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Ranked! The 10 best centre-backs in the world

Best centre-backs defenders world

10. Sergio Ramos (PSG)

Sergio Ramos

(Image credit: Getty)

Ramos won't win (m)any popularity awards and he's slipping down this list now, but it’s tough to dispute his position as one of the best defenders in world football... still. The Real Madrid captain was still his team’s heartbeat and always rises to the big occasion - when he's around.

His antics may be a turn-off – or hilarious, with that purposeful yellow card against Ajax a couple of years ago coming to mind – but his aerial prowess in both boxes and all-round fighting spirit can only be admired. Oh, and there's something special about a centre-half who takes his teams penalties, isn't there? At least when they're not fluffed Panenkas anyway.

4. Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)

Aymeric Laporte

A classy yet understated operator in arguably the Premier League's finest-ever team, Laporte is the typical Guardiola centre-back: stylish, comfortable in possession and not afraid to put his head where it hurts when he needs to.

Manchester City's defence has run a tight ship whenever Laporte has anchored it, who joined them from Athletic Bilbao for £57m in January 2018. He'd get into any team in the world, perhaps except his own since Pep prefers Stones - and now he's the Sergio Ramos replacement for Spain. He's got big shoes to fill, that's for sure. 

8. Milan Skriniar (Inter)

Milan Skriniar, Inter

(Image credit: Future)

The word on many lips over the past few years has been which European giant the precociously talented Milan Skriniar will end up at in years to come. The 25-year-old is still a key player for Antonio Conte's Inter for now, though, as he continues his development as one of Serie A's most formidable defenders.

The Slovakian centre-back has always been a fantastic athlete capable of keeping up with even the paciest strikers, but over the last couple of seasons he's become even better at reading the game. He's a member of one of the best defences in Italy – and possibly the only player plying his trade in a city he shares his name with?

7. David Alaba (Real Madrid)

Austria

(Image credit: Getty)

David Alaba is not only one of the best centre-backs in the world, he's one of the best left-backs, a good midfielder, a decent left-winger... hell, give him some gloves and he'd probably keep a clean sheet, too.

The Austrian's versatility has always been a plus point but he was just too good at left-back to be shunted elsewhere. After the emergence of Alphonso Davies, however - and a defensive crisis at Bayern - Alaba found a home in the middle, where he's now playing for Real Madrid. Ancelotti has even said it's his favourite place to deploy the 29-year-old. 

6. Jules Kounde

Jules Kounde

(Image credit: PA)

Last autumn, Sevilla proved themselves as one of the most reliable teams in Europe at the back, as all others around them floundered defensively. Jules Kounde was the rock at the heart of that backline - and he's only improved since then.

The Frenchman is still wanted by Chelsea's Thomas Tuchel to strengthen his side. It's testament to the 22-year-old's ability to read the game, intercept and tackle - and Kounde is only getting better, too.

5. Raphael Varane (Manchester United)

Raphael Varane

(Image credit: Getty)

After something of a slump in the season following the 2018 World Cup, where he was consistently superb as France took football's greatest prize, Varane has reaffirmed his status as one of the world's best in his position. A third La Liga title rounded off a great 2019/20 for him, before he led most of this season at Real's core in the absence of Ramos. 

The 27-year-old is the complete central defender and is now integral to Manchester United's chances of winning anything this season. He reads the game expertly and possesses the recovery speed to cover for team-mates’ mistakes, while he’s adept at stepping into midfield with the ball and setting his side on the attack. 

4. Harry Maguire (Manchester United)

Manchester United's Harry Maguire (left) and Liverpool's Roberto Firmino battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool.

(Image credit: PA)

A classy yet understated operator in arguably the Premier League's finest-ever team, Laporte is the typical Guardiola centre-back: stylish, comfortable in possession and not afraid to put his head where it hurts when he needs to.

Manchester City's defence has run a tight ship whenever Laporte has anchored it, who joined them from Athletic Bilbao for £57m in January 2018. He'd get into any team in the world, perhaps except his own when Pep preferred Stones - and now he's the Sergio Ramos replacement for Spain. He's got big shoes to fill, that's for sure. 

3. Marquinhos

Marquinhos

(Image credit: PA)

Thiago Silva was the heart of Paris Saint-Germain. A legend of the club that captained them in their incredible rise to a European superclub. Now, Marquinhos has taken the reigns.

As a defender, he might be very close to Silva's peak ability. He leads them - even in goals, as the last couple of Champions League campaigns have confirms - and he's dominant at the back, aerially, positionally and starting attacks for PSG. He's every bit as key to the club now as Thiago Silva was for years. 

2. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Virgil van Dijk

The Dutchman is yet to turn out at an international tournament, with the Netherlands failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and injury ruling him out of Euro 2020. But Champions League and Premier League medals will have gone some way to making up for that. 

He's taken giant strides since his move to Anfield (quite literally) and has become equally immense for his country – so much that the 28-year-old is often talked up as the first centre-back to win the Ballon d'Or since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. Van Dijk has everything you’d want in a modern-day centre-back: strength, speed, aerial prowess, leadership qualities and ability on the ball. Five good reasons why he was the world's best at his unstoppable peak. 

1. Ruben Dias

Ruben Dias

(Image credit: PA)

Who else could it possibly be after last season?

Ruben Dias has slotted into Manchester City's backline like he was born to play there. He's calm on the ball, positionally supreme and he's the leader that the Citizens have missed in defence ever since Vincent Kompany kissed the club goodbye. 

It's rare that a centre-back is so unanimously popular, so formidably unbeatable and so obviously one of the standout stars of the season. Dias is all three. He's the foundation that City will build upon for years and years to come. 

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