Sun 23 January 2022 | 17:30

Best Premier League center-backs in 2021

Who were the top Premier League center-backs in 2021? Which played in the English top-flight managed to impress others the most? Follow us below as we take a closer look at the careers of these players and get to see how they have fared so far in the current season.

One simply can’t deny the importance of center-backs as they are considered by many to be the main pillars of any team. Having a good defense is always what keeps a team from failing horrendously. Even if the strikers of a team can’t seem to score goals, at least they can hold on to a single point by keeping a clean sheet. Center-backs can also join the attack whenever necessary as they have the means and the required skill to both defend and score goals at the same time.

But who were the stand-out performers of the year that passed? Which defender caught the attention of the world with their impressive performances throughout the year in the Premier League? Surely you too are eager to know who the

best Premier League center-backs in 2021

were and want to find out how they have been doing since the start of the new season. The EPL is undoubtedly one of the best leagues in the world and numerous incredible talents have crowded the top teams in the league.

So if you want to know more about these players and their respective careers, then read on as provide detailed information about the greatest Premier League center-backs in the world in 2021 and get to see how things have panned out for them so far in the 2021-22 season.

Best Premier League center-backs of 2021

From Manchester City’s strong duo of John Stones and Ruben Dias, to Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger and Manchester United’s Harry Maguire, who is most expensive defender in the world, there are some big names on the list of best Premier League center-backs in 2021 and we have certainly enjoyed watching them hold off the opposition attackers with their defensive prowess all through the year that passed. So without further ado, here is everything you need to know about the careers of these players so far.

Harry Maguire

  • Team: Manchester United

  • Market value: €48M

Who would have thought that the most expensive center-back in the history of football would get to be mocked by almost everyone on the internet for not only his performance on the pitch, but also his actions off it? Harry Maguire was single-handedly responsible for most of the football memes that were made in 2019 right after he joined Manchester United from

Leicester City

for an eye-watering fee of €87 million. The Englishman began his career as a professional footballer after joining Sheffield United’s senior side way back in 2011.

He joined

Hull City

in 2014 and it took him three years to convince Leicester City to pay €13 million to acquire his services in 2017. With the England international being valued at around €50 million in 2019 – which was still a ridiculous amount for a one-season-wonder – Manchester United’s board saw it fit to pay such a staggering amount to sign Maguire in the summer transfer window, which subsequently sparked a lot of controversy and a long series of mockery followed quickly afterwards.

However, despite having one of the worst first-seasons of his life, Maguire rose to the occasion in the next season as he turned into the main center-back of the club in no time. He was one of the main reasons behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s success in the 2020-21 campaign as he led the club to finally reach the second place in the league after quite a long time. That is why Maguire is considered to be one of the

best Premier League center-backs in 2021


As the club’s main captain and defender, the former Leicester City man went on to make a total of 52 appearances in the previous campaign, half of which happened in 2021.

Even though Maguire is not always consistent in his form and may give away silly goals from time to time, he is still a solid center-back who has already made more than 20 appearances this season. As one of the best Premier League center-backs of 2021, we will have to wait and see if he can lead his side out of the mess they were in the first half of the season in the coming months.

Eric Dier

  • Team: Tottenham

  • Market value: €22M


might not have enjoyed the best of seasons so far with how everything went down for the Lilywhites since the beginning of the 2021-22 campaign. But it seems that with Antonio Conte’s arrival in the halfway mark of the season, everything is about to change. Imagine being a solid performer with fine and sometimes great stats at a top club in Europe and not getting your hands on a major trophy. That is how Eric Dier feels every day of his life at Tottenham, alongside many of his other teammates such as Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min.

Dier was certainly one of the

best Premier League center-backs of 2021

even though he did not get to achieve the results he and his team needed in the end. Dier made his professional debut at

Sporting CP

after joining the club’s senior side from their youth academy way back in 2012. He went on to impress everyone with his defensive prowess as he managed to convince Spurs to pay €5 million for his services in 2014.

Considering how much other teams pay to acquire decent center-backs, such an amount was definitely a bargain for the time, even though Dier’s actual market value was still lower than what they paid for the English defender. The 27-year-old is versatile enough to be deployed on either side of the pitch and even as a defensive midfielder, which has given Conte so many possibilities since his arrival at the club this season.

Being amongst the best Premier League center-backs in football in 2021, Dier made a total of 39 appearances for the Lilywhites in the 2020-21 season and kept a fine track record for himself in most of the games that he played in. He has already made more than 20 appearances in the 2021-22 season and is without a doubt Tottenham’s main defender.

Craig Dawson

  • Team: West Ham

  • Market value: €3M

Craig Dawson has been the surprise package of the new season as he has helped

West Ham

become one of the main contenders in the race for the top-4 spot on the league table. Dawson might not be a young and aspiring talent with years to spare or a world-class center-back who is recognized by almost anyone in the world, but he is certainly a fine example of how a solid defender should be at the back.

He has been so effective for David Moyes’ side since joining them on loan back in 2020, that the manager was left with no choice but to sign him on a permanent deal for €2.5 million in the 2021 summer transfer window. West Ham have been truly brilliant this season and might get to achieve a high finish in the end by finishing in a Europa League spot. We definitely don’t want to jinx it as it is always nice to see the underdogs getting a win or two to challenge the goliaths and give a run for their money.

Dawson’s brilliance at the back earned him a place on the list of

best Premier League center-backs in 2021

as he helped his side finish in a Europa League position with 65 points in the 2020-21 season. The 31-year-old Englishman is versatile enough to be deployed as a right-back or even a left-back as well, which has added to David Moyes’ squad depth at the back. He played in a total of 26 games in the last campaign and somehow managed to score 4 goals in the process, which is exactly why his loan move was made permanent.

