Needless to say, in a football world dominated by forwards and attacking players, defenders are sometimes left unacknowledged for their invaluable contributions.
After all, this breed is rather infamous for doing the dirty work at the back, clattering the highly-fancied forwards, thwarting the stupendous goals and imperiling players’ careers with life-threatening tackles. What’s the need of honoring such goons
Well, that is because these players are imperative to their team’s success just like the hero-worshipped strikers. This might not be the case in the eyes of a number of spectators but you do discern their sway by putting yourself in their managers’ shoes.
This was perfectly summed up by Sir Alex Ferguson’s noteworthy quote:
“Attack wins you games, defense wins you titles.”
On that note, let us take a look at the top 7 most valuable defenders in world football presently.
Market values for a particular player are calculated by how well they play, age, their marketability, contract length and ability to sell shirts.
7 Mats Hummels – €60 million
Over the course of the past few years, Mats Hummels has established himself as one of the best center-backs in world football by virtue of his consistent performances for Bayern Munich and his former club – Borussia Dortmund.
In the 2017-18 season, Hummels was tasked with a much tougher role owing to the absence of Bayern talismanic goalkeeper – Manuel Neuer, who was ruled out because of a broken foot in mid-September.
Nevertheless, the German international was not fazed and managed the role to perfection. Apart from his ball playing ability, technical intelligence, confidence in possession and mental composure, the 29-year-old is also a potential goal-threat from set-pieces due to his strength in air.
#6 Marcelo – €60 million
Brazilian left-back has invariably been an instrumental figure in Real Madrid’s success in the years gone by.
Despite being a defender, Marcelo is an ‘attacking-minded’ player who can find crucial breakthroughs for his team and whip in assists when they are in dire need of a goal, a quality that has also placed him in the firing line by reason of defensive ineffectiveness
In the recently-concluded season, the 30-year-old notched up 5 goals and engineered 11 assists for Los Blancos, which are some staggering numbers for a defender.
Jordi Alba – €60 million
Under the tutelage of Ernesto Valverde, Jordi Alba has been given a new lease of life after he was left out of favor with Luis Enrique switching to a 3-man defence.
The Spaniard has developed a healthy relationship with the Argentine megastar – Lionel Messi, which has largely helped Barcelona find success in Europe.
With a trustworthy rearguard at the back and Neymar’s exit from La Blaugrana, Jordi Alba has been allowed to make marauding runs more often than before, enabling him to register 3 goals and 11 assists in the 2017-18 season.
4 Kalidou Koulibaly – €60 million
Kalidou Koulibaly has shot to fame of late, courtesy of his sensational performances in the last season for Napoli.
Other than the Senegalese, many other Napoli players have also caught the eye of high-profile clubs in view of The Blues’ stellar Serie A campaign where they fell just short of beating Juventus to their seventh consecutive Scudetto title.
One of the most sought-after defenders in the ongoing transfer market, the 27-year-old is a versatile, Swiss Army knife of a defender who has earned plaudits for his tactical intellect, anticipation, aerial prowess and passing ability, which had allowed him to excel at Maurizio Sarri’s possession-based system.
Although Senegal failed to qualify for the knockout stages in the World Cup, Koulibaly still impressed the spectators with his undeniable talent and was one of the best performers for The Lions of Teranga.
Dani Carvajal – €60 million
Dani Carvajal will go down in history as one of the most stout-hearted footballers thanks to the way he made a comeback after suffering a heart disease last season which could potentially have ended his career.
The Spaniard has merchandised himself as an epitome of a modern day full-back in the world via his showings for Los Blancos in the past couple of seasons.
Carvajal is not only a menacing presence for the opposition at the right flank due to his superb defending but he can also brilliantly link up with his teammates further forward, sending in crosses and inch-perfect passes to help the attacking unit up front.
Samuel Umtiti – €70 million
The Frenchman was also particularly splendid in France’s World Cup triumph, where he also scored a climacteric goal against Belgium in the semi-final of the tournament which proved to be the difference at the end of the match.
Umtiti has an immaculate sense of timing his tackles to a T and his game comprehension and technique has been further enhanced under the part-father-figure of Ernesto Valverde.
Before penning a new contract with Barcelona, when his future at Camp Nou was still up in the air, the 24-year-old attracted a host of top-notch suitors craving for his signature, which just goes on to manifest his self-evident finesse.
1 Raphaël Varane – €80 million
In the World Cup 2018, Varane was the most unsung hero for the French national team in all likelihood and another chief cause why France’s journey in the Mundial appeared so taxing yet so seamless.
The 25-year-old was a decisive brick wall in France’s rearguard who exuded such immense confidence, phlegm and grit of a grizzled ol’ veteran that it reminded you of Shakespeare’s ever-excellent excerpt:
I beseech you, let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend estimation, for I never knew so young a body with so old a head.
With Varane only 25 years old and at the peak of his powers, Real Madrid might find it hard to hold on to their starlet in the coming years