Top 10 Best Defenders In The World (2023)

Ronald Araújo best defenders in the world BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 8: Ronald Araujo of FC Barcelona during the match between Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur (Joan Gamper Trophy) at the Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium on August 8, 2023 in Barcelona Spain
(Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

There is a saying in football that goals win you games but defense win you titles. This highlights the importance of defenders to a team.

Defenders in football are the unsung heroes of the game. They are the first line of defense against the opposing team’s attacks, and their primary goal is to prevent the opposing players from scoring a goal. Without defenders, the game of football would be chaotic, with no structure or organization.

In several years past, defenders were often known to be rugged and focus majorly on strength, stamina, and tackling ability.

Gone are the days when defenders in football were just expected to clear the ball away from their own half. In modern football, defenders are required to do so much more.

They are expected to be skilled passers of the ball and play from the back, in addition to their defensive duties. The game has evolved, and with it, the demands on defenders have increased dramatically.

Now, defenders are expected to be able to start attacks from the back, to be able to play long, accurate passes to their teammates, and to be comfortable on the ball under pressure.

There have been many great defenders in football like of Fabio Cannavaro, who is the only defender to have won the FIFA Best Player of the Year award.

Others like Nesta, Cafu, Maldini, Puyol and more register their name as some of the best defenders in the history of football.

However, there are still some top defenders in football today. In this article, TOP SOCCER BLOG brings you our list of the best defenders in the world in 2023.

1. Rúben Dias

Rúben Dias best defenders in the world LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 6: Ruben Dias of Manchester City during The FA Community Shield match between Manchester City against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on August 6, 2023 in London, England.
(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Ruben Dias is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in the world at the moment; not many players possess the kind of defensive prowess, leadership, and aerial ability he has.

He’s one of the few defenders who plays the role like old-school defenders. He won the FWA Footballer of the Year in his first season at the Etihad Stadium after helping City concede the fewest goals as they won the Premier League title in 2020/2021.

Since his days at Benfica’s youth teams, he’s always shown signs of being a world class talent.

And his rise hasn’t been surprising, as he was highly recommended by Manchester City scouts before he joined the club.

Dias is a technically gifted centre-back who is comfortable passing with both feet. He is able to pass in various directions, including to teammates on his side, switching to the opposing side, or making vertical line-breaking passes. His exceptional passing range and two-footedness allow him to dictate play from the back.

2. David Alaba

David Alaba best defenders in the world 2023 BILBAO, SPAIN - AUGUST 12: David Alaba of Real Madrid looks on during the LaLiga EA Sports match between Athletic Club and Real Madrid CF at Estadio de San Mames on August 12, 2023 in Bilbao, Spain
(Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

Austrian defender David Alaba looked like he hit his peak at Bayern Munich, but apparently, he was only getting started after he moved to La Liga with Real Madrid.

The fullback can play in central defense, defensive midfield, central midfield, and even the left-wing as an attacker. Such versatility and his set-piece quality make him an asset to any team anytime, any day.

At 31, the defender has won everything in football over and over again. His quality and experience make him indispensable and the leader of the Real Madrid defense.

In addition to his defensive abilities, Alaba is renowned for his offensive capabilities and game-reading skills. He possesses a lethal left foot and has gained a reputation for carrying the ball forward in attacking plays and supplying his team with passes.

3. Lisandro Martínez

Lisandro Martínez best defenders in the world 2023 MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Lisandro Martinez of Manchester United looks on during the pre-season friendly match between Manchester United and RC Lens at Old Trafford on August 05, 2023 in Manchester, England.
(Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez is currently one of the most difficult defenders to play against thanks to, ironically, his physicality and strong tackling.

The Argentine is one of the shortest defenders in football, but he puts in a tough shift into every single game, hardly gets beaten in 1v1 situations, and was very important for Argentina at the last FIFA World Cup.

He was one of the standout performers for the Manchester United squad last season as they won the Carabao Cup; Lisandro Martinez joined Manchester United from Ajax two seasons ago.

Martínez earned the nickname “the Butcher” for his aggressive style of play, but he is much more than just a tough defender.

He is one of the top ball-playing centre-backs, as he has an exceptional range of passing and composure on the ball.

At Manchester United, his impressive performances have drawn comparisons to the legendary former United defender Nemanja Vidić. In fact, Vidić himself has praised Martínez for his winning mentality and boundless energy on the pitch.

4. Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk best defenders in the world SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - AUGUST 2: Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool FC celebrates scoring his side's goal during the pre-season friendly match between Liverpool and Bayern Muenchen at the National Stadium on August 2, 2023 in Singapore.
(Photo by Apinya Rittipo/Getty Images)

Virgil Van Djik rose through the lower leagues of football before joining the Premier League and then becoming a big team player with Liverpool.

Even though his quality has eroded to some extent, he still commands a starting shirt at Liverpool and stays as one of the best defenders in world football in 2023.

His positioning and defending in 1v1 situations stood him out, and he’s very effective in air duels and heading; he also comes up with goals for Liverpool on a couple of occasions.

Van Dijk is a right-footed centre-back with impressive physical strength. He typically plays on the left-hand side of central defence, but he is also capable of playing on the right.

Van Dijk’s skillset includes pace, excellent technique, awareness, anticipation, and a keen eye for goal, making him one of the best defenders in the world.

