Centre-back in the ever-competitive football world are like gold, especially with the huge obsession of managers wanting to have a ball playing defenders in their team.
The act of defending has been a role that doesn’t only requires exceptional understanding of the game, but also requires mental, physical, and the ability to lead as a leader.
The first duty call of a centre-back is to combine their football value about the game with rugged marking, astute observation and willingness to give opponents a warning kick when required, which perhaps is the traits of a true centre-back.
Europe’s top leagues are littered with uncompromising centre-backs and ruthless ball winners, who could give any manager enough confidence in their defence anytime any day to withstand opponents threat when it matters most.
Today, we’ll look at the top 5 most wanted Europe’s centre-backs.
There is a race all around Europe for quality centre defenders, and with clubs not ready to let go of their world-class defenders, except the buying club is ready to break the bank for their target.
Looking at the consistency of all the players that will be mention in this piece, you would agree that they are five of the most wanted centre defenders, who without a doubt would improve the defensive department of any top club.
- Kalidou Koulibaly – (Senegal, Napoli)
When the media asked the President of Napoli, De Laurentiis, is Koulibaly leaving? He replied: “Ask Manchester United, City, Bayern Munich“, which to some extent means that any club who is ready to doll out the €100m price tag of the Senegalese defender would have him.
Meanwhile, Aurelio De Laurentiis has also said in the past that Koulibaly would only leave if an offer of €100m comes in, which also gives credence to Radio Punto Nuevo, quote “Without a great offer he does not move” words of De Laurentiis.
Koulibaly played over 27 games and created four chances in the Seria A last season. He played a total of 2109 minutes and conceded an average of 1.41 goals per every 90 minutes on the pitch. He also had a total clean sheet of 20% in 5 matches out of the total matches he played for Napoli.
The Senegalese defender has been a long time transfer target for some of the biggest club in Europe in recent time, with his name always mentioned in the media it’s a testament to how fantastic the Napoli man has fared in the world of football.
Koulibaly has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester City respectively. As it stands, it’s looking like the Senegalese would be heading to the Etihad Stadium, but then let wait and see how things turn out.
- Gabriel Magalhaes – (Brasil, Lille/Arsenal)
Arteta led Arsenal have beaten off competitors vying to sign the Brazilian centre-back, by snapping him up from Ligue 1 side for a transfer fee reported to be around £25m.
The Lille OSC centre-back has always been a regular name in the transfer news for some seasons now, because of how fantastic he’s been playing.
French football expert ‘Jonathan Johnson’ opined that if the Gunners completes the signing of Gabriel, he would form a long term defensive partnership with William Saliba. Johnson also went further by saying
“it would be a partnership of two very good promising centre defensive talents, and a partnership which could serve the Gunners for a long time defensively.
The Brazilian has proved to be a very talented defender over the year with Lille OSC. Showing his physicality in the air, good techniques on the ball, and has a defensive skill set which made him a prime target for a number of club, which in the end the Gunners were able to secure his signature.
- Dayot Upamecano – (France, RB Leipzig)
Without mincing words, Upamencano was RB Leipzig second best player for the 2019-20 campaign behind Timo Werner. The centre-back played over 28 matches last season for Leipzig, playing a total of 2359 minutes, conceding an average of 1.03 goals for every 90 minutes he played on the pitch. He also has a total of 28% clean-sheet ratio in 8 matches out of 28 matches appeared in.
With all of this stats about the Leipzig man, it shows the reason why he’s been one of the finest defenders in Europe and a talent top club would dream to have in their rank. He did prove how commanding and organized he could be in defence, with his five-star performances in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid keeping the troublesome Diego Costa at bay.
If reports in the media were anything to go by, the Leipzig centre-back could be heading to the red side of Manchester.
However, getting him might be a tough call for the Red Devils, considering the fact of the huge price tag on him. Other top clubs might also be looking to snap him up.
READ ALSO: Top Ten African Defenders As At 2016-2019
- Jose Gimenez – (Uruguay, Atletico Madrid)
The Uruguayan defender has always been a prime target in the transfer market for some seasons now since the club captain and fellow countrymen Diego Godin and Miranda left the Rojiblancos. He’s been one of the go-to men defensively with Savic for Diego Simeone led side.
Sometimes in July, the Atletico Madrid defender expressed his admiration for Chelsea’s new gaffer Frank Lampard when he was linked with the London giant, following Chelsea’s season marred by woeful defence errors.
Without a doubt, if the Blues were able to get him, he would prove a solid and fantastic addition.
But with the arrival of Thiago Silva, the Uruguayan centre back might not see himself playing for Chelsea at least for now.
Gimenez played a total of 27 games both in the League and cup games, playing a total of 1753 minutes and conceding an average goal of 0.56 per every 90 minutes on the pitch. Gimenez also averages a clean sheet of 52%, keeping a clean sheet of 11 matches out of the 21 La Liga games he played. If he continues with his blistering form, its just a matter of time before top clubs come strongly for his service.
