The 20 Best Central Defender in the World 2024

Best Central Defender in the World 2024: Ranking the best central defenders in the world today isn’t simple, but we’ll try our best to be accurate. A great center-back needs both tactical and technical skills, focus, personality, and leadership.


Best Players In The World By Position


Building a strong team starts with a solid defense. To achieve that, having the best players in the central defender position is crucial.

How do we rank the best central defenders in the world?

To create a solid ranking, we’ll consider three factors, each with varying importance in the overall result.

  • Defensive tactics: 40%.
  • Progression in the current season: 30%.
  • Leadership: 30%.

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Who is the Best Central Defender in the World?
UrduSport Survey

Best Central Defender in the World 2024

Here are the Best Central Defender in the World in 2024

1. Rúben Dias

  • Country: Portugal
  • Age: 26
  • Club: Manchester City

Rúben Dias, the Portuguese center-back for Manchester City, clinches the top spot in our rankings due to his exceptional performance in the 2022-2023 season. Playing a crucial role in strengthening Manchester City’s defense, he not only secured the Premier League and FA Cup but also won the UEFA Champions League. Dias garnered individual accolades, including FWA Footballer of the Year and UEFA Champions League Defender of the Season.

Starting his career in Benfica’s youth academy, Dias quickly rose through the ranks, winning the Primeira Liga’s Young Player of the Year and a league title with Benfica. His move to Manchester City in 2020 marked a significant €68 million transfer, making him the second-highest-paid Portuguese player leaving the domestic league. Dias’s impact was immediate, and his second season contributed to Manchester City’s first-ever continental treble.

Praised by his manager Pep Guardiola for his leadership in the defensive line, Dias also received acclaim from football pundits. José Mourinho dubbed him the “best centre-back in the world,” while Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher highlighted Dias’s ability to instill a sense of security in the entire team, comparing him to legendary defenders like Carles Puyol and John Terry.

2. Josko Gvardiol

  • Country: Croatia
  • Age: 21
  • Club: Manchester City

Josko Gvardiol secures the second spot in our list of the Best Central Defenders in the World. Praised as a modern-day center-back, he excels in traditional defensive tasks while showcasing impressive ball progression skills when in possession. He is known for his comfort on the ball, robust tackling, and the ability to break opposition lines with forward passes. His versatility allows him to play as a ball-playing defender, a wide center-back, or even a wing-back on the left side.

Most Handsome Soccer Players From Croatia
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Notably, Gvardiol’s time at Bundesliga club RB Leipzig saw him utilized as a left-back in various defensive formations. His ability to break opponent lines, strong dribbling under pressure, and powerful runs make him a dynamic player. Gvardiol’s £77 million move to Manchester City in 2023 marked him as the second most expensive defender in footballing history. As a Croatian international, he made his senior debut in 2021, representing his country in UEFA Euro 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where Croatia secured third place.

Pundits laud Gvardiol for displaying a level of maturity beyond his years in his playing style. His left-footed skills complement a right-footed partner well, providing a valuable outlet for his team. Additionally, Gvardiol is recognized for his ability to spot danger, swiftly change direction, and handle fast and strong opponents, showcasing a blend of speed, strength, and defensive intelligence.

3. Marquinhos

  • Country: Brazil Portugal
  • Age: 29
  • Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Ranked as the 3rd Best Central Defender in the World, Marquinhos has been a standout player for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and a key figure in Brazil’s national team. Known for his anticipation, pace, and technical skills, Marquinhos possesses the ability to break down attacks and initiate offensive plays from the back. His leadership skills, speed, and powerful headers contribute to his reputation as one of the best defenders globally. While primarily a center-back, he is versatile enough to play as a right-back or defensive midfielder.

Starting his career at Corinthians, Marquinhos moved to Roma in 2012, eventually joining PSG in 2013 for €31.4 million. He became a crucial part of the team, especially after the departure of David Luiz in 2016. Marquinhos assumed the captaincy after Thiago Silva’s exit in 2020. His PSG achievements include eight Ligue 1 titles, twelve domestic cups, and ranking third in all-time appearances for the club.

