Ten of the World’s Best Defensemen in Soccer
There are some excellent defenders in soccer (association football), players capable of repelling the opposition in the air and on the ground. Here is a look at 10 of the best defenders in the world.
Diego Godin (Uruguay and Atletico Madrid)
The Uruguayan is an inspiration for Atletico and one of Diego Simone’s trusted lieutenants. Strong in the tackle and excellent in the air, Godin is a rugged defender who keeps things together under even the most intense pressure. Superb alongside Miranda in Atletico’s sensational 2013-14 title-winning season, Godin also weighs in with his fair share of goals. In May 2015, he was named as captain for Uruguay’s defense of the Copa América and was selected for the Copa América Centenario squad.
Thiago Silva (Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain)
The Brazilian has almost everything. Strong in the tackle and commanding in the air, the former AC Milan center back was outstanding in the 2010-11 season as the Rossoneri won their first Italian title since 2004. Silva is so comfortable on the ball, that he was even deployed in midfield by coach Massimiliano Allegri when injuries hit the squad. His performances prompted PSG to pay 46 million euros for the player in July 2012, and he quickly helped the club to their first Ligue 1 title since 1994.
Vincent Kompany (Belgium and Manchester City)
The Belgium defender was heralded as one of the most exciting defensive prospects in the game in his early years at Anderlecht. He has duly delivered on that promise and is now regarded as one of the best in the world, despite numerous injuries. The unflappable Manchester City defender is quick, strong, and dominant in the air. He has helped City to three Premier League titles, an FA Cup, and three League Cups. In the 2021 EFL Cup final, Kompany was named man of the match.
Sergio Ramos (Spain and Real Madrid)
The uncompromising Ramos has been a mainstay in the Real Madrid defense since his move from Sevilla in 2005 for 27 million euros—a record fee for a Spanish teenager. Ramos has excellent pace and is reliable in the tackle. His commitment often sees him getting in trouble with referees, and it is rare that he completes a season without getting at least one red card. He is captain of both Real Madrid and the Spain national team.
Mats Hummels (Germany and Borussia Dortmund)
A fine ball-playing central defender who was key to Germany’s 2014 World Cup success, Hummels netted a key goal against France in the quarterfinals as Germany went on to conquer all before them. But it is at the other end of the field where Hummels really shows his worth, producing the sort of key tackles and interceptions that make him the target of many of Europe’s top clubs.
Gerard Pique (Spain and Barcelona)
Many at Barcelona believe this product of the La Masia youth system will go on to captain the club. He was a key protagonist as Spain won the World Cup in South Africa. A composed defender who is strong in the air and the tackle, Pique is also adept at launching his team’s attacks. And he even claims to know all of Cristiano Ronaldo’s tricks from their time together at Manchester United.
Giorgio Chiellini (Italy and Juventus)
Fabio Cannavaro was famous for being an exponent of the classic style of rugged Italian defending, and in Chiellini, Italy has a player to carry the baton forward now that the great man has retired. The Juventus defender takes few prisoners, is strong in the air, and is firm in the tackle. Chiellini was the victim of Luis Suarez’s famous bite at the 2014 World Cup. In 2021, Chiellini was named to the 2021 UEFA Team of the Year.
Daniel Alves (Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain)
Alves dominates the right side on a regular basis. His pace, crossing ability, and free-kick prowess help him score at least four or five goals a season. Alves, who joined Paris Saint-Germain after a successful career with Sevilla, Barcelona, and Juventus, is the second-most decorated defender of all-time in European competitions with nine European medals.
Leonardo Bonucci (Italy and Juventus)
Bonucci captains both the Juventus and the Italy national team. From 2010- 2021, he was a key member of the defense, but he left to play for Milan where he captained the team, but he returned to Juventus in August 2021 in a trade. Bonucci can attack from the back with long passes and also has long passing range and excellent technique.
Jerome Boateng (Germany and Bayern Munich)
Boateng has represented Germany at UEFA Euro 2012 and 2016, and at the 2010 and 2014 World Cup, making key tackles in the 2014 final and winning 83 percent of his duels. He was named 2015-16 Footballer of the Year in Germany. Boateng is known as a tough tackler but also has the ability to read the game and has good passing skills.