Gone are the days when football club owners splashed the cash for a centre forward and just looked for the biggest, toughest lads to play at the back.
Defenders are a different breed now, cultured footballers who can read the game as well as anyone. They like to raid forwards, not just at corners, and they can beat a man with a nifty piece of footwork. They still have to be strong, but must also match the pace of the quickest goal scorer.
The finance men know the value of a top defender and they will pay good money to form a strong backbone in their team.
So let’s take a look at the five most expensive defenders of all time, three are in the Premier League, one is in the Bundesliga and, as you’d expect there is another in Italy’s Serie A.
Aymeric Laporte – Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City for £57m in 2018
When Pep Guardiola brought Laporte to the Etihad in 2018 he knew he was getting a world-class defender. And he’s already a huge influence on the team.
Looking back almost 12 months now, the Premier League 2020 betting odds here at SBOBET backed Manchester City for the league title, but an injury to Laporte put a serious dent in the Sky Blues’ hopes as Guardiola struggled to find a reliable centre back pairing. The City boss hadn’t really replaced club legend Vincent Kompany and Laporte’s injury amplified that fact horribly. So the Sky Blues might consider making Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez the latest most expensive defender if they can bring the Uruguayan centre back to Manchester.
Now that would be some pairing.
In the meantime, Manchester City’s 2020 target has always been the Champions League and Laporte will surely be a key man if Pep’s team is to succeed.
Matthijs de Ligt – Ajax to Juventus for £68m in 2019
At the tender age of 19 years old, de Ligt made world headlines when he moved to Juventus a year ago. He was part of the exciting Ajax team which impressed in the Champions League, evoking memories of the great ‘total football’ team of the 1970s. Still a teenager, he captained the Ajax side and Juventus were quick to splash out £68m to bring the talented centre back to Turin on a five-year deal.
De Ligt made his debut for the Netherlands at the age of 17 and has since forged the best defensive partnership in international football alongside Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.
Lucas Hernandez – Atletico Madrid to FC Bayern for £70m in 2019
World Cup winner Hernandez had the best grounding a defensive player can have, since breaking through the ranks at Atleti in 2014. Under Diego Simeone, Los Rojiblancos have consistently had the best defensive unit in European football, with players of the calibre of Gimenez and Diego Godin alongside Hernandez. And he’s developed into one of the most sought after wing-backs in world football, impressing for France in their Russia 2018 triumph, prompting FC Bayern to sign him for a club record and a Bundesliga record fee.
Virgil van Dijk – Southampton to Liverpool for £75m in 2018
Virgil van Dijk wasn’t the last piece in Jurgen Klopp’s jigsaw, but when he signed for Liverpool for a then-record fee of £75m he became the most important. The Reds had a reputation for fast breaks and attacking football but were always beatable with a suspect defence and a procession of even more suspect goal-keepers. When Alisson Becker arrived the Jigsaw was complete and Liverpool’s 30-year wait for a Premier League title finally came to an end this season, in spectacular style.
The Premier League 2020 news has been dominated by Liverpool’s charge to the title and Van Dijk has been imperious once again; he’s set to become an Anfield legend.
Harry Maguire – Leicester City to Manchester United for £80m in 2019
He’s a fine player but that Maguire is the most expensive defender of all time says more about price inflation than it does value for money. The England centre back had an excellent World Cup at Russia 2018 but was often noted more for his attacking prowess than his defensive nous. And for much of his first season at Old Trafford, he was mocked for switching from a side soaring in the top three to one struggling to challenge.
But Maguire had the last laugh when the Red Devils beat Leicester on the final game of the season to qualify for the Champions League and leave the Foxes in fifth. He’s in the prime of his career at 27 years of age and, a Manchester United fan, he’ll give his all.
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