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Ranking the top 10 the best centre backs in the world

In the field of football, there are few positions that mean as much as central defenders. These defenders, often the backbone of their team, possess a rare combination of strength, skill and tactical acumen. Today, let’s discover the 10 the best centre backs in the world, define matches and leave an indelible mark in the beautiful game.

Top 10 The Best Centre Backs in the World

10. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool & Netherlands)

For several seasons, Virgil van Dijk has been considered the gold standard for his generation of center-backs. However, after a serious injury, the Dutch international struggled to regain his form, which made him a €84,650,000 player who truly justified his price tag. But in the 2023/2024 season, VVD showed enough of his old qualities to be included in the list of the top 10 center-backs in the world.

The best centre backs in the world: Virgil van Dijk
The best centre backs in the world: Virgil van Dijk

A towering presence in defense and a threat in attack, Van Dijk ranks second in the current Premier League season when it comes to aerial duel success rate. He’s consistently been among the top 10 in total league titles won over the past few seasons.

9. Sven Botman (Newcastle United)

Perhaps inclusion in the top 10 center-backs will catch the most attention, as such lists are usually reserved for players from top clubs. However, who can now argue that Newcastle United isn’t one? Both City and Chelsea couldn’t propel themselves as quickly amidst weaker competition, and Botman is a key reason for NUFC’s outstanding performance.

Best centre backs in the world: Sven Botman
Best centre backs in the world: Sven Botman

At just 23, Botman already has a title-winning season in a top 5 league under his belt. After all, PSG also has the exclusive right to do so. While Lille’s cup triumph was largely due to their defensive prowess, Botman, in the 2020/2021 championship-winning season, ranked third in touches in Ligue 1! He’s fifth in progressive distance covered! The Ajax academy graduate attributes his robust physique to a good upbringing and the pressures he faced as a young player. The sky’s the limit, but not too far.

8. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain & Brazil)

Another player who might want to forget 2023 – mainly due to international disappointment – but Marquinhos has been consistently high-class for too many years to overlook. He’s bounced back strongly and ranks fourth in major European tournaments in terms of progressive distance covered, topping the charts in his league.

Best centre backs: Marquinhos
Best centre backs: Marquinhos

The Brazilian player has taken on more responsibilities and currently ranks fourth in assists in the final third! Marquinhos has won 8 Ligue 1 titles with PSG, 12 cups in France, a Copa America with Brazil, and he’s still only 29 years old!

7. Ronald Araujo (Barcelona & Uruguay)

Barcelona’s resurgence seems largely due to the backstage staff and the club’s DNA fitting with Gavi and Pedri. But Ronald Araujo was the first bottleneck stopper to prevent the ship from sinking. The Uruguayan center-back joined the club’s B team in 2018 and has since made 124 appearances for Blaugrana, at the age of 24. The Uruguayan player ranks seventh for three consecutive seasons in La Liga when it comes to aerial duel success rate.

Best centre backs in football: Ronald Araujo
Best centre backs in football: Ronald Araujo

Alongside his towering physical presence since arriving in Catalonia, Araujo has developed other aspects of his game. Deserving of wearing the Barca shirt, he’s among the top 10 players with the highest passing success rate in La Liga. This is now a prerequisite for any player considered a top 10 center-back.

6. Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid)

A mainstay in the top 10 center-backs list for a while, Antonio Rudiger has shifted the landscape later in his career. But top CBs adapt to different leagues seamlessly, and many argue that Rudiger has progressed since arriving at Santiago Bernabeu. To date, he leads most leagues in progressive distance covered, ranking fourth overall. But Rudiger, at 30, has proven himself to be a stable factor in Real’s transitional period. Although he only arrived in 2022.

Best centre backs of all time: Antonio Rudiger
Best centre backs of all time: Antonio Rudiger

Being able to fill the right-back position is crucial for Carlo Ancelotti but also enhances his stature among the locals at Santiago Bernabeu. In a team full of technical stars, Rudiger is the player opponents genuinely fear to face.

