Defenders are the unsung heroes of the beautiful game, often overshadowed by the glamour of strikers and midfielders. However, their role is important in ensuring that a team remains solid at the back and difficult to break down.
In 2023, the football world is graced by some exceptional defenders who have consistently demonstrated their defensive prowess, composure, and ability to read the game.
- Best Defenders In Soccer 2023
- 1. Rúben Dias
- 2. Achraf Hakimi
- 3. David Alaba
- 4. Virgil van Dijk
- 5. Kyle Walker
- 6. Marquinhos
- 7. William Saliba
- 8. Ronald Araújo
- 9. Kim Min-Jae
- 10. Theo Hernandez
Best Defenders In Soccer 2023
The main objective of defenders is still to prevent the opposition from scoring, but currently, there’s a trend towards influencing the game by distributing the ball from the defensive line.
We are in an era where defenders who excel in playing the ball are highly valued. And, managers are increasingly adopting inverted full-backs to find tactical solutions for boosting their team’s goal-scoring and winning capabilities.
Compiling a list of the world’s best defenders is a challenging task due to the diverse qualities each type of player brings to the game.
However, our top 10 defenders consider their sustained success and their current level of skill, while overlooking temporary drops in performance.
1. Rúben Dias
Rúben Dias, the Portuguese center-back, has solidified his place among the best defenders globally.
Known for his impeccable positioning, exceptional aerial ability, and composure on the ball, Dias played a big role in Manchester City’s Premier League triumphs.
When Manchester City invested over £60 million to acquire him from Benfica in the summer of 2020, there were a few raised eyebrows. However, he has proven to be a stellar addition to the team.
In his debut season at the Etihad Stadium, he not only earned the title of Premier League Player of the Season but also a key factor in City conceding the fewest goals on their way to a comfortable title victory, adding to the silverware he had already won with Benfica and the Portuguese national team.
Dias has the qualities of a traditional center-back in defensive situations, using his imposing physical presence to outmuscle opponents.
However, his true brilliance shines when he has possession of the ball, thanks to his precise passing and remarkable composure. He is undoubtedly a class act.
2. Achraf Hakimi
Hakimi is a modern defender who excels in both defense and attack.
His lightning-fast speed, dribbling skills, and crossing ability make him a constant threat on the right flank. Hakimi has added a new dimension to their defense and attack for the French outfit.
At just 24 years old, Hakimi has already graced the squads of four of Europe’s most prestigious clubs and has an impressive collection of trophies under his belt, including the Champions League, Serie A, and Ligue 1 titles.
Blessed with incredible speed and a sharp goal-scoring instinct, Hakimi poses a significant threat to rival full-backs.
However, he also had the opportunity to showcase his defensive prowess during Morocco’s remarkable journey to the World Cup semi-finals in Qatar last year.
3. David Alaba
The Austrian utility man is a true footballing talent.
He isn’t just one of the world’s top center-backs; he’s also excelled as a left-back, a capable midfielder, and even a decent left-winger.
In fact, you might as well hand him some goalkeeping gloves, and he’d probably manage to keep a clean sheet.
His presence in Real Madrid’s defense played a major role in their success in La Liga and the Champions League last season. Alaba has seamlessly transitioned into the new season with the same level of performance.
He not only defends adeptly but also poses a goal-scoring threat.
His passing skills and composure, especially when initiating possession from the back under pressure, make him a valuable asset in creating chances for his teammates.
Whether playing as a center-back, left-back, or even in midfield, Alaba excels in any position he’s deployed.
His defensive intelligence and ability to contribute to the attack make him a valuable asset for his club, Real Madrid, and the Austrian national team.
4. Virgil van Dijk
The towering Dutch defender has been a rock at the heart of Liverpool’s defense since his arrival in 2018.
The Dutchman was the missing element in Jurgen Klopp’s grand plan, ultimately propelling Liverpool to their Premier League victory in 2020. His career also boasts the addition of trophies such as the Champions League, FA Cup, and EFL Cup.
While the 2022-2023 season proved disappointing for the Reds, some of the blame can be placed on Van Dijk, who endured one of his most challenging seasons in recent memory.
Nevertheless, true class perseveres, and when he eventually decides to retire, he will undoubtedly be celebrated as one of the greatest ever to grace the Premier League.
5. Kyle Walker
The versatile right-back for Manchester City is known for his blistering pace and defensive astuteness. He’s equally adept at providing attacking support while maintaining his defensive duties. Walker’s consistency in top-level football has earned him a spot on this list.
Pep Guardiola faced a tough decision when it came to potentially letting England defender Kyle Walker leave the club. However, it seems they quickly realized that it would have been a significant mistake.
As they openly acknowledged last week, finding a suitable replacement for Kyle Walker would have been a formidable challenge.
Over the past six years, Kyle Walker has consistently served as Manchester City’s first-choice right-back and, at times, even displaced the world-class Joao Cancelo to the left-back position, eventually securing his spot in the starting lineup.
