It is extremely tough to be a defender in soccer, which is why the best ones out there are some of the most respected players in the game. There are plenty of great defenders playing right now, but the five listed below are some of the most talented and consistent in the world.
This is one player that no one would have expected to be on this type of list three or four years ago. Attackers used to love having one-on-one confrontations with Jerome Boateng, which makes what he's done since joining Bayern Munich pretty amazing. He transitioned from being a mistake-prone defender into one of the most composed and skilled in the world.
While everyone else on this list will always be found in the center of the defense, Boateng is equally adept at inside and outside positions. This is because he can get up and down the sidelines just as well as he can cover the strikers in the back.
One area where Boateng has greatly improved over the last few years is his ability to pick out a key pass from the back. He will often steal the ball from an attacker and get the ball moving up the field for his teams.
Boateng could easily become the best all-around defender in the world if he keeps improving like he has been.
When a central defender can single-handedly help his team slow down some of the best attackers in the world, he has to be considered one of the best. That is certainly the case with Diego Godin, who has regularly stifled the likes of Messi and Ronaldo while playing in La Liga. Atletico Madrid is more known for its attack, but they wouldn’t be close to as good as they are without Godin covering their back line.
What makes Diego Godin such a great defensive player is that he has amazing speed to go along with his great tackling and positioning. You could say that he is perfect for the modern game, which is much more high-paced than it was a few decades ago. You will very rarely see an attacker get past Godin since he will use his speed and determination to catch just about anyone.
Chiellini may be the slowest of all of the players listed here, but his tackling and heading abilities are right at the top of the charts. Something that he has over everyone else on this page is that he has been consistently one of the best center backs in the world for more than 10 years. He may not be one of the paciest defenders, but that doesn’t really matter since opposing players rarely get past him.
Whether playing for Italy or Juventus, Chiellini has gained a reputation for helping his teams keep the opponents’ goal totals way down. He is one of the main reasons why both Juventus and his national team concede so few goals, and why so many players hate to face him.
Thiago Silva is one of the most respected defenders in the game, and for good reason. He is currently the captain of both PSG and Brazil’s national team because of his ability to lead the back line and make huge plays in key moments. He's also done a great job with his work off the field to avoid injuries throughout his career. He’s not the tallest or biggest defender, but he might just have the best mix of size and quickness.
What really sets Thiago Silva apart from just about every other soccer player on the planet is his ability to read the game. If one of his fellow defenders goes out of position, he seems to always know where to fill in to prevent the opposing team from getting scoring opportunities. This is the type of thing that you need to see to truly appreciate, so you should definitely watch him do his thing on the pitch if you haven’t already.
Mats Hummels is probably the most underrated player on this list since he does not play for one of the top clubs. However, he is not underrated by the players who face him since they know that he doesn’t really have any defensive weaknesses. There is a reason why he has been and will continue to be an automatic starter on Germany’s national team.
You have to be able to pass the ball to be considered a “complete defender” these days, and Hummels may just have the best passing skills of any center back in the world. Many defenders choose to do their defensive job give the ball up as quickly as possible. That is not the case with Hummels, who will gladly pass the ball with either foot all the way up the field if he sees a good opportunity for his team.