Marquinhos made his debut for Brazil in 2013 and has been a consistent presence in major tournaments, winning the 2016 Olympics and the 2019 Copa América. He participated in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the 2019 Copa América, the 2021 Copa América, and the 2022 World Cup, claiming the 2019 Copa América title. Regarded as one of Europe’s most promising young players in 2014, Marquinhos has lived up to expectations, showcasing both temperament and talent on the field.

4. William Saliba

  • Country: France Cameroon
  • Age: 22
  • Club: Arsenal FC

Ranked as the 4th Best Central Defender in the World, William Saliba has made a name for himself with his impressive performances. Starting his career at Saint-Étienne, he signed his first professional contract at age 17 and made his debut in a Ligue 1 win over Toulouse. After joining Arsenal, Saliba spent the 2019–20 season on loan at Saint-Étienne, contributing to their run to the Coupe de France Final.

Returning to Arsenal for the 2022–23 season, Saliba made a significant impact with a solid debut against Crystal Palace, described as “unruffled and virtually faultless.” He scored his first goal for Arsenal in a win over AFC Bournemouth, earning the club’s Goal of the Month for August. Unfortunately, his season was cut short in March 2023 due to a back injury, contributing to Arsenal’s defensive struggles and eventual loss of the lead in the Premier League.

Despite the setback, Saliba signed a new long-term deal with Arsenal until 2028 in July 2023, showcasing the club’s confidence in his abilities. On the international stage, Saliba received a call-up to France’s senior squad in March 2022 and played in the 2022–23 UEFA Nations League. He was also part of the France squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, making his tournament debut in the group stage against Tunisia.

5. Ronald Araujo

  • Country: Uruguay Spain
  • Age: 24
  • Club: FC Barcelona

Ranked as the 5th Best Central Defender in the World, Ronald Araujo is renowned for his physicality, pace, leadership, and athleticism. Born in Rivera near the Brazil border, Araujo began his career at Rentistas before making a significant switch from forward to defender. He showcased his talents at Boston River before joining FC Barcelona in August 2018.

At Barcelona, Araujo initially played for the reserves before making his La Liga debut in October 2019. In the 2020–21 season, he earned a spot in the main squad, wearing the number 4 jersey. Araujo scored his first La Liga goal in December 2020 and made headlines with his first goal in El Clásico in March 2022. In the 2022–23 season, he formed a strong defensive partnership, contributing to Barcelona keeping the most clean sheets in Europe’s top 5 leagues. His performances led to Barcelona naming him the club’s third captain in July 2023.

Araujo was part of Uruguay’s squad for the 2021 Copa América but didn’t play due to injury. Despite being included in the 2022 FIFA World Cup squad, he didn’t make an appearance as Uruguay was eliminated in the group stage. Araujo scored his first international goal in November 2023 during a 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Argentina.

6. Éder Militão

  • Country: Brazil Spain
  • Age: 25
  • Club: Real Madrid

Ranked as the 6th Best Central Defender in the World, Éder Militão has been a standout player for Real Madrid. Notably, he surprised many with his exceptional performance towards the end of the season, establishing himself as one of the best young center-backs globally. There’s high anticipation that he could become the undisputed starter at Real Madrid alongside David Alaba.

Militão began his career at São Paulo, playing 57 matches in two years before making a move to Porto. In 2019, he joined Real Madrid for a reported transfer fee of €50 million. His time with Real Madrid has seen remarkable success, winning two La Liga titles, the Champions League in 2022, and the FIFA Club World Cup in the same year.

Militão made his senior debut for Brazil in 2018 and has been a key part of their success, winning the Copa América in 2019 and finishing as runners-up in 2021. He also represented Brazil at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Considered one of the best defenders globally, Militão is recognized for his strong tackling, marking, and aerial abilities. While primarily a center-back, he also possesses the versatility to play as a right-back or defensive midfielder, adding to his value on the field.