His exceptional pace, which few players can match, even in the case of someone as speedy as Kylian Mbappe. His speed is a rare asset among full-backs in the league.
The Brazilian center-back has been a cornerstone of Paris Saint-Germain’s defense for several seasons and plays an indispensable role as the defensive linchpin and team leader.
Since joining the French club in 2013, this 76-time capped Brazilian international has amassed an impressive haul of 20 major trophies, including an Olympic Gold Medal and the 2019 Copa America with his national team.
Marquinhos excels in the fundamentals of defending, making him an exceptionally reliable and consistent figure on the pitch.
His impeccable tackling, anticipation, and ability to play out from the back make him one of the best in the business. Marquinhos’s leadership qualities and versatility also make him an indispensable figure for PSG.
7. William Saliba
The young French defender has been making waves in European football. After a loan spell at Marseille, Saliba returned to Arsenal and quickly established himself as a top-class center-back.
He has seamlessly integrated into Arsenal’s central defense and is delivering good performances during the early stages of the 2022-23 season. His displays have been nearly flawless.
As the previous season’s Ligue 1 young player of the year, Saliba exhibits an assertive defensive style while maintaining composure when in possession of the ball, even in high-pressure situations.
An excellent example of this can be seen in his expertly curled goal with his weaker foot against Bournemouth in August.
Despite being only 21 years old, Saliba is firmly establishing himself in France’s senior squad. He embodies everything positive about Arsenal’s remarkably impressive start to their Premier League campaign.
His composure, ball-playing ability, and defensive instincts set him apart as one of the most promising young defenders in the world.
8. Ronald Araújo
The Uruguayan center-back has been a revelation for Barcelona.
Despite his young age, he has shown defensive abilities that surpass his years, contributing to Barcelona’s impressive defensive record in La Liga last season, where they conceded the fewest goals (20) en route to winning the title.
In-ground duels for possession, Ronald Araujo employs his physical presence effectively to dislodge opponents from the ball or disrupt their balance, enabling him to regain possession.
His physicality, ability to win aerial duels, and excellent reading of the game make him a rising star in the world of defending.
Araújo’s performances have been crucial for Barcelona’s resurgence in La Liga.
9. Kim Min-Jae
Known as “The Monster,” Kim’s imposing physical presence, solid defensive skills, and ability to play out from the back make him a standout defender.
Having joined the Turkish giants from Beijing Guoan in China for just €3m in 2021, his rise to prominence has been rapid.
Kim Min-Jae made a stellar start to his journey with Napoli, showing remarkable consistency as Napoli won their first Italian Serie A title in 33 years,
The title is Napoli’s third in Italy’s top division and their first since the legendary Argentine player Diego Maradona led them to championships in 1987 and 1990
A rock-solid presence in Napoli’s defense, the 25-year-old possesses an excellent ability to read the game, often intercepting passes aimed at opposing strikers.
As expected, he didn’t stay put at Naples after just one season. Both Manchester United and Bayern Munich showed major interest.
However, it was Bayern Munich who ultimately secured Min-Jae’s services with a record-breaking transfer fee, making him the current priciest Asian footballer in the world.
He exhibits confidence in moving the ball from the defensive line, effectively contributing to his team’s possession play and helping Napoli’s flourishing attacking talents.
10. Theo Hernandez
The French left-back has been a revelation for AC Milan.
His dynamic and attacking style of play, coupled with solid defensive abilities, has made him a fan favorite. Hernandez’s contributions in both halves of the pitch have been vital for Milan’s resurgence in Serie A.
Leaving his underwhelming stint at Real Madrid firmly behind, emerging as a dynamic force for AC Milan since his arrival at the San Siro in 2019.
His impressive record of 49 goal contributions in 145 appearances for Milan shapes his exceptional attacking abilities, making a strong case for him being arguably the most exciting left-back in football.
Hernandez has solidified his position as France’s first-choice left-back, outshining his brother Lucas in this role.
He even managed to score a crucial goal in Les Bleus’ 2022 World Cup semi-final victory over Qatar, proving his formidable talent on the field. In short, he’s a true football talent.
Who is the best defender in the world in 2023?
Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
Who is the best defender of all time in history?
- Paolo Maldini
- Franz Beckenbauer
- Franco Baresi
- Bobby Moore
- Daniel Passarella
- Giacinto Facchetti
- Sergio Ramos
- Philipp Lahm
- Alessandro Nesta
- Gaetano Scirea
Who is the best defender in FIFA 23?
Virgil van Dijk – Best Defenders In FIFA 23 & FUT
Which defender has more goals?
The former Dutch international and Barcelona legend holds the record for most goals scored by a defender in football history with a mind-boggling 207. He was a sweeper like Beckenbauer, but in his later years, he also played in the middle of the field.
Who was the first defender to win the Ballon d’Or?
Beckenbauer was the first defender to win it, doing so in 1972 and again in 1976, while fellow German sweeper Matthias Sammer was later honored in 1996.
Who was the last defender to win the Ballon d’Or?
The last defender to win the Ballon d’Or, and actually still the only non-German, was Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.