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The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

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To illustrate the remarkable depth of talent among center-backs presently, it’s notable that several prominent figures didn’t cut. Fabian Schar, despite his stellar defensive displays for Newcastle, doesn’t find a place. Similarly, Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi is not included. Despite Aston Villa’s impressive form, neither Diego Carlos nor Pau Torres made the lineup. While Torres came close, we hesitated to rank him higher than our current number 10 until we’ve seen a bit more from him.

Ranking factors

  • Their current form—how well they’ve performed in the 2023–24 season.
  • Overall importance to their respective teams – how do their sides perform without them?
  • Success – how successful have they been at their current employers?
  • How they’ve performed in recent seasons – their 2022/23 performances, particularly.
  • Injuries – sustained periods on the sidelines were taken into account.
  • Their status among their side’s other centre-backs – where do they stand in the pecking order?
The 10 best Premier League centre-backs right now
Rank Player Team WhoScored rating – 23/24
1. Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 7.30
2. William Saliba Arsenal 6.77
3. Ruben Dias Manchester City 6.78
4. Gabriel Arsenal 7.02
5. Micky van de Ven Tottenham Hotspur 6.79
6. John Stones Manchester City 6.54
7. Ibrahima Konate Liverpool 6.86
8. Ezri Konsa Aston Villa 6.74
9. Lisandro Martinez Manchester United 6.42
10. Sven Botman Newcastle United 6.56

1. Virgil van Dijk

The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

During the 2022/23 season, a lot of fans and experts were saying that he had lost his edge and wasn’t performing like he used to. But this time around, Van Dijk seems to have come back stronger than ever, proving time and again why he’s considered one of the top defenders globally, not just in the Premier League. His impact on Liverpool since he joined them is huge, and his defensive prowess in the 2023/24 season has played a significant role in putting Jurgen Klopp’s team back in contention for the title this year.

In a season that has been marred by injury woes, the Dutchman has been ever-present in the heart of the Reds back line, winning all but every aerial duel and contesting every ball on the deck. Given the performances he has consistently put in over multiple years – most recently in the League Cup final against Chelsea – the trophies he’s won, and what he brings to the club, he is certainly the best defender in the league right now.

Virgil van Dijk – 23/24 Statistics
Metric Output
Appearances 24
Pass success rate (%) 90.5
Aerials won per game 4.5
Tackles and interceptions per game 2.3
Clearances per game 4.4
Overall rating 7.30

2. William Saliba

The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

Making a breakthrough into Arsenal’s top squad during the 2022/23 season, Saliba’s ascent from a promising youngster to one of the world’s finest defenders caught many by surprise. Yet, that’s precisely what unfolded. The young Frenchman emerged as a standout performer during Arsenal’s push for the title, earning a well-deserved spot in the PFA Team of the Year due to his commanding displays.

It speaks volumes that Arsenal’s hopes for the Premier League title dwindled when Saliba was sidelined by injury. However, he has made a remarkable comeback and reclaimed his spot in the starting lineup, appearing even stronger than before. His ability to shut down players like Erling Haaland in every game is truly impressive. While many wouldn’t argue against him being hailed as the best, given Van Dijk’s consistent excellence over the years, perhaps it’s prudent to reserve judgment for now.

William Saliba – 23/24 Statistics
Metric Output
Appearances 26
Pass success rate (%) 92.5
Aerials won per game 2
Tackles and interceptions per game 1.8
Clearances per game 2
Overall rating 6.77

3. Ruben Dias

The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

Ruben Dias, a cornerstone for Manchester City, has rightfully earned his reputation as a defensive powerhouse, ranking among the best in his position globally. Known for his fearless tackles, adept passing skills, and leadership on the field, he perfectly embodies Pep Guardiola’s style of play, solidifying his status as a top-tier defender.

Admittedly, Dias hasn’t been in peak form this season. However, dismissing his brilliance would be shortsighted. His recent foul on Armando Broja, resulting in a penalty against Chelsea, and a mistake leading to a goal against RB Leipzig in the Champions League have raised concerns. Consequently, he’s slipped to third place in our rankings, behind our top two performers. Nonetheless, we remain confident in Dias’s ability to bounce back and reclaim his spot among the elite.

Ruben Dias – 23/24 Statistics
Metric Output
Appearances 20(2)
Pass success rate (%) 93.8
Aerials won per game 1.4
Tackles and interceptions per game 2.2
Clearances per game 3
Overall rating 6.78

4. Gabriel

The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

Gabriel, the stalwart defender from Brazil, embodies the ideal combination of strength, aggression, and technical skill for Arsenal. His standout performances last season, particularly alongside Saliba in defense, solidified his importance to the team. Despite early rumors of departure at the start of the 2023/24 season, he has since proven himself as a vital fixture in the Gunners’ lineup.

Having made 24 appearances, Gabriel’s impact on Arsenal’s performance is undeniable. His average of 2.3 clearances per game in the Premier League tops the charts within the Arsenal squad. At 26, he demonstrates remarkable command in aerial battles, adding a formidable presence to Arsenal’s core. Not only does he excel in defense, but his ability to score, with four goals last season, underscores his versatility and eye for opportunity in attack.

Gabriel – 23/24 Statistics
Metric Output
Appearances 22(2)
Pass success rate (%) 88.7
Aerials won per game 2.4
Tackles and interceptions per game 2.2
Clearances per game 2.3
Overall rating 7.02

5. Micky van de Ven

The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

Despite being sidelined for a significant portion of the current season due to injury, Micky van de Ven has made a significant impact since joining under Ange Postecoglou. Particularly early on, Tottenham Hotspur’s improved results were not just due to their attacking prowess but also owed much to their strengthened defense, largely thanks to Van de Ven’s blend of speed, strength, and tactical acumen.

