TOP 5 best centre-backs this year (2022)

Centre-backs are often overlooked when discussing the best footballers. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that they’re not extensively involved with the glamorous side of the game, like scoring goals or playmaking. But top centre-backs can quite often be the difference between a good team and a great one.

It’s a position that requires a great deal of mental fortitude and intelligence in addition to physicality. It’s hard to judge or rank centre-backs because their functions differ with respect to the system that they play in.

Gone are the days when their main goal was to jockey attackers and make bone-crushing tackles. With more teams adopting an expansive brand of football, centre-backs are now required to be adept in possession as well.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the five best centre-backs of 2022.

#5 Milan Skriniar (Slovakia/Inter Milan)

FC Internazionale v US Salernitana - Serie A
FC Internazionale v US Salernitana – Serie A

Milan Skriniar has steadily improved since joining Inter Milan from Sampdoria in 2017 and has established himself as one of the best in the business. He played a pivotal role in the Nerazzurri’s Serie A triumph in the 2020-21 season.

Skriniar possesses an excellent reading of the game and is adept at sniffing out danger. The Slovakia international is also a very good passer of the ball and is a pretty solid modern centre-back.

The 27-year-old hasn’t been at his very best this term but given his quality, it’s only a matter of time before he returns to top form.

#4 Ruben Dias (Portugal/Manchester City)

Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion – Premier League

Ruben Dias took to life in the Premier League like a fish to water. He arrived at Manchester City in 2020 and won the FWA Footballer of the Year, Manchester City Player of the Year, Premier League Player of the Season in his debut campaign.

The Portuguese centre-back has only gone from strength to strength since. The 25-year-old’s leadership skills and technical qualities make him one of the the game. Dias’ dominant displays in defense was critical to Manchester City’s triumphant Premier League campaign in the 2021-22 season.

He is likely to have a long career at Manchester City and cement his status as a legend in the blue side of the city.

#3 Antonio Rudiger (Germany/Real Madrid)

Real Madrid v RB Leipzig: Group F - UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid v RB Leipzig: Group F – UEFA Champions League

Antonio Rudiger’s revival has simply been incredible to follow. After falling out of favor at Chelsea during Frank Lampard’s reign, Rudiger became one of the Blues’ most influential players under their next coach Thomas Tuchel.

Rudiger is a warrior-like centre-back who can keep pace with the fastest forwards in the game. He is also widely regarded for his ability to bring his A-game to big matches. The Germany international loves bombing forwards and is quite proficient at playing line-breaking passes as well.

Rudiger joined Real Madrid in the summer and has been in decent form in the first half of the ongoing season.

#2 Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands/Liverpool)

Everton FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Everton FC v Liverpool FC – Premier League

Virgil van Dijk is a nightmare to come up against for attackers. Van Dijk is a physically imposing defender with a tall frame and he is hardly a gentle giant. He is blessed with pace and plenty of game intelligence. Van Dijk is also a wonderful passer and excels at playing progressive balls to his teammates.

The Netherlands international is a leader at the back for club and country. His form and ability to marshall his troops went a long way towards helping Liverpool garner the kind of success they have had in recent years under Jurgen Klopp. He has a strong aerial presence and is a huge threat from set-pieces.

However, a few injury issues have definitely caused his stock to dip in recent seasons. But despite that, he continues to be a monster at the back for Liverpool and the Netherlands national team.

#1 David Alaba (Austria/Real Madrid)

Real Madrid v RB Leipzig: Group F - UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid v RB Leipzig: Group F – UEFA Champions League

David Alaba is one of the most versatile players of his generation. He can play at centre-back, left-back, left-wing and even as a midfielder. Having started out as a left-back, Alaba is blessed with exquisite technical qualities that have helped him transition into one of the most dynamic centre-backs of the modern era.

The Austria international was an extremely dependable presence at the back for Real Madrid as they won the La Liga and Champions League titles last season. He has started the 2022-23 season strongly as well.

Not only is Alaba a brick wall in defense, but he also doubles up as a goal threat from set-pieces. By virtue of his exquisite passing, he is able to progress the ball quickly and also carve out chances for his teammates.

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