5. Achraf Hakimi

Achraf Hakimi best defenders in the world PARIS, FRANCE - AUGUST 12: Achraf Hakimi of Paris Saint Germain in action during the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Lorient at Parc des Princes on August 12, 2023 in Paris, France.
(Photo by Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Achraf Hakimi is a player like a mini David Alaba, not necessarily because they are both wingbacks who are versatile enough to play up front or because they are both good at set pieces, but also because Hakimi has won everything club football has to offer.

Impressively, at 24, the Moroccan has only played for the biggest sides in European football, from Real Madrid to Borussia Dortmund to Inter Milan and now Paris Saint-Germain, where he won consecutive Ligue 1 titles.

He was a huge part of the Moroccan team that got to the semi-final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and he’s a full bag of many things to come.

Hakimi is a highly skilled right-sided attacking full-back or wing-back, known for his speed, dynamism, and power.

He possesses excellent tactical and technical abilities and is capable of making long, accurate passes from the back. Although he can play as a winger, his physical presence allows him to play as a defender as well.

6. Kim Min-jae

Kim Min-jae best defenders in the world 2023 UNTERHACHING, GERMANY - AUGUST 7: Minjae Kim of Bayern Muenchen Looks on during the pre-season friendly match between FC Bayern München and AS Monaco at Sportpark Unterhaching on August 7, 2023 in Unterhaching, Germany.
(Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Kim Min-jae, in the last two seasons, has shown incredible growth and even went on to form Napoli’s backline that helped them win the Scudetto in the 2022/2023 season.

He was named Serie A Defender Of The Season after he put up a string of impressive performances for Napoli.

Unsurprisingly, he’s not stayed back at Naples beyond that single season, with Manchester United and Bayern Munich hugely interested in the Asian.

However, it was the German giants who paid a record fee for Min-Jae, who is now the most expensive Asian footballer at the moment.

Kim possesses exceptional physical attributes, including strength, speed, and flexibility. Apart from being a remarkable defender, he can also initiate attacking plays as the team advances.

His accuracy in long passes enables him to quickly start a counterattack after stealing the ball, while his outstanding aerial ability and positioning allow him to perform headers to disrupt opposing attacks and start offensive plays.

7. Ronald Araújo

Ronald Araújo best defenders in the world BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 8: Ronald Araujo of FC Barcelona during the match between Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur (Joan Gamper Trophy) at the Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium on August 8, 2023 in Barcelona Spain
(Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

If he stays consistent enough, Ronald Araujo could become Barcelona’s captain in the future thanks to his leadership from the defense, as he has already shown, despite being just 24 years old.

The Uruguayan center-back is known for his athleticism and physicality in defending.

Despite his years, he has shown defensive qualities beyond his age, helping Barcelona (alongside Koundé) concede the least number of goals (20) in La Liga last season as they won the title.

In duels to contest possession on the ground, Ronald Araujo uses his body to move opponents off the ball or into an unbalanced position, allowing him to steal the ball.

He demonstrates sound judgement by attacking his opponents on their weakest side. Additionally, Araujo is skilled at man-marking due to his proficiency in the air and ability to maneuver around opponents.

8. Jules Koundé

Jules Koundé BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 20: Jules Kounde of FC Barcelona during the LaLiga EA Sports match between FC Barcelona v Cadiz FC at the Lluis Companys Olympic Stadium on August 20, 2023 in Barcelona Spain
(Photo by David S.Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

French defender Jules Kounde joined Barcelona from Sevilla before the start of the last season in a controversial transfer, but at the end of the season, it was obvious why Barcelona were keen on getting their man.

Kounde played 29 La Liga games for Barcelona last season, but he had already shown enough to be named in the La Liga team of the season for the second time in his career.

He helped Barcelona to also win La Liga, conceding the least number of goals last season. The La Liga title win adds to the UEFA Europa League he won with Sevilla a couple of seasons back.

While Koundé’s natural position is as a right-sided central defender, his agility, athleticism, and technical abilities allow him to excel as a right-back as well. He is capable of making long and demanding runs, performing with the same level of competence as a professional full-back.

9. Kieran Trippier

Kieran Trippier NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: NU02of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa at St. James Park on August 12, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
(Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Kieran Trippier is one of the best and fastest fullbacks in football, and he is not only dangerous on the flanks, he’s also dangerous from set-pieces.

The 32-year-old has been quite the journeyman playing for a couple of teams, including Burnley, Tottenham, and Atletico Madrid, before returning to play for Newcastle United in the Premier League, where he helped them to secure a UEFA Champions League spot last season.

10. Alphonso Davies

Alphonso Davies best defenders in the world MUNICH, GERMANY - AUGUST 27: Alphonso Davies of FC Bayern Muenchen runs with the ball during the Bundesliga match between FC Bayern München and FC Augsburg at Allianz Arena on August 27, 2023 in Munich, Germany.
(Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

Bayern Munich does know how to spot young talents and then turn them into serial winners and turn their honors list to look like veterans, all at barely age 23.

In honesty, Alphonso Davies hasn’t been a player who has benefited by just being in a serial winning team like Bayern, but rather, he’s shown to be good enough to be a part of any world-class team in the world.

Davies has an exceptional pace, dribbling ability, and creativity. Just like most Bayern Munich players, he’s versatile and can play on the wings. The 22-year-old also holds a couple of individual awards and records.

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