7. Cristian Romero

  • Country: Argentina
  • Age: 25
  • Club: Tottenham Hotspur

Ranked as the 7th Best Central Defender in the World, Cristian Romero has had a stellar career, showcasing his skills both with Atalanta and the Argentine national team. At 25 years old, he has become an undisputed starter in Gasperini’s scheme and played pivotal roles for Argentina, particularly in their triumphant campaigns at the 2021 Copa América and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Romero’s journey began in the youth system at Belgrano, and he made his senior debut in 2016. Moving to Italy in 2018, he played for Genoa before being purchased by Juventus. Subsequently loaned to Atalanta in 2020, Romero was named Serie A Best Defender in 2020–21. After a successful loan stint, he joined Tottenham in 2022.

Romero’s senior debut for Argentina was in 2021, and he played an integral part in securing major tournament victories at the Copa América and the FIFA World Cup.

Known for his aggressive playing style, ball-handling abilities, and dominance in aerial duels, Romero has earned a reputation as a top-tier center-back. His contributions were crucial in Atalanta’s success and played a key role in Tottenham’s defensive setup after his permanent move.

8. Matthijs de Ligt

  • Country: Netherlands
  • Age: 24
  • Club: Bayern Munich

Ranked 8th Best Central Defender globally, Matthijs de Ligt faced defensive challenges at Bayern Munich after a stellar season at Ajax. Despite a dip in his rating, the 24-year-old retains significant potential to reclaim his top form.

Most Handsome Soccer Players From Netherlands
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De Ligt’s early career highlights include winning the 2018 Golden Boy award and becoming Ajax’s second-youngest goalscorer. Moving to Juventus in 2019 and later Bayern Munich in 2022, he contributed to league title victories. Internationally, De Ligt made his mark with the Netherlands, featuring in Euro 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Known for his physical and technical prowess, including clean tackling, anticipation, and aerial ability, he continues to be considered one of the world’s best defenders, with expectations of further growth and consistency in the future.

9. Min-Jae Kim

  • Country: Korea, South
  • Age: 27
  • Club: Bayern Munich

Ranked as the 9th Best Central Defender globally, Min-Jae Kim, known as “the Monster,” is acclaimed as one of the premier defenders in the world. His exceptional physical attributes, including strength, speed, height, and flexibility, set him apart. Operating as a central defender, Kim showcases strong predictive abilities in defense, often initiating and concluding plays as his team advances.

Renowned for his accurate long passes, Kim excels in quick counterattacks after steals, leveraging his aerial prowess and positioning for headers to disrupt opponent attacks and initiate offensive plays. Typically positioned as the rearmost player in his team’s defensive formation, Kim strategically decides when to hold his ground or engage with the opposition.

Despite his defensive role, he adopts a proactive and aggressive approach, utilizing his speed and physical strength to effectively regain possession for his team.

10. Gabriel Magalhães

  • Country: Brazil
  • Age: 26
  • Club: Arsenal FC

Ranked as the 10th Best Central Defender globally is Gabriel Magalhães. In 2020, Arsenal secured his services, and Gabriel made an impactful debut, scoring on the opening day against Fulham. His impressive performances earned him multiple Player of the Month awards. In the 2022-23 season, he signed a new long-term contract and continued to shine, scoring crucial goals for Arsenal.

His stint at Lille saw him excel in the Champions League and secure a contract extension. The move to Arsenal in 2020 marked another chapter in his career, where he quickly adapted, showcasing defensive prowess and goal-scoring ability. Despite facing challenges, including a red card and injuries, Gabriel’s commitment to defending and aggressive style earned him accolades.

Gabriel Magalhães’ career trajectory illustrates his resilience, adaptability, and impact on both domestic and international fronts. His defensive skills, distribution ability, and goal-scoring contributions have solidified his reputation as one of the top central defenders globally.