- Milan Skriniar – (Slovakia, Inter Milan)
The Slovakian centre-back has been the number one beneficiaries of Antonio Conte’s revolutionary approach since he took up the reign of the blue and black part of Milan. Skriniar has established himself as one of the world finest defenders season in, season out, as such he has always been in the news as one of the most wanted centre-backs in Europe.
Throughout the 2019-20 campaign, the Inter Milan centre back forged a formidable defensive partnership with former Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin and De Vrij.
Skriniar appeared in 32 matches last season in Seria A, playing a total of 2628 minutes and conceding an average of 0.99 goals in 90 minutes per match. Keeping a clean sheet of 34% in 11 matches out of the 32 he featured in.
Clubs such as Real Madrid and other top teams in Europe are definitely monitoring the situation of the Slovakian, most especially with Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos gradually whining down.
If Florentino Perez looks in his direction, he might be the ideal replacement for the Spaniard.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.
Top 10 Football Dribblers Of All Time
The beautiful game of football is arguably the only sport that entertains its fans with the opportunity to witness a genuine instance of sheer genius with a series of beautiful nutmegs. The display of skills, footwork, eye-catching dribbles by different players makes the game more entertaining.
A lot of players around the world can dribble, go past a defender with a single flick and pace. However, good dribblers can be considered as one of the most important key players of a team, as they can unlock any kind of defense.
There are tons of Football dribblers, but only the best have made it onto the CheapGoals list.
10. Roberto Rivelino
Rivelino’s magic with the ball was unbelievable, doing things nobody ever has or will do on a football pitch, and also had a quality of certainty about himself when he was on the ball.
He would not only wind past his opponents but also mortify them and smash defenders’ confidence. Sudden speeding up, various body bluffs would see him outfox defenders on numerous occasions, as some would say Garrincha made the ball talk to his feet.
Other than being authoritatively one of the best footballers to ever graced the beautiful game and lived with three World Cup medals, this iconic Brazilian player was incredible at dribbling. Being able to control the ball in front of defenders and going past them with ease and confidence is something an aspiring footballer would dream of.
8. George Best
Undoubtedly one of England’s greatest players, having scored 137 goals in 361 appearances for Manchester United in a career that spread over more than a decade for the Red Devils. He had the confidence to make use of the ball within and outside of his boot so well that he could cut around players quickly and easily.
De Lima is known for dribbling past defenders and after that going ahead to score a goal. only a few players have aced the popular ‘step over’ dribble as Ronaldo always proved to be a match-winner time over time with his solo dribbles.
6. Johan Cruyff
One of Cruyff’s best abilities was that he had the ability to recognize any weakness and shortcoming in a defender. Like De-lima, he had a move named after him called “The Cruyff Turn”. It would appear as though he was passing the ball to a teammate but instead to kick the ball, he would turn 90 degrees and drag the ball within his foot behind his back leg. This sudden 90-degree move always left the opponent over to the cleaners.
Talking about football dribblers, Garrincha compared to Pele was generally viewed as the best dribbler ever. His extraordinary speed combined with his stunning ball control always leaves defenders powerless, and unfit to deal with his mesmerizing dribbles. At just 5ft 6inches Garrincha’s low center of gravity helped him weave around opponents effortlessly.
4. Diego Maradona
Maradona uses a style of dribbling called “Gambetta” in which he would use his body position to trick into going the wrong way.
Maradona is an impudent, supreme football dribbler – who uses his small stature to make an extraordinary impact which made him one of the best dribblers in football. His strength and control made it difficult to knock him off the ball.
Considered by many as a standout amongst one of the most skillful players in football, he was commended for his abilities and inventiveness. only if his prime had lasted longer, he may very well have been crowned with Ballon d’Or but Okocha is one of the best football dribblers. Be that as it may, it always a joy to watch the Nigerian dazzle on the football pitch.
The former PSG forward and Brazil legend came into the limelight amid his time with Barcelona scoring 70 goals in 145 caps for the club. Dinho brought his mesmerizing pattern of football from the streets of Brazil onto the world stage, and defenders couldn’t deal with his skills and frills.
Every little thing about him appeared to be so superb. From his sly bluffs to his sudden change in increasing speed, all that he did was accompanied by a smile all over his face. His most popular trick was ‘Snake Bite’ where he would trick defenders by pushing the ball sideways, however, all of a sudden pulling the ball back the other way. He is considered one of the best football dribblers.
Having for all intents and purposes wins everything minus a World Cup, the four-time Balon d’Or winner is magnificently unstoppable on his day. The Barcelona forward has scored lots of stunning goals, beating three, four, even five players before firing it in the back of the net.
Mathias Sindelar, Zinedine Zidane, Micheal Laudrup, Adama Toure, Magico Gonzalez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr, Ariel Ortega, Eden Hazard,Dennis Bergkamp.
This is CheapGoal’s top 10 football dribblers, if any of our loving readers feel otherwise or have their preferred special list, pls don’t hesitate to drop and comment…