Best Defenders 2019
Photo by Kevin Sousa on Flickr

Football is not just a game of offense. Winning football games requires a lot of defensive setups and a strong set of defensive players who are responsible for limiting as well as preventing the members of the opposing team to move closer to their goal and score. Due to this, most of the well-established professional football teams in the world maintain a strong set of defensive players to reinforce those that are tasked to execute the team’s winning offense. For 2019, the following players are considered as the 20 best defenders in the world.

Virgil Van Dijk

Virgil Van Dijk is a 28-year old Dutch professional footballer and defender. This 6’4’’ center-back is one of the best defenders in the world. He was born on July 9, 1991, in Breda, Netherlands. Van Dijk currently plays for Liverpool, an English Premier League club. He is also the captain of the Netherlands national team.

Van Dijk signed for Liverpool in January 2018, and his transfer to Southampton was believed to have cost Liverpool £75 million, an amount regarded at that time as a transfer fee world record for a defender. Aside from his expensive transfer fee, Van Dijk is known as a great defender in the pitch. Many players admire him for his leadership, aerial ability, and strength.

Virgil Van Dijk
Photo by Talksport

Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane is a 26-year old French professional footballer and defender. This 6’3’’ center-back is one of the best defenders in the world. He was born on April 25, 1993, in Lille, France. Varane currently plays for the Spanish club, Real Madrid, and a member of the France national team’s squad.

Varane joined Real Madrid in June 2011 and signed a 6-year contract, which involved a transfer fee believed to be around 10 million Euros. Besides, he made his international debut in March 2013, when he represented France in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Due to his impressive performance in the World Cup, Varane was nominated as the Best Young Player. 

Giorgio Chiellini

Giorgio Chiellini is a 36-year old Italian professional footballer who is usually deployed as a center-back. This 6’2’’ center-back who is considered as one of the best defenders in the world was born on August 14, 1984, in Pisa, Italy. Chiellini currently plays for the Serie, a club Juventus, and a member of the Italy national team’s squad.

Chiellini was signed by Juventus in 2004, which made the club spend about 6.5 million Euros. During his first season with Juventus, Chiellini was recalled by the club to play for the 2005-06 season. Juventus eventually paid another 4.3 million Euros for his entire contract. Chiellini also appeared with the Italian national team for two FIFA World Cups, two FIFA Confederations Cups, and three UEFA European Championships.

Giorgio Chiellini
Photo by Talksport

Samuel Umtiti

Samuel Umtiti is a 25-year old French professional footballer and defender. This 6’0’’ player who plays as a center-back is considered one of the best defenders in the world. He was born on November 14, 1993, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Umtiti currently plays for the Spanish club, Barcelona, and a member of the French national team.

Umtiti signed for Barcelona on June 30, 2016, which involved a fee amounting to 25 million Euros. During his first appearance for Barcelona on August 17, 2016, Umtiti helped his team to obtain a 3-0 win against Sevilla. Aside from his impressive performance in every game, Umtiti is known to play excellent defense and is always included in his team’s central defense campaigns. Finally, Umtiti became a great contributor to France’s championship victory in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Kalidou Koulibaly

Kalidou Koulibaly is a 28-year old Senegalese professional footballer and defender. This 6’1’’ center-back is considered as one of the best defenders in the world. He was born on June 20, 1991, in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, France. Koulibaly currently plays for the Serie, a club Napoli, and a member of the Senegal national team.

Koulibaly joined Serie A Club Napoli on July 2, 2014. He signed a five-year contract with Napoli, and for this, he received a fee amounting to £6.5 million. Koulibaly’s international career is quite remarkable as he is born in France to Senegalese parents, which means that he is eligible to play for France and Senegal in international competitions. He initially played for France in the under-20 national team. However, Koulibaly made his senior debut in 2015 with Senegal when the team took part in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and also in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Jan Vertonghen

Jan Vertonghen is a 32-year old Belgian professional footballer and defender. This 6’2’’ player who plays center-back or left-back is considered as one of the best defenders in the world. He was born on April 24, 1987, in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. Vertonghen currently plays for the Premier League club, Tottenham Hotspur, and a member of the Belgian national team.

Vertonghen joined Tottenham Hotspur in July 2012. He signed a contract worth 12 million Euros. Since then, he became one of the team’s potent defensive players. Vertonghen scores his first goal in the Premier League when Tottenham beat Manchester United in a rare 2-3 victory. Vertonghen’s international debut happened in 2007. He represented Belgium in the 2008 Olympics, where the squad finished fourth. Also, he is part of the Belgian national team that successfully reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2016, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where they finished third.

Jan Vertonghen
Photo by The Independent

Diego Godin

Diego Godin is a 33-year old Uruguayan professional footballer and defender. This 6’2’’ player plays as a central defender. He is one of the best defenders in the world. He was born on February 16, 1986, in Rosario, Uruguay. Godin currently plays for the Italian club, Inter Milan, and a member of the Uruguay national team.

Godin joined Inter Milan from Atletico Madrid in July 2019 and signed a three-year contract deal. He made his international debut in 2005. He was selected for the squad that participated in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa as well as for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is a 33-year old Spanish professional footballer and defender. This 6’0’’ player who plays right back and considered one of the best defenders in the world was born on March 30, 1986, in Camas, Spain.

