1. Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool
“I want to become the best defender in the world,” Virgil van Dijk said a few years ago. At the time, he was still at Southampton. He said, “I’m not saying I am the best defender in the world right now, but I would like to get there one day.” Even back then, Van Dijk was more than just a fine player. He is 6ft 4in tall, strong, and quick — and he could use all of those attributes to impose himself on attacking players. But what made him stand out was his attitude: he had no fear of failure. He was always prepared to try things that other defenders would consider too difficult or risky.
Van Dijk made his senior international debut for the Netherlands in 2015 and has since earned over 50 caps. He represented them at UEFA Euro 2016 and also the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He joined Premier League side Southampton in September 2015 for a then-club-record fee of £13 million. After an impressive first season, he moved to Liverpool in January 2018 for £75 million. This transfer also surpassed the world-record transfer fee for a defender.
2. Sergio Ramos, Paris Saint-Germain
Sergio Ramos is the second-best football defender in the world. The Spaniard has been playing for Real Madrid for 12 years. The 36-year-old is not only a good player but also a great leader. He has captained his club and country with distinction. He is also one of the best players of his generation, and at the moment, he’s arguably the best defender in Europe. Ramos has had a remarkable career. He has played more than 600 games for Real Madrid and Spain and won 18 major trophies. In addition to winning three Champions Leagues, two European Championships, and a World Cup with Spain, he has also claimed La Liga four times and the Copa del Rey three times with his club.
Defensively, Ramos has strong tackle, is quick across the ground, and dominant in the air. He reads the game well, makes good decisions, and is excellent at timing his tackles. He may not be as good on the ball as some of his rivals, but he makes up for it with his leadership qualities. However, Ramos has shown throughout his career that he can play at both ends of the field.
3. Thiago Silva, Chelsea
Thiago Silva is a Brazilian footballer who plays as a central defender for the French club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazilian national team. He is known for his pace, technique, stamina, and also leadership. Thiago Silva joined Milan in December 2009 from Fluminense. In July 2012, soon after his contract with Milan expired, he signed an agreement with Paris Saint-Germain.
In June 2013, Thiago Silva was named captain of Paris Saint-Germain and helped the club win their first Ligue 1 title since 1994. He was also ranked the third-best player in the world by The Guardian in the same year. He is also known for his leadership and commanding presence in defense. Silva made his international debut for Brazil in 2008 against Wales. Furthermore, with PSG, Silva has won four Ligue 1 titles, three Coupe de la Ligue titles, three Coupe de France titles, and three Trophee des Champions titles.
4. Ruben Dias, Man City
Manchester City’s Ruben Dias is the fourth-best defender in the world. There is no doubt that he will be the best defender in the Premier League and Europe. However, his defensive stats are insane. In 2020, The Guardian’s list of the world’s 100 best footballers included his name as well as The Athletic’s list of the top 50 footballers in Europe. Dias, the Portuguese footballer, is also one of only four center-backs in the top 10 of this year’s Ballon d’Or rankings, alongside Virgil van Dijk, Sergio Ramos, and Gerard Pique. He made his international debut for Portugal in 2017 and has played 20 times since then – featuring in all but one of their Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Dias won his first major tournament with Portugal at the U17 level. He captained the side that included future senior teammates Joao Felix, Renato Sanches, and Diogo Dalot to victory in Bulgaria.
5. Raphael Varane, Manchester United
Finally, Raphael Varane is the 5th best defender on our list. He has been a key player for Real Madrid, winning La Liga and the Champions League. He was also a key player for France in their 2018 World Cup victory. Furthermore, his defensive statistics are impressive.
In 135 appearances for Real Madrid, he has conceded only 67 goals and kept 41 clean sheets (0 goals conceded). Also, for France, he has conceded only 12 goals in 37 appearances and kept 14 clean sheets.
Raphael Xavier Varane is a French professional footballer who plays as a center-back for the Spanish club Manchester United and also the France national team. A full international since 2013, Varane represented France at two World Cups and one European Championship, helping them finish as runners-up at Euro 2016.
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