11. Jules Koundé

  • Country: France Benin
  • Age: 25
  • Club: FC Barcelona

Ranked as the 11th Best Central Defender globally, Jules Koundé has established himself as a talented and impactful player in European football. Starting his career with Bordeaux, he made significant contributions, including scoring his first Ligue 1 goal in February 2018. In 2019, Koundé made a €25 million move to Sevilla, where he played a key role in helping the club secure the UEFA Europa League title in his debut season. His impressive performances earned him recognition in the competition’s team of the season.

Koundé’s journey reflects a seamless transition from Bordeaux to Sevilla and later to Barcelona. His defensive prowess and contributions to Sevilla’s Europa League triumph showcased his abilities on the continental stage. The transfer to Barcelona marked a new chapter, and despite initial registration challenges, Koundé made a successful debut for the club.

He earned a spot in the France national team for UEFA Euro 2020 and made his debut in a friendly against Wales. Notably, Koundé started in France’s victory over Spain in the 2021 UEFA Nations League Final, highlighting his importance at both the club and international levels.

12. Dayot Upamecano

  • Country: France Guinea-Bissau
  • Age: 25
  • Club: Bayern Munich

Ranked as the 12th Best Central Defender globally, Dayot Upamecano has emerged as a defensive force in European football. His journey began with Red Bull Salzburg in 2015, attracting attention from major clubs. In 2017, he moved to RB Leipzig, where he solidified his place in both domestic and European competitions. The 2019-20 season saw Upamecano reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals with RB Leipzig, displaying his defensive prowess.

In February 2021, Bayern Munich secured Upamecano’s signing, meeting his release clause of €42.5 million. His competitive debut in the 2021-22 Bundesliga season showcased his skills, and he scored his first goal for Bayern in December. Despite a world-class performance against Kylian Mbappé in the UEFA Champions League, Upamecano faced challenges in the quarter-finals against Manchester City.

Upamecano progressed through France’s youth teams, winning the 2015 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. He made his senior debut in September 2020, contributing significantly to France’s 2022 FIFA World Cup journey, reaching the final where they faced Argentina in a memorable 3-3 draw, ultimately losing in penalties.

13. Alessandro Bastoni

  • Country: Italy
  • Age: 24
  • Club: Inter Milan

Ranked as the 13th Best Central Defender globally, Alessandro Bastoni has rapidly ascended as a defensive star in European football. At 24 years old, the Italian center-back has become a cornerstone of Inter Milan’s defense, contributing significantly to their Serie A triumph. Initially starting his career as a full-back, Bastoni’s versatility allows him to excel both as a full-back and a center-back.

Known for his left foot, Bastoni stands out for his exceptional passing ability and ball control. His height and aptitude for exploiting spaces make him a threat in aerial duels, particularly from indirect set-pieces. Recognized as one of the promising young talents in football, he was featured in UEFA.com’s “Fifty for the Future” list in 2020.

Bastoni’s statistics indicate considerable potential for improvement, fueling expectations that he could evolve into one of the best defenders in the future. Notably, he was part of the victorious Italian team in the UEFA EURO championship. As he continues to refine his skills, Bastoni’s trajectory suggests a bright future in the world of football.

14. Levi Colwill

  • Country: England
  • Age: 20
  • Club: Chelsea FC

Levi Colwill, the 14th Best Central Defender globally, shines for Premier League club Chelsea, known for his adaptability as a center-back or left-sided full-back. In August 2023, he signed a six-year contract and swiftly made his mark, scoring his debut goal against Brighton in the 2023–24 Premier League.

Colwill’s versatility and ball-playing skills draw comparisons to Chelsea legend John Terry. His journey includes captaining Chelsea and earning a senior call-up for the England national team, making his debut against Australia in October 2023. Despite facing challenges like squad withdrawals due to injury, Colwill’s future in both club and international football looks promising.

Levi Colwill’s impact is not only felt on the pitch but also as a symbol of Chelsea’s commitment to nurturing talent from their academy. His six-year contract reflects the club’s confidence in his potential, making him a key figure in Chelsea’s defensive lineup.

