Welcome to World Class: The Shortlist

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At the heart of any great soccer team is often a top center back.

A player who is capable of providing structure, form and solidity to the rest of the team, as well as a calming and authoritative calm.

But to be defined as world-class, such a player really needs to be on top. Often times, those individuals are the difference between success and second best, while a defense without a player of this caliber will often lack leadership, cohesion and quality.

During the next month, 90min is running a series to find the five world-class players in every position in today’s game, and with the short list of goalkeepers already revealed, it’s time to focus on the center-backs, all based on a scoring metric on which you can read everything by clicking this link.

What you will see here is a short list of 15 of the best central defenders in the world and why they have been included in the race to be said ‘Welcome to the world class’.

David Alaba
David Alaba already dominates the roles of left back and midfield | Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

Club: Bayern Munich
Country: Austria

David Alaba has not always been a center back and has easily been among the best left-backs and central midfielders in the world at various points in his brilliant career.

But his move to the center of Bayern Munich’s defense has been nothing short of perfect, and his abilities to dominate other positions have served to make him a better center-back.

Ruben Dias
Man City sees a lot of long-term potential in Ruben Dias | Visionhaus / Getty Images

Club: Manchester City
Country: Portugal

Manchester City saw enough in Ruben Dias to strike a deal worth more than £ 60 million for the rising star from Portugal, who had been educated at Benfica for 12 years.

He only turned 23 in 2020 and has enormous long-term potential, but he is already considered a modern and complete center-back that makes him a perfect complement to Pep Guardiola’s model.

Matthijs de Ligt
Matthijs de Ligt still has most of his career ahead of him | Chris Ricco / Getty Images

Club: Juventus
Country Netherlands

Matthijs de Ligt made history in 2018 when he became the first defender to win the Golden Boy award. He first played senior international soccer at 17 and captained Ajax to the semi-finals of the Champions League at 19.

Still just 21 years old, even now, he’s gone from strength to strength at Juventus and still has a decade or more at the top to come.

Stefan de Vrij
Stefan de Vrij has developed throughout his time in Serie A | Jonathan Moscrop / Getty Images

Club: Inter
Country Netherlands

Stefan de Vrij made an international name as part of the Dutch team that finished third in the 2014 World Cup. He secured a move to Lazio shortly after and has spent his time in Italy, which saw him move to Inter in 2018, continue developing and taking your game to new heights.

His ability to pass the ball from behind is one of his best traits.

Jose Maria Gimenez
José Giménez has been working at Atlético de Madrid since 2013 | Soccrates / Getty Images Images

Club: Atlético de Madrid
Country: Uruguay

Atlético de Madrid manager Diego Simeone has been polishing and shaping José Giménez since the age of 18, when the raw defender was removed from his native Uruguay.

He is known for his tough and uncompromising style of play, a trait that undoubtedly developed after working with Simeone for so long. He also learned from Diego Godin for years, who for years was one of the best in the world.

Hummels mats
Mats Hummels rejoined Borussia Dortmund in 2019 | DeFodi Images / Getty Images

Club: Borussia Dortmund
Country: Germany

Mats Hummels, back in his second spell at Borussia Dortmund after two spells at Bayern Munich in an illustrious career that has spanned a decade at the highest level, is elegance personified at the rear.

He has been compared to German legend Franz Beckenbauer more than once over the years and has won multiple league titles, as well as the 2014 World Cup.

Kalidou koulibaly
Kalidou Koulibaly was a stranger when he arrived at Naples | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce / Getty Images

Club: Naples
Country: Senegal

Napoli paid next to nothing by modern elite standards for a 23-year-old Kalidou Koulibaly in 2014 and has seen the Senegal international blossom into a mountain-like central defender of global reputation.

He has been wanted for years by the biggest clubs in Europe, but Napoli has always resisted selling because they value him so much.

Aymeric laporte
Man City missed Aymeric Laporte when he got injured | Visionhaus / Getty Images

Club: Manchester City
Country France

Aymeric Laporte’s long-term injury in the first half of 2019/20 was largely responsible for deflecting Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes, proving in his absence how important he has become for one of the best. clubs of the world.

Interestingly, he is still awaiting his first senior cap with France as he was injured on the cusp of finally debuting in 2019.

harry maguire
Harry Maguire was quickly named captain of Manchester United | Chloe Knott – Danehouse / Getty Images

Club: Manchester United
Country: England

Harry Maguire is officially the most expensive defender in history as a result of his £ 80 million transfer to Manchester United in 2019.

The England center-back was quickly named club captain at Old Trafford and indeed enjoyed a perfectly solid debut season, despite immense pressure and attention from one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Gerard Piqué
Gerard Piqué has won everything with Barcelona and Spain | Quality Sports Images / Getty Images

Club: Barcelona
Country: Spain (retired)

Gerard Piqué is one of the few players in the history of the Champions League who has won the competition in consecutive seasons with different clubs: Manchester United and Barcelona.

He has enjoyed tremendous success since returning to the Camp Nou in 2008 and has conquered Spain, Europe and the world with both the club and the country.

Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos is still a winner in series driven | Quality Sports Images / Getty Images

Club: Real Madrid
Country Spain

Sergio Ramos is the complete package when it comes to elite center-backs. Winner of four Champions League titles, his competitive advantage is unsurpassed and he will do whatever it takes to win.

He also scores goals at an astonishing rate for a defender, over 125 for the club and the country, and is in a race to become the first male player to reach 200 senior internationals.

Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva still has a lot to offer at the highest level | Marc Atkins / Getty Images

Club: Chelsea
Brazil country

Even at 36, Thiago Silva is showing that he is far from finishing at the highest level.

The veteran Brazilian won eight titles in 11 seasons in Europe with AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain and has now already helped to eliminate Chelsea’s great defensive weakness since he set his sights on further successes at Stamford Bridge.

Dayot Upamecano
Dayot Upamecano is being watched by several elite clubs | DeFodi Images / Getty Images

Club: RB Leipzig
Country France

Dayot Upamecano is the young center-back everyone is staring at in 2020, and the 22-year-old is one of the Red Bull club model’s biggest success stories.

It was discovered for the first time by Salzburg at the age of 18 and then went on to Leipzig a year later; now, he is expected to choose elite clubs in the summer of 2021 when he moves in.

Virgil Van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk has transformed Liverpool since 2018 | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images

Club: Liverpool
Country Netherlands

Virgil van Dijk completely changed Liverpool’s fortunes when he joined them from Southampton in January 2018, proving he was worth every penny of the world record £ 75 million fee.

In five months he played the final of the Champions League, in 18 months he had won it and two and a half years after his career at Anfield he was champion of the Premier League.

Raphael varane
Raphael Varane is only 27 years old | DeFodi Images / Getty Images

Club: Real Madrid
Country France

Raphael Varane has been there and done it all, winning the Champions League four times, three La Liga titles and the World Cup; In 2020 he turned 27.

The Frenchman was the only player on the planet in 2018 to win both of them the Champions League and the World Cup that year, which should have made him a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or.

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