

 

Raphael Varane has made an immediate impact at Manchester United as the Frenchman’s arrival has brought immense relief to the defence.

He spent ten seasons with Real Madrid, winning 18 trophies, including four Champions League titles, four FIFA Club World Cups, three La Liga titles, etc.

 

He has brought stability to the back four and has shown leadership qualities in the team.

This season, he has made over 32 appearances for Manchester United and played a key role in the team’s success at the Carabao Cup.

Read: Top 20 Best Strikers in the World

16. Lisandro Martinez

 

Lisandro Martinez is one of the few players who have played almost every game at Manchester United. The Argentine has been an impactful signing at Old Trafford.

 

He was one of the best players in the Argentine Men’s National team that won the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The centre-back is arguably one the most popular players in Old Trafford due to his outstanding contributions to the defence. He is highly skilled and controls more ball possession.

 

15. Trent Alexander-Arnold

 

Trent Alexander-Arnold has been one of the most outstanding players at Liverpool since he broke into the first team in 2016. The English defender has played a pivotal role in Jurgen Klopp’s squad.

 

He has successfully established himself as one of the world’s best full-backs.

But this season, his defensive and offensive attributes have attracted criticism. However, his role in the full-back position has been helpful to the team, even though some would prefer he plays in the midfield.

 

14. Virgil van Dijk

 

Van Dijk and Liverpool have endured a troubled season. The Dutchman has featured several times and has played more minutes in all competitions.

 

His underwhelming form has undoubtedly changed the dynamics in the defence for the Reds. However, the 31-year-old is one of the players consistently producing their best performance.

 

13. Alessandro Bastoni

 

Alessandro Bastoni is one of the best centre-backs and a key member of Inter Milan squad in the Italian Serie A. The 23-year has proven to be a reliable player for the Nerazzurri in the current campaign.

 

The Italian is a player on the rise. He is highly talented and continues to gain more experience.

This season, he has made over 32 appearances for Inter Milan. His performance has drawn interest from top European clubs.

Read: The best box to box midfielders in the world

12. Alphonso Davies

Alphonso Davies

Canadian soccer star Alphonso Davies can deliver as a winger and in his left-back position. The 22-year olds five-star performance against Barcelona in the 2020 Champions League remains one of the highest points of his career.

 

He is considered one of the best defenders in football due to his creativity, dribbling, and pace.

Since 2019, he has made a big impact at Bayern Munich and transformed into one of the most valuable players in Europe.

 

11. Thiago Silva

Thiago Silva has been a key player at Chelsea since he arrived from Paris Saint-Germain. The Brazilian made an immediate impact as he helped the club lift the Champions League, Club World Cup, and Super Cup.

 

This season, injuries prevented him from playing consistently. However, his time on the pitch was invaluable for the Blues.

 

10. Theo Hernandez

 

Theo Hernandez is one of the most decent defenders in Serie A. The Frenchman is a key player at Milan.

 

He won the Serie A with Milan and played a significant role in the team. He is known for his confidence, pace, and physical presence, which makes it difficult for opponents to thrive in his position.

 

Theo Hernandez has been playing an advanced role at AC Milan. He is sometimes allowed to play more offensively and has been largely successful.

Read: Best Goalkeepers in the world

9. Dayot Upamecano

 

Dayot Upamecano plays as a centre-back for Bayern Munich. The Frenchman was one of the best talents at RB Leipzig before the Bavarians broke some records to secure his services in 2021.

 

He has shown to be one of the best defenders in the world. He has delivered standout performances for the Bavarians, especially in the biggest games.

 

One of the games that brought out his brilliance was the Champions League round of 16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain, where the Frenchman was arguably one of the decisive factors in the defence of the German club.

 

8. João Cancelo

 

“Excellent” would be the proper term to describe João Cancelo. The Portuguese plays as a full-back or wing-back and is currently one of the best defenders in the world.

Read: Top 20 best wingers in the world

He came through the Benfica youth system, successfully broke into the first team, and eventually sealed the move to Manchester City, where he was the undisputed player.

 

He made the FIFA FIFPRO World 11 in 2022 due to his impact at Manchester City.

 

This season, a loss of form did challenge his place in the starting lineup at Manchester City. However, the eventual switch to Bayern Munich appears to have rejuvenated his form.

 

7. Kim Min-Jae

 

Napoli star Kim Min-Jae is one of the greatest revelations in the Serie A this season. The South Korean centre back joined the Partenopei from Fenerbahçe in 2022.

 

Since he arrived at the club, he has been outstanding for Napoli as the club aims to lift the league title after 30 years. The Centre-back is known for his aggressive defending and intelligent decision-making in the final third.

 

This season, Kim Min-Jae has played almost every game in the Serie A and the Champions League, where his performance has helped the club establish a sixteen-point lead at the top of the table.

 

6. Marquinhos

 

Marquinhos is one of the long-standing players at Paris Saint-Germain. The Brazilian centre-back has been part of the team since 2013.

Marquinhos is known for putting out quality displays, and his ability to play right-back or a defensive midfielder makes him rank among the best defenders in world football.

 

5. Antonio Rüdiger

 

Antonio Rüdiger arrived at Real Madrid in 2022 and quickly established himself as one of the most preferred options in the defence. The German footballer has consistently played a key role in the defence for Los Blancos.

 

So far, he has won the Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in his first season at the Bernabéu and is currently helping the team in the Champions League as he looks set to lift the trophy with two different clubs.

 

This season, Antonio Rüdiger has slotted seamlessly into Carlo Ancelotti’s plans at Real Madrid.

 

4. Ruben Dias

 

Ruben Dias has evolved into one of the best defenders in the English Premier League. The Portuguese instantly impacted Manchester City, winning the Premier League Player of the Season in his first season.

 

Fast forward to 2023, Ruben Dias is ranked among the best defenders in the world due to his defensive prowess and consistency.

 

This season, he is the only player with the most appearances for Manchester City. He has been a decisive factor in the defence for the Citizens as Pep Guardiola’s men press forward for more titles.

Read: Top 20 Best Midfielders in the world

3. Achraf Hakimi

 

Achraf Hakimi has been on the rise for quite a while. The right-back showed his class at the last World Cup in Qatar, where he played a pivotal role in the defence for the Moroccan Men’s National Football team as they finished fourth in the tournament.

 

He has also been a consistent figure at Paris Saint-Germain since he arrived in 2021. He is a unique player who could play in either left back, right, or as a winger.

 

Hakimi is a modern fullback whose capability goes beyond the defensive side but effectively in the offensive role.

 

2. Eder Militão

 

Éder Militão is one of the most consistent players in Real Madrid. The Brazilian has established himself as a fantastic and reliable player in the defence for Los Blancos, forming a working partnership with Antonio Rüdiger.

 

At times, he has turned out to be the match-winner for the Los Blancos as he scores particularly with his head which resembles that of club legend Sergio Ramos.

Read: Top 10 Best right backs in the World

1. David Alaba

David Alaba 1

David Alaba has consistently shown decency and fewer mistakes, and leadership qualities. The Austrian defender commanded a significant role at Bayern Munich, where he helped the club to several Bundesliga titles and the Champions League.

 

Upon his arrival at Real Madrid, he established the same level and quickly cemented his position in the first team. He also helped the club to lift the Champions League title in his first season.

 

Alaba’s flawlessness makes him among the most elite players in world football today. He could play as a centre-back or left-back. He is also known for his outstanding set pieces.

I'm a sports enthusiast, love writing about football. I have been writing about top teams in Europe, the Premier League and La Liga.

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