Ramos currently plays as the captain of Real Madrid and the Spanish national team. Ramos is a potent defensive player and can also play as a center-back. He received a lot of praise for his goalscoring and passing prowess.

Ramos joined Real Madrid in 2005. He was purchased by Real Madrid for about 27 million Euros, a record for a Spanish defender at that time. While playing for Real Madrid, Ramos usually plays as the team’s center-back. However, he is allowed to play as a defensive midfielder in case of an emergency.

Sergio Ramos
Photo by Bleacher Report

Toby Alderweireld

Toby Alderweireld is a 30-year old Belgian professional footballer and defender. This 6’2’’ player who plays center-back or right-back is one of the best defenders in the world. He was born on March 2, 1989, in Antwerp, Belgium. Alderweireld currently plays for the Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and the Belgian national team.

Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire is a 26-year old English professional footballer and defender. This 6’4’’ player who plays center-back and is one of the best defenders in the world. He was born on March 5, 1993, in Sheffield, England. Maguire currently plays for the Premier League club, Manchester United, and a member of the English national team.

Harry Maguire
Photo by Talksport

Thiago Silva

Thiago Silva is a 35-year old Brazilian professional footballer and defender. This 6’0’’ player who plays as a central defender is one of the best defenders in the world. He was born on September 22, 1984, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Silva currently plays and captains Paris Saint-Germain. He is also a member of the Brazilian national team.

Silva was acquired by Paris Saint-Germain in the 2012-2013 season for a fee of about 42 million Euros, an amount that makes him the current most expensive defender in the history of football. Silva also represented his country in a few major international football events. He was an unused substitute by the Brazilian squad in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Silva played in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Thiago Silva
Photo by Bleacher Report

Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique is a 32-year old Spanish professional footballer and defender. This 6’4’’ player who played center-back and regarded as one of the best defenders in the world was born on February 2, 1987, in Barcelona, Spain. Pique currently plays for Barcelona and a member of the Catalonia national team.

Pique started his football career in Barcelona with the FC Barcelona youth teams. He decided to join Manchester United and debuted in 2004 as a center-back wearing the team’s uniform. Pique returned to Barcelona on May 2008 and signed a four-year contract with a buy-out clause of 5 million Euros. Piques represented Spain more than a hundred times. He made his international debut on February 11, 2009, played a key role in Spain’s 2010 FIFA World Cup victory and during the UEFA Euro 2012. 

Mats Hummels

Mats Hummels is a 30-year old German professional footballer and defender. This 6’4’’ player plays as a central defender and is one of the best defenders in the world. He was born on December 16, 1988, in Bergisch Gladbach, West Germany. Hummels currently plays for Borussia Dortmund and a member of the Germany national team.

Mats Hummels
Photo by Bleacher Report

Leonardo Bonucci

Leonardo Bonucci is a 32-year old Italian professional footballer and defender. This 6’3’’ player who played center-back and regarded as one of the best defenders in the world was born on May 1, 1987, in Viterbo, Italy. Bonucci currently plays for the Serie A club Juventus and a member of the Italy national team.

Jerome Boateng

Jerome Boateng is a 32-year old Belgian professional footballer and defender. This 6’4’’ player who plays various defensive positions and considered one of the best defenders in the world was born on September 3, 1988, in West Berlin, West Germany. Boateng currently plays for Bayern Munich and Germany national team.

Jerome Boateng
Photo by Talksport

 Cezar Azpilicueta

Cezar Azpilicueta is a 30-year old Spanish professional footballer and defender. This 5’10’’ player who plays as a central defender or full-back and considered as one of the best defenders in the world was born on August 28, 1989, in Pamplona, Spain. Azpilicueta currently plays for the Premier League club, Chelsea, and a member of the Spain national team.

Dani Alves

Dani Alves is a 36-year old Brazilian professional footballer and defender. This 5’8’’ player who plays right back and considered one of the best defenders in the world was born on May 6, 1983, in Juazeiro, Bahia, Brazil. Alves currently plays for Sao Paulo FC and serves as the captain of the Brazil national team.

Alves joined Sao Paulo FC on August 2019. A move that many consider as his lifelong dream since Alves is known as a Sao Paulo supporter. Also, Alves is regarded as the most decorated player in the history of football, as evidenced by the 40 trophies Alves has. Finally, he is considered as the second most decorated football defender of all time in the European competitions where he collected a total of nine European medals.

Jerome Boateng
Photo by 90Min

Marcelo

Marcelo Vieira da Silva Júnior is a 31-year old Brazilian professional footballer and defender. This 5’9’’ player who plays as a left-winger or sometimes a left-back and considered as one of the best defenders in the world was born on May 12, 1988, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The left back currently plays for the Spanish club Real Madrid and a member of the Brazil national team.

Jordi Alba

Jordi Alba is a 30-year old Spanish professional footballer and defender. This 5’7’’ player who plays left-back and considered as one of the best defenders in the world was born on March 21, 1989, in L’Hospitalet, Spain. Alba currently plays for Barcelona and a member of the Spain national team.

Jordi Alba
Photo by Sportskeeda

Pepe

Kepler Laveran de Lima Ferreira or simply Pepe is a 36-year old Portuguese professional footballer and defender. This 6’2’’ player who plays center-back and one of the best defenders in the world was born on February 26, 1983, in Maceió, Brazil. Pepe currently plays for FC Porto and a member of the Portugal national team.

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