Juventus might have as strong a grip on Serie A as ever, but if there’s one thing that title contenders Napoli can lay claim to is that they have the best centre back in Italy’s top division. Kalidou Koulibaly is a force of nature. The 28-year-old Senegal defender has been with Napoli for five years now and he’s a firm fan-favourite in one of the most football-mad regions of the country.
Nicknamed ‘The Wall’ by Napoli fans, Koulibaly is an aggressive, physical player with ridiculous power and strength. He’s also technically excellent. Perennially linked to the biggest teams on the continent, Koulibaly seems happy to remain an icon with Gli Azzuri, who he has helped to a Superoppa Italia. He’s even been made an honorary citizen of Naples.
It is extraordinary that Aymeric Laporte has never been capped by France. Manchester City’s best defender might not have the same charisma or fanatic fanbase as Virgil Van Dijk, but he’s of equal importance to his side. A left-sided centre half, Laporte is remarkably composed on the ball and calm in possession.
The Frenchman is a powerful presence, able to carry the ball forward from the back. He’s also versatile, occasionally filling in at left-back. A key cog in Manchester City’s 2018-19 treble-winning side, there’s no doubt that Laporte is up there with the very best in the world right now. Just tell Didier Deschamps that now.
Could anybody else be on top of this list? Virgil Van Dijk is without a shadow of a doubt the best central defender on the planet right now. Blessed with supreme physical gifts, the Dutchman is a commanding and charismatic presence at the heart of Liverpool’s defence. He leads from the back, getting his head to every ball and rarely letting anybody past him.
In 2019, Van Dijk won UEFA’s Men’s Player of the Year award, after an extraordinary season with the Reds saw them win the Champion’s League. The signing of Van Dijk in January 2018 coincided with an extraordinary upturn in results. Liverpool’s previously shambolic defence was the best in Europe last term, thanks to the former Southampton and Celtic man. According to Troy Deeney he even smells good.