15. Gleison Bremer

  • Country: Brazil
  • Age: 26
  • Club: Juventus

Gleison Bremer, the 15th Best Central Defender globally, has a remarkable journey in professional football. Starting in Brazil with São Paulo and Atlético Mineiro, he later moved to Torino in Italy, where he initially served as a reserve. However, after becoming a regular starter, he showcased his defensive prowess, earning recognition as the best defender in Serie A for the 2021–22 season. In February 2022, Bremer extended his contract with Torino until 2024.

In a surprising move, Bremer joined Italian rivals Juventus in July 2022 on a five-year deal. His impact was immediate, contributing to Juventus’ victories and scoring his first goal against Salernitana. Demonstrating his commitment and performance, Bremer extended his contract with Juventus until 2028. This period saw him score a notable goal in the Derby della Mole against former club Torino.

Bremer made his debut in a friendly against Ghana and was subsequently named in the squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Known for his physical strength, aerial ability, and versatility, Bremer draws inspiration from legendary Brazilian defender Lúcio. His dynamic style of play has made him a force to be reckoned with in both domestic and international football.

16. Lisandro Martínez

  • Country: Argentina
  • Age: 25
  • Club: Manchester United

Lisandro Martínez ranked as the 16th Best Central Defender globally, is recognized for his aggressive playing style, earning him the nickname “the Butcher.” Primarily a center-back, he showcases versatility by excelling at left-back and defensive midfield. His ball-playing skills, remarkable passing range, and composure on the ball make him a standout player. During the 2021–22 Eredivisie season, he led in passes per 90 minutes, highlighting his playmaking abilities.

Beginning his career at Newell’s Old Boys, Martínez joined Defensa y Justicia in 2017 before making a significant move to Ajax in 2019. His time at Ajax saw impressive achievements, including two Eredivisie titles and one KNVB Cup. Martínez received the Ajax Player of the Year award in the 2021–22 season.

Martínez represented Argentina at various youth levels and made his senior debut in March 2019. He played pivotal roles in Argentina’s victories at the 2021 Copa América, the 2022 Finalissima, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. His standout performances drew comparisons to Nemanja Vidić, a legendary former Manchester United defender, with Vidić praising Martínez for his winning mentality, energy, and defensive prowess.

Known for his strong ball movement, physicality, and aggressive tackling, Martínez has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of football.

17. António Silva

  • Country: Portugal
  • Age: 20
  • Club: SL Benfica

António Silva ranked as the 17th Best Central Defender globally, stands out for his hard-tackling and versatile defensive abilities. A physically strong right-footed center-back, Silva excels on the right side of central defense and possesses the rare skill of adept passing with both feet. Known for his accurate tackling and excellent possession-winning capabilities, Silva’s tactical intelligence, speed of thought, and reading of the game contribute to his effectiveness on the field.

Silva, nurtured through Benfica’s youth system, showcased his talents with the reserve side, notably winning the UEFA Youth League in 2021–22. His promotion to the first team saw him make a significant impact, aiding Benfica in securing the league title during his debut season. As a former Portugal youth international, he earned a spot in the senior squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and quickly made his mark with a senior international debut.

In addition to his defensive prowess, Silva exhibits technical finesse and distribution skills. His ability to cover ground, apply pressure and anticipate opponents in advanced positions on the pitch further solidifies his standing as a promising talent. Recognized for his leadership qualities, Silva has been hailed as a potential future captain for Benfica by former Portuguese international Abel Xavier. He draws inspiration from football icons Cristiano Ronaldo and Benfica legend Luisão, as well as fellow defenders Rúben Dias, Antonio Rüdiger, and Virgil van Dijk.

18. Micky van de Ven

  • Country: Netherlands
  • Age: 22
  • Club: Tottenham Hotspur

Micky van de Ven, securing the 18th spot as the Best Central Defender globally, has made a significant impact on the football scene. Beginning his career at FC Volendam, he quickly rose through the ranks, assuming the captaincy and catching attention during the promotion play-offs. His move to VfL Wolfsburg in 2021 for £3.15 million showcased his prowess, featuring prominently in Bundesliga matches and recording the highest top speed for a defender in the league.

