Who is the best center back in the Premier League?
The Premier League will get underway on August 5th this year.
Manchester City will head into the competition looking to defend their crown yet again.
However, City will face some stiff competition from Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and potentially Chelsea.
Whichever team does lift the Premier League this time around will, of course, need a solid backline.
Man City won the 2021/22 campaign boasting the best joint-best defensive record.
And, at the heart of any good backline is at least one top-quality central defender. But who is currently the best stopper in the English top-flight?
101 take a look at the 10 best currently plying their trade in the Premier League ahead of the season getting underway.
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10. James Tarkowski, Everton
A somewhat rogue pick but James Tarkowski has crept onto this list due to several other centre-backs leaving the Premier League in the summer window.
Regardless, Tarkowski, who has now swapped Burnley for Everton, had a solid 2021/22 in which he was Burnley’s best player.
The stopper also blocked the most shots and made the most clearances in the Premier League last term.
9. Marc Guehi, Crystal Palace
Marc Guehi has just one season of top flight football under his belt. However, in that campaign, he showcased that he has all the abilities required of a top, modern-day centre-back.
The Englishman is strong, fast, agile and excellent with the ball at his feet. Guehi would also rank 13th in the PL for most progressive distance carries, showing how crucial he was to starting Palace attacks.
Guehi was also instrumental in helping Palace keep the 7thBest defensive record last term behind only the top four, Wolves and Brighton.
He even earned a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad following an impressive 2021/22.
8. Ben White, Arsenal
Barring a horrendous opening few matches of the campaign, Ben White had a very good debut season at Arsenal.
The centre-back did look pretty weak in the air during his first few games for the Gunners, but whilst he is not the strongest in that area, White certainly improved over the course of the campaign.
The Englishman’s main strength, though, is his ability on the ball, both in his passing and in his ability to carry the ball from deep.
7. Kurt Zouma, West Ham
Kurt Zouma was one of West Ham’s standout stars during 2021/22, though his off-field actions did mar what was a good campaign.
The Frenchman was instrumental in the Hammers picking up some huge wins over the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea. And when he was out injured midway through the campaign, West Ham’s form suffered.
6. Thiago Silva, Chelsea
Thiago Silva, who will turn 38 in September, is aging like a fine wine. The centre-back has lost a yard of pace, but that is hidden fairly well in Chelsea’s back-three.
Outside of that, Silva has one of the best footballing brains in the division right now, reading situations well to cut out a pass/make a tackle.
And whilst he may not be the fastest, Silva ranked third in the Premier League for progressive distance in the league this season, with two players higher on this list the only people to carry the ball further than the Brazilian.
5. Cristian Romero, Tottenham
Pace, power, a very aggressive tackle, Cristian Romero is a joy to watch and was by far and away Tottenham’s best centre-back in 2021/22.
The Argentine’s ability to carry the ball from deep and the confidence he shows when stepping out from the back to win the ball is very impressive and would lead to many Spurs chances being created last season.
One of the best examples of this came in May when Tottenham saw off Leicester City. Romero stepped out of the defensive line to make two tackles, which led to Dejan Kulusevski receiving the ball and then setting up Heung-min Son.
4. Joel Matip, Liverpool
Like Thiago Silva, Joel Matip only appears to be getting better with age.
The African has firmly cemented himself as Virgil van Dijk’s partner despite increased competition from Ibrahima Konate.
And whilst Matip does lack the pace of Konate, his passing ability during the 2021/22 campaign was unmatched.
Matip managed nine goal-creating actions in the league last season, which was the most of any centre-back in the division and more than the likes of Jadon Sancho, Jorginho and Jack Grealish.
The stopper also ranked second for progressive distance carries with 7547 yards.
3. Aymeric Laporte, Manchester City
Aymeric Laporte continues to excel as the best left-footed centre-back in the Premier League.
The Spaniard is great on the ball, had the most progressive carries of anyone in the top-flight last term and made countless quality tackles and blocks to deny goal-scoring chances.
Most passes per 90 or centre-backs in the Premier League last season (10+ apps):
1⃣ Aymeric Laporte – 92.7
2⃣ Thiago Silva – 89.0
3⃣ Reuben Dias – 84.9
4⃣ – .
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 8, 2022
2. Ruben Dias, Manchester City
Dias’ 2021/22 was not quite as spectacular as his debut campaign in England. However, the Portuguese continues to prove he is one of the world’s best in his position.
Dias is one of the calmest, most composed centre-backs in the world, capable of stopping any and all attackers.
He helped Manchester City keep the joint-most clean sheets in the Premier League in 2021/22 as well.
1. Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool
The number one spot, though, does have to go to Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.
Though Liverpool failed to win the Premier League, they did match Man City in clean sheets and goals conceded.
And a big reason for that was Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman makes defending look effortless but it will be interesting to see how he copes with Erling Haaland in 2022/23.
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