Moreover, his adept passing abilities further enhance his value. As the fastest player in the Premier League on record, Postecoglou can confidently deploy his high-risk, high-reward system with Van de Ven at the heart of it. However, his absence raises concerns about the team’s overall quality and defensive stability.

Micky van Ven – 23/24 Statistics
Metric Output
Appearances 16
Pass success rate (%) 95.3
Aerials won per game 1.4
Tackles and interceptions per game 2.5
Clearances per game 3
Overall rating 6.79

6. John Stones

The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

John Stones really stepped up for Pep Guardiola last season, pulling off some incredible moves by slipping into a midfield role. His performance was so stellar that he earned himself the nickname ‘the Barnsley Beckenbauer,’ a nod to his solid play at the core of Man City’s squad during their treble triumph.

It’s worth noting how unique his contribution was; not many players could have filled that role as effectively. What’s even more remarkable is how close he came to leaving the club back in 2020, as reported by The Guardian. Despite facing setbacks like injuries that sidelined him for a chunk of this season, it’s tough not to appreciate his evolution into one of the top centre-backs in the league. However, given his recent injury struggles, it’s hard to rank him any higher, especially when you consider the outstanding performances of other players mentioned.

John Stones – 23/24 Statistics
Metric Output
Appearances 9(3)
Pass success rate (%) 94.3
Aerials won per game 0.9
Tackles and interceptions per game 0.9
Clearances per game 1.4
Overall rating 6.54

7. Ibrahima Konate

The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

Van Dijk’s commanding presence tends to steal the spotlight, but let’s not forget about his partner, Ibrahima Konate, whose brilliance often flies under the radar. Konate, considered one of Klopp’s best finds, boasts not only impressive skills on the ball but also towering stature at 194cm. He’s a force to be reckoned with in the air, and attackers think twice before trying to take him on one-on-one.

A great all-rounder for the Merseyside-based outfit, he’s undoubtedly a big presence, whether that’s off-field or while playing – and hence why his importance cannot be quantified. Aged 24, Konate is set to be a key player for the club in years to come – even when Klopp does depart at the end of the season. That’s how good he is.

Ibrahima Konate – 23/24 Statistics
Metric Output
Appearances 13(5)
Pass success rate (%) 87.8
Aerials won per game 3.2
Tackles and interceptions per game 2.3
Clearances per game 2.4
Overall rating 6.86

8. Ezri Konsa

The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

Unai Emery’s impact at Aston Villa has been truly remarkable, to say the least. However, the start of the season hit a rough patch when Tyrone Mings suffered an ACL injury in their opening game. Thankfully, Ezri Konsa, who has his eyes set on Euro 2024, has risen admirably to fill Mings’ shoes.

Konsa, hailing from London, shines brightest when controlling the ball, evident from his impressive 92.6% pass success rate. His versatility adds another dimension to his game, as he’s proven himself capable on the right side of Villa’s defense. Throughout the 23/24 season, Konsa has become indispensable for Emery, ranking fifth in terms of domestic minutes played for the club.

Ezri Konsa – 23/24 Statistics
Metric Output
Appearances 23
Pass success rate (%) 92.6
Aerials won per game 0.9
Tackles and interceptions per game 2.5
Clearances per game 2
Overall rating 6.74

9. Lisandro Martinez

The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

Don’t misunderstand us, Lisandro Martinez definitely deserves a higher ranking than ninth on this list when he’s in top form and fully fit – but that’s where the issue lies. However, we have to consider current form when compiling the top 10, and unfortunately, Martinez has only managed to play 184 minutes in the Premier League before getting sidelined with another injury.

Nevertheless, when he’s on the pitch, he’s an outstanding tackler. In fact, only four players from United had more tackles and interceptions combined than him (87) during the 2022/23 season. Plus, he’s quite adept at distributing accurate passes across the field, as evidenced by his impressive 93.6% pass completion rate in the limited time he’s had this season. All in all, Martinez is a top-notch defender who’s also skilled at playing the ball.

Lisandro Martinez – 23/24 Statistics
Metric Output
Appearances 7(1)
Pass success rate (%) 93.6
Aerials won per game 0.4
Tackles and interceptions per game 1.9
Clearances per game 2.3
Overall rating 6.42

10. Sven Botman

The 10 Best Premier League Centre-Backs Right Now

Despite missing a significant portion of the season due to injury, Sven Botman from Newcastle still manages to crack into the top 10. In his debut season in English football, the Dutch player seamlessly integrated into Newcastle’s defensive lineup, forming a strong partnership with Schar that helped steer Newcastle towards a Champions League spot.

Although Botman only played six games for the Magpies before getting injured in September, he recently made a comeback, coming off the bench in a triumphant 3-0 victory against Fulham. With stats like 38 tackles and 120 clearances from the previous season, it’s just a matter of time before the 23-year-old bounces back to his peak performance. And surely, it’s only a matter of time before he earns his first cap for the Netherlands national team.

Sven Botman – 23/24 Statistics
Metric Output
Appearances 13(2)
Pass success rate (%) 90.6
Aerials won per game 1.9
Tackles and interceptions per game 1.7
Clearances per game 3.5
Overall rating 6.56
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