The Dutch talent made a high-profile switch to English club Tottenham Hotspur in August 2023, signing a six-year deal reportedly around €50 million. Van de Ven made his Premier League debut against Brentford in the 2023–24 season. Unfortunately, his promising start was interrupted by a hamstring injury in November 2023, expected to keep him sidelined until 2024.

Van de Ven’s potential was recognized as he was included in the preliminary Netherlands squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and later received his official call-up to the senior national team in August 2023. Making his debut against France in a Euro qualification match, he entered the field as a substitute in the 80th minute, marking the beginning of his international journey.

19. Pau Torres

  • Country: Spain
  • Age: 26
  • Club: Aston Villa

Pau Torres, securing the 19th position as one of the Best Central Defenders globally, has demonstrated remarkable skills and played a crucial role in Villarreal’s success under Unai Emery. His standout performances have earned him recognition, contributing significantly to Villarreal’s Europa League triumph in 2021. Torres, a Spanish center-back, has also been a key player for the Spanish national team, representing his country in major tournaments such as Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup.

Having started his career with Villarreal, Torres made 173 competitive appearances for the club and experienced success by clinching the 2021 Europa League title. His contributions on the field led to a loan spell with Málaga. In July 2023, Torres made a notable move to Aston Villa, further establishing himself as a top-tier central defender.

Torres made his full debut for the Spanish national team in 2019, showcasing his goal-scoring prowess in his first game. His versatility and defensive abilities earned him a spot in Spain’s squads for Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup.

Notably, he was part of the Olympic team that secured a silver medal at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, demonstrating his prowess on both domestic and international fronts.

20. Sven Botman

  • Country: Netherlands
  • Age: 23
  • Club: Newcastle United

Sven Botman, securing the 20th spot among the Best Central Defenders globally, currently plays for Premier League club Newcastle United. He began his professional journey with Ajax, making his senior team debut in a friendly against VVSB on June 23, 2018.

In a significant move, Botman signed a five-year contract with Ligue 1 club Lille on July 31, 2020, in a deal valued at around £10 million. His impressive performances drew attention, leading to another notable transfer to Premier League side Newcastle United for €40 million. Botman made an impact early on, scoring his first goal for Newcastle in a remarkable 8-0 away victory over Sheffield United.

Botman showcased his leadership skills by captaining the Netherlands at the under-21 level. His outstanding performances earned him a call-up to the senior Netherlands squad in November 2020. Additionally, he was part of the preliminary squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in October 2022, reflecting his growing stature in global football.

FAQs

Who is the best centre-back in 2024?

Ruben Dias, Virgil van Dijk, and Josko Gvardiol are considered Best center-backs in soccer.

Who is the best defender in eFootball 2024?

In eFootball 2024, Josko Gvardiol is regarded as the top defender.

Who is the best defender in the Premier League in 2024?

According to 90min.com, Joe Gomez is considered the top defender in the Premier League for 2024.

Who is the greatest defender of the 21st century?

Fabio Cannavaro and Sergio Ramos are regarded as the greatest defenders of the 21st century.

  • Fabio Cannavaro: He won the Ballon d’Or in 2006 and led Italy to a World Cup victory. He’s praised for his leadership on the field, strong tackling ability, and excellent reading of the game.
  • Sergio Ramos: He is the most decorated defender ever, having won five Champions League trophies. Ramos is known for his exceptional aerial ability, aggressive defending style, and knack for scoring crucial goals.

Who is better van Dijk or Sergio Ramos?

Both Virgil van Dijk and Sergio Ramos are considered the greatest defenders. Van Dijk, being younger, may have more peak years ahead of him, while Ramos, nearing the end of his career, has already established himself as one of the best.

Which centre-back has scored the most goals?

Ronald Koeman, the Dutch legend, holds the record with an impressive 253 goals throughout his career. He was famous for his strong free-kicks and penalty-taking skills, as well as his ability to score from open play.

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