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The 10 Best Defenders In The World Right Now, Ranked​

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The 10 Best Defenders In The World Right Now, Ranked​

Legendary Liverpool manager famously once said, “form is temporary but class is permanent” and the men on the list below are definitely world-class. But they are also the defenders across the globe’s best leagues that have shown the best form in the 2021/22 season.

Here we pick our top 10 defenders in the world right now. We've used a number of stats from the start of the season to quantify our rankings, as well as a player's overall contribution to the game in recent times. So who makes it into our top 10?

All stats come from WhoScored.com and are correct as of the publish date.

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10) Raphael Varane, Manchester United/France

2021/22 Season Stats:

  • 4 clearances per game
  • 0.7 interceptions per game
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Raphael Varane (PA)
Raphael Varane (PA)

9) Jules Kounde, Sevilla/France

2021/22 Season Stats:

  • 2.9 clearances per game
  • 1 interception per game
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At the heart of the stingiest defence in La Liga – seven goals against and three clean sheets in 11 games – is the exciting young Frenchman Jules Kounde. The centre-back who turns 23 in November, made his international debut at Euro 21 thanks to an impressive second season at Sevilla and has continued his form into Spain’s domestic competition.

Jules Kounde
Jules Kounde

8) Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool/The Netherlands

2021/22 Season Stats:

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  • 3.5 clearances per game
  • 0.9 interceptions per game

"I'm still on the way," says Virgil van Dijk, who missed all but five games of Liverpool’s title defence thanks to Jordan Pickford’s horror tackle devastated his right knee. "I'm my own biggest critic and I know exactly when I can do better, and when things are going well too. How I see it is to just improve as much as I can, and I'm fairly confident in the way I see things.” Despite Jurgen Klopp talking about managing the Dutchman’s workload ahead of the season, van Dijk has played every minute of the Reds’ 10 Premier League games, matched only by Mo Salah.

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk

7) Milan Skriniar, Inter Milan/Slovakia

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2021/22 Season Stats:

  • 3.3 clearances per game
  • 0.5 interceptions per game

In Antonio Conte’s first week at Spurs, rumours were already circulating about his desire to bring his former Inter Milan centre-back Milan Skriniar to North London in the January transfer window to lead his trademark three-man backline. It’s not the first time the 6ft 2in Slovakian has been linked with a move to Tottenham – Jose Mourinho offered £30 million for the 26-year-old in the summer of 2020 – but the natural centre-back is also reportedly a New Year target for Manchester United.

Milan Skriniar (PA)
Milan Skriniar (PA)

6) Joao Cancelo, Manchester City/Portugal

2021/22 Season Stats:

  • 0.9 clearances per game
  • 2.4 interceptions per game

Despite a position switch, Joao Cancelo has been one of Manchester City’s best players so far in 2021 – leading the team in tackles and interceptions. A lock at (right-footed) left-back after spending most of last season at full-back on the other flank, the Portuguese has started the 2021 term on fire to put the disappointment of missing out on Euro 21 behind him. He currently ranks fourth among Premier League defenders for interceptions for Pep Guardiola’s second-placed City.

Joao Cancelo (PA)
Joao Cancelo (PA)

5) Antonio Rudiger, Chelsea/Germany

2021/22 Season Stats:

  • 2 clearances per game
  • 0.8 interceptions per game

Thomas Tuchel may have been fired from his last two jobs by Borussia Dortmund and PSG respectively, but at Chelsea, he’s proving to be a perfect fit and has worked wonders with many of the incumbent squad. Antonio Rudiger has been the pick of a Blues defence that’s conceded just four goals in 11 matches to lead them to the top of the Premier League (and just one in four Champions League clashes) and the German centre-back could have easily been joined on this list by the rejuvenated Thiago Silva or up-and-comer Trevoh Chalobah, who’ve also impressed.

Antonio Rudiger (PA)
Antonio Rudiger (PA)

4) Marquinhos, PSG/Brazil

2021/22 Season Stats:

  • 4.2 clearances per game
  • 0.7 interceptions per game

While the addition of the likes of Hakimi, Ramos, Wijnaldum, Donnarumma and Messi to a squad already containing Mbappé, Verratti, Neymar and Di Maria may have given Mauricio Pocchetino the most talented group of players in Europe, the defensive standout this season has been his captain Marquinhos. Joint third in Ligue 1 in blocks and seventh in clearances, the calming presence of the 27-year-old Brazilian at the back has helped PSG extend a 10-point lead over second-placed Lens.

Marquinhos (PA)
Marquinhos (PA)

3) Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli/Senegal

2021/22 Season Stats:

  • 2.2 clearances per game
  • 0.7 interceptions per game

Unbeaten and top of Serie A after 11 matches, Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli side have been on an impressive run to begin the new season. The organiser of a defensive unit that’s only conceded three goals so far, Kalidou Koulibaly, has only enhanced the reputation that’s seen him linked with Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea in the past 12 months. Spalletti describes the 30-year-old Senegalese player “an exceptional leader”.

Kalidou Koulibaly (PA)
Kalidou Koulibaly (PA)

2) Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City/Spain

2021/22 Season Stats:

  • 2.1 clearances per game
  • 0.4 interceptions per game

While some players might bemoan a summer tournament and the lack of rest and recovery time, Aymeric Laporte couldn’t be happier. While he found himself out of the Manchester City line-up in 2020, a switch of international allegiance from France to Spain through his great-grandparents saw him picked for Euro 21. Regular football was just what the doctor ordered and he’s hit the ground running in the Premier League, displacing John Stones alongside Ruben Dias.

Aymeric Laporte (PA)
Aymeric Laporte (PA)

1) Ruben Dias, Manchester City/Portugal

2021/22 Season Stats:

  • 2.2 clearances per game
  • 0.5 interceptions per game

Ruben Dias cleaned up in awards season 2020/21 scooping the Football Writers’ Association and Premier League Player of the Season awards after his storming first year at Manchester City. He was rewarded with being added to the City roll of captains before the new season and has continued to be a striker’s worst nightmare in the Sky Blues’ first 11 Premier League matches.

Ruben Dias (PA)
Ruben Dias (PA)

Featured Image Credit: PA Images

Topics: Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Virgil Van Dijk

Colin Hubbuck
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