Lists

Ranked! The 10 best centre-backs in the world

Best centre-backs in the world

Find out which stoppers come up trumps in our run-down of the greatest central defenders on the planet

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

10. Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)

Toby Alderweireld

Alderweireld endured a difficult time at Spurs while a contract dispute led to his awkward benching in 2017/18. Yet the Belgium international came back with an excellent World Cup as his country finished third in Russia, and soon returned to Mauricio Pochettino's first team despite being heavily linked with a move to Manchester United in the summer.

Better still, Alderweireld helped Spurs record another top-four finish and reach a surprise Champions League final for the first time. An extension to his contract was triggered, but that only means he can leave for a cut-price fee this summer. 

Alderweireld is rarely caught out of position and is equally comfortable playing in a back three or back four. He’s a terrific passer too, and is particularly adept at spraying long diagonals out to the flanks.

9. Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)

Jan Vertonghen

Going into his eighth season as a Tottenham player, Vertonghen has developed into one of the world’s leading centre-backs – and arguably the foremost in the Premier League – over the last couple of years.

Alderweireld's team-mate for club and country is aggressive and an expert at wrestling the ball away from opposition strikers high upfield. He's strong in one-on-one duels and comfortable when forced to defend in wide areas – and the Belgian is also surprisingly adept at left-back, as he proved with a stunning display against Borussia Dortmund in 2018/19.

8. Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)

Giorgio Chiellini

The grizzled Italian stalwart may turn 35 in August, but he remains one of the standout players in his position. Strong in the tackle and commanding aerially, Chiellini is a wonderful reader of the game and an underrated passer from deep.

Juve's defensive stalwart is still a mainstay in the Bianconeri backline and will be integral as they look to land a Champions League win for the first time since 1996. 

7. Diego Godin (Inter Milan)

Diego Godin Inter Milan

Godin isn’t the type of centre-half who would thrive under Pep Guardiola or Maurizio Sarri, but he’s the man you want to go to war with – as was so often the case at Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone. While he’s by no means poor in possession – the 33-year-old has shown that he’s perfectly capable of carrying the ball upfield when the situation demands.

Gritty, rugged and aggressive, the former Villarreal stopper has joined Inter Milan for the 2019/20 season and beyond. The Nerazzuri are getting a player blessed with great powers of anticipation and a useful knack for popping up with vital set-piece goals.

6. Gerard Pique (Barcelona)

Gerard Pique

You're going to need a bigger trophy cabinet. Pique hoisted aloft his eighth La Liga trophy with Barça in 2018/19, nudging aside the 11 other major prizes he's clinched with the Catalans and Spain since 2008.

He may be 32 now, but Pique missed only three league games for Ernesto Valverde last season – and one of those was through suspension. He formed a blossoming partnership with France stopper Clement Lenglet which is likely to see Barça through again in 2019/20. Pique has never been perfect but remains a centre-back managers want to have around.