The best centre backs in the world become more and more attacking as time goes by. Most of them, like David Luiz, Javi Martinez and Mats Hummels, are just as adept as playing as defensive midfielders. Others, like Sergio Ramos and Giorgio Chiellini, have the pace and the attacking ability to play on the flanks as full backs. Nonetheless, along with Thiago Silva and Vincent Kompany, they are the best Central defenders in the world heading into 2013.
David Luiz, Chelsea & Brazil
Sometimes, being a central defender doesn’t mean just remaining in your own half and being a stopper 100% of the time. Sometimes it’s about the ability to push the team forward and the ability to free up midfielders by building play on your own. Add to that a fantastic long range shooting capability and a very strong heading game, and you’ll understand why Luiz is one of the best centre backs in the game today. His tendency to venture forward does catch him out of position at times, so there’s still plenty to work on.
Thiago Silva, PSG & Brazil
The main reason PSG have conceded less goals than in anyone in France (12 in 19 matches) is due to the fact that Thiago Silva has done adapting. He missed the early matches this season due to injury, but since he’s gotten used to the new team and the new league, PSG haven’t conceded a goal in five of their last six league matches. Silva is another modern centre back with excellent technique but it seems he become more responsible and a bit less adventurous in his decision making over the last couple of seasons.
Javi Martinez, Bayern Munich & Spain
In the midfield, Javi Martinez is very good. When he’s at centre back, he’s excellent. There are better passers and dribblers than Martinez to occupy the central midfield position for both Bayern and other teams, not to mention the Spanish national side. When Martinez becomes a centre back he’s simply a better more useful player, who can also be excellent as the link up between the defense and midfield, changing his colors from CB to DM within the match.
Vincent Kompany, Manchester City & Belgium
Something happened this season to Manchester City and Vincent Kompany. His decision making isn’t as impeccable as it was last season, and he suddenly isn’t as unbeatable as he was during the title run. That doesn’t turn him into rubbish all of a sudden. At 26, with City going through a lot of problems mostly in their defensive midfield, the toll it takes on a defensive unit and how it makes a central defender look is quite big. Kompany is still an excellent back. He just needs Roberto Mancini to figure out a system that can both aid the defense and create goals, like it did so well last season.
Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid & Spain
Ramos has completed his transfer from full back to central defender this season. He actually started his career that way, but during his younger days, he wasn’t as adept and efficient in it as he is today. Ramos is very dangerous as an attacking defender with improved crossing, his sheer physical presence and obviously his heading ability. Real Madrid have had problems with set pieces this season, but the fault falls equally between Ramos, Pepe, Iker Casillas and others.
Mats Hummels, Dortumnd & Germany
Forever Hummels will be the player Bayern Munich gave up on, later becoming one of the key members in the resurgence of Dortmund to the top of German football and possibly European football as well. Hummels is another one of those centre backs who enjoys leaving the back four to build attacks for his team, while relying on his strength and excellent pace to make up for being caught out of position at times.
Giorgio Chiellini, Juventus & Italy
Juventus are going to miss the best of their three centre backs after he picked up a recent injury, but Chiellini, along with the players alongside him, not to mention the goalkeeper behind him, is the main reason Juventus have the best defense in Europe these days. Chiellini, like all great central defenders these days, is a multiple position player and can do very well as a left back and loves to venture forward and get involved in the build up, but there are player who do that better than him. When it comes to marking, tackling and aerial ability probably none are better on most days.