Best Premier League Defenders

The Premier League has witnessed some of the hardest tackling, toughest and most technically gifted defenders in history.

In this blog we look at the best defenders currently playing in the Premier League.

What is a football defender?

A defender is a football player whose main duty is to stop the opposition team from scoring. This means a defender spends most of their time marking opposition forwards, putting in tackles, winning the ball in the air and clearing crosses.

There are typically three main positions a defender can play – centre back, left back and right back. Our list includes the best , and Premier League right backs.

Defenders can also prove vital in attack too, whether it be as an aerial threat in the opposition box, on the overlap down the wings or as the starting point for launching counter attacks.

Who is the best defender in the Premier League?

10 – Reece James

Club: Chelsea

Seasons in Premier League: 4

Appearances: 86

Clean sheets: 19

Yellow cards: 10

Red cards: 1

The youngest player on this list, James came through Chelsea’s youth system and burst into the first team in 2019. A pacey right back, he has already scored seven goals and contributed 14 assists in his 86 appearances, showing his prowess in supporting the Blues’ attacks down the flank.

9 – Cesar Azpilicueta

Club: Chelsea

Seasons in Premier League: 11

Appearances: 329

Clean sheets: 113

Yellow cards: 31

Red cards: 2

The longest serving defender on the list and Chelsea’s right back since 2012. The 33-year-old has won two , the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup during his time in London and is a key part of the Chelsea defence.

8 – Cristian Romero

Club: Tottenham Hotspur

Seasons in Premier League: 2

Appearances: 24

Clean sheets: 5

Yellow cards: 8

Red cards: 0

After last season’s brilliant loan spell, Romero was snapped up by Tottenham in the recent transfer window. The Argentine centre back looks experienced beyond his years and while he has only played one full season in England, he has the potential to develop into one of the Premier League’s best centre backs.

7 – Thiago Silva

Club: Chelsea

Seasons in Premier League: 3

Appearances: 60

Clean sheets: 21

Yellow cards: 5

Red cards: 1

A veteran defender, with over 100 caps for Brazil. Silva played for two of the biggest clubs in Europe in AC Milan and PSG before his arrival at Chelsea, where he immediately helped to shore up the defence and was a big part of their Champions League winning side in 2021.

6 – Aymeric Laporte

Club: Manchester City

Seasons in Premier League: 6

Appearances: 108

Clean sheets: 47

Yellow cards: 11

Red cards: 1

Given their dominance of the Premier League in recent seasons it’s little wonder three of Manchester City’s defenders make the top 10. Laporte has had five full seasons in Manchester and while several of those have been plagued by injury, when fit the Spaniard is a match for any opposition forward.

5 – Andrew Robertson

Club: Liverpool

Seasons in Premier League: 8

Appearances: 223

Clean sheets: 69

Yellow cards: 27

Red cards: 1

Scottish left-back that has been a huge part of Liverpool’s success in the last few years. He is often seen on the overlap down the left wing, providing whipped crosses into the opposition box. One of the hardest working players on the field, Robertson is never afraid of running the length of the pitch to put in a crucial tackle.

4 – Joao Cancelo

Club: Manchester City

Seasons in Premier League: 4

Appearances: 86

Clean sheets: 39

Yellow cards: 18

Red cards: 1

Portuguese defender who is Pep Guardiola’s go-to left back. Blessed with pace and skill, Cancelo presents a serious challenge for any opposition forward looking to break down the City left. He has quickly developed into perhaps the Premier League’s best left back and at only 28-year-old, he has many years still ahead of him.

3 – Trent Alexander-Arnold

Club: Liverpool

Seasons in Premier League: 8

Appearances: 166

Clean sheets: 57

Yellow cards: 16

Red cards: 0

A truly complete defender. Alexander-Arnold has been consistently one of the best players in the Premier League in the last few seasons. Defensively solid, he also offers plenty of attacking options down the Liverpool right, and as shown by his amazing contribution of 45 assists in 166 starts, he is a crucial provider for the Reds.

2 – Ruben Dias

Club: Manchester City

Seasons in Premier League: 3

Appearances: 66

Clean sheets: 29

Yellow cards: 9

Red cards: 0

A big presence in the air and a born leader in defence, Diaz is already one of the best centre backs in the Premier League. In his two full seasons at the heart of the City defence he has helped his side to the title on both occasions and will be hoping to make it a perfect three from three this season.

1 – Virgil van Dijk

Club: Liverpool

Seasons in Premier League: 9

Appearances: 201

Clean sheets: 83

Yellow cards: 12

Red cards: 1

A supremo at the heart of Liverpool’s defence since making the switch from Southampton in 2018. The Dutchman is known for his commanding presence, power in the air and combative tackling. His ability to seemingly comfortably nullify the best strikers in the league make him the Premier League’s number one centre back.