5. Cristian Romero (Tottenham & Argentina)

Argentina seemed to lack a world-class center-back for a long time. When they got one, the talent-rich attacking nation clinched a World Cup. Of course, Romero doesn’t get all the credit, not even in defense, but his impact is significant. At just 25, a World Cup winner, Romero entered the 2023/2024 season in a new collaborative relationship with a “rookie” pushing Spurs to the top of the table. After losing their best player ever.

Best centre backs ever: Cristian Romero
Best centre backs ever: Cristian Romero

Romero is what you expect from an Argentine player, let alone a defender. He’s combative, passionate, eager to participate, but he combines it with the tactical sense he gained in Italy. In the 2020/2021 season with Atalanta, he was the second-highest interceptor in the top 5 leagues! The year before, he also had a similar position in the block ranking!

4. Min-jae Kim (Bayern Munich & South Korea)

While Kvaradona and Victor Osimhen were widely circulated from Napoli’s long-awaited Scudetto-winning season, Min-jae Kim moved to one of Europe’s powerhouses – Bayern Munich! In that Serie A title-winning campaign, Kim ranked fourth in interceptions. A robust and committed defender, Kim is also a driving force in attack. In his final year with Napoli, he led the league in touches and ranked second in progressive distance covered! He also ranked third in passes into the final third.

The best centre backs in the world: Min-jae Kim
The best centre backs in the world: Min-jae Kim

While currently in the top 5 in the Bundesliga with the same stats and sixth in progressive passes! He’s also the sixth successful aerial dueler when conquering Italy. With him, Bayern has acquired one of the most complete center-backs in the world.

3. Alessandro Bastoni (Inter & Italy)

Seemingly out of nowhere, Inter secured a spot in the Champions League final. While no one truly predicted that, a deep understanding shows that Bastoni-Barella’s backbone was once the biggest pillar for Simone Inzaghi. This left-footed center-back, only 24, is a leader from the back.

Best centre backs in the world: Alessandro Bastoni
Best centre backs in the world: Alessandro Bastoni

Also, a European and domestic champion. In the center-back position, he’s among the top five Serie A players in progressive distance covered. Among the top seven players with the highest touches in a season. Demonstrating his importance in building the team, not just to thwart opponents. A modern top-class center-back. With an old-school touch.

2. Ruben Dias (Manchester City & Portugal)

Yes, Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne receive most of the praises (alongside Pep), but much of Man City’s dominance starts from the back. Proving simply that in the current Premier League season, Ruben Dias is the 10th player with the most passes into the final third.

Best centre backs: Ruben Dias
Best centre backs: Ruben Dias

He’s had a consistent passing success rate, making it into the top 10 in the PL throughout his time in England! Dias, at 26, has already captained Benfica and won championships before joining Man City. Consistent in interceptions, blocks, and handling trends.

1. John Stones (Manchester City & England)

Few could have believed it a few seasons ago, but what John Stones achieved in the 2022/2023 season has made him the best center-back in the world. A modern center-back is a modest assessment for Stones, as he’s entrusted by Pep Guardiola with a unique role. Stones acts as a defensive midfielder when his team has the ball, and drops back as a regular CB when defending. Many analysts believe this was the tactical difference in the treble-winning season (having Erling Haaland in the team also helped a lot).

The best centre backs in the world: John Stones
The best centre backs in the world: John Stones

Stones ranks seventh in the top five leagues in completion rate! And he’s not a CB who just clears the ball back to the goalkeeper. He’s almost playing as a raumdeuter (space explorer position invented for Thomas Muller) but in the central midfield position. This unexpected player development has added to his existing aerial threat, as he became the first in Europe to win aerial duels in the 2021/2022 season!


In conclusion, the world of football is graced by the presence of exceptional center-backs who epitomize the essence of defensive mastery. Through their unwavering commitment, tactical brilliance, and sheer determination, these players not only safeguard their teams’ goals but also influence the course of matches and championships. Their impact transcends the boundaries of the pitch, inspiring generations of fans and aspiring defenders alike. As we celebrate their achievements and contributions, we recognize that in the ever-evolving landscape of football, the best center-backs continue to define excellence, leaving an enduring legacy that enriches the sport we all cherish.

See more: The current top 10 most expensive goalkeeper in the world