Imagine how far he could have gone had he received a chance to play for West Ham from early on the 2020-21 season. As one of the top Premier League center-backs in 2021, Dawson has already made more than 20 appearances for the Hammers in the new campaign and has managed to open the scoring with a single goal, while also providing an assist in the process.

Joel Matip

  • Team: Liverpool

  • Market value: €18M

Next on the list of

top Premier League center-backs in 2021

is Joel Matip, who still hasn’t lost his place on the starting-XI to the new arrival Ibrahima Konate thanks to his impressive performances week-in week-out. Matip joined the Reds from FC


on a free transfer deal back in 2016 and boy has it been a sweet deal for both sides. The Germany-born Cameroonian defender has been one of the stand-out players at Liverpool for several years and has served the club well alongside his teammate Virgil van Dijk.

Even though he missed a good portion of the first half of 2021 due to several injuries and fitness issues, it seems that the 30-year-old is back on form once again and has already retained his position in the starting-XI after recovering from his injuries. Having made a total of 12 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s


in the previous campaign, Matip is certainly adamant on making it up with his phenomenal displays in the current season.

He has already appeared in more than 20 games for the Reds and we are definitely enjoying seeing him partner up with Van Dijk at the back to create an almost impenetrable wall. While their solid wall is not as impregnable as it used to be, it is still considered to be one of the best defenses in the Premier League. There is no doubt that Matip was one of the best Premier League center-backs in 2021 and the only question that remains is that will he be able to continue his fine form until the end of the season?

Ben White

  • Team: Arsenal

  • Market value: €40M

Ben White lifted many eyebrows when he joined



Brighton & Hove Albion

for a massive fee of €58 million in the summer of 2021. Even though the Englishman had a stellar season at Brighton, many felt that such a transfer fee was simply too much for the defender. Of course all the talks, mockeries and trollings have not stopped White from proving his doubters wrong with his stellar performances in recent months.

He made a total of 36 league appearances for Brighton in the 2020-21 season and caught the attention of many clubs with his solid work, which led to him gaining more fame along the way. White was already one of the best Premier League center-backs in 2021 when he joined the Gunners over the summer, which is why the expectations were high from the very beginning. The 24-year-old has successfully managed to prove his worth by helping Mikel Arteta and his men in their journey towards taking Arsenal into a Champions League spot once again.

It had been long since Arsenal were seen amongst the top-4, which is why many of the club’s supporters are excited to see what comes of the 2021-22 season if everything goes as planned. The former Brighton center-back has already made more than 15 league appearances for Arsenal and is one of the defenders at the club. His defensive prowess and hard work could help Arteta further improve his side by focusing more on the middle of the park and the offense department, leaving most of the defensive thinking to White himself.

Thiago Silva

  • Team: Chelsea

  • Market value: €2.5M

Thiago Silva has had quite an illustrious career so far and does not seem to be stopping any time soon. The Brazilian defender put in one of his greatest performances ever in the previous season and helped Chelsea win the Champions League against a star-studded Manchester City. Silva has played for numerous clubs throughout the years, most notably

AC Milan

and Paris Saint-Germain, whom he joined in 2009 and 2012 respectively.

While many in the world praise the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo for continuing to deliver great performances after having passed the 35-year-old threshold, few get to recognize how much it takes to play for a top club in Europe at the age of 37. The Brazil international proved everyone why he was amongst the

greatest Premier League center-backs in the world in 2021

by making more than 30 appearances for the Blues in the 2020-21 season, during which he even managed to score two goals.

Silva has also added to his tally of goals and assists as a defender throughout his first 20 appearances in the 2021-22 season. It seems that Tuchel knows the value that Silva holds for his team even at the age of 37.

Antonio Rudiger

  • Team: Chelsea

  • Market value: €35M

Chelsea’s success in last season’s Champions League is not all thanks to Thiago Silva’s brilliance at the back. Everything that the club have achieved so far has been thanks to the collective effort of the whole squad. Edouard Mendy would have been a lot busier had it not been for the partnership that Silva and Antonio Rudiger have created at the back. Both of Chelsea’s main defenders were amongst the greatest Premier League center-backs in the world in 2021 thanks to their impressive display on European nights.

Rudiger, just like his Brazilian counterpart, has had quite a busy career so far, having joined numerous clubs including VfB Stuttgart, AS Roma and

Borussia Dortmund

throughout the years. While the German center-back did not get the chance to play for Dortmund’s youth squad, he did manage to make his first big move by joining Roma back in the summer of 2016. It only took him a year to make yet another big move by joining Chelsea from the Serie A side for a reported fee of €35 million in the summer of 2017.

But how did the 28-year-old get to be one amongst the

best Premier League center-backs in football in 2021

? Well, the Germany international has been a vital part of his side since joining the English club and proved to be an important asset yet again by doing well in his 34 appearances in the 2020-21 season. He is already close to setting a higher appearance tally as he has surpassed the number of league appearances he made last season by playing in a total of 20 league games in the current season so far.

Rudiger has also contributed to his club’s offense as well by scoring two goals and providing two assists during these league appearances, which would certainly earn the German defender a spot on the list of best Premier League center-backs in 2021.

Aymeric Laporte

  • Team: Manchester City

  • Market value: €45M

Pep Guardiola enjoys such a massive squad depth that he can only make use of all of his players if he implements a rotation-based system. With four world-class center-backs serving Manchester City at the time being, it is seriously a difficult job to select the two main defenders at the back. However, Aymeric Laporte has made that job quite easy for Guardiola with his incredible performances throughout the year that passed, which even earned a place amongst the best Premier League center-backs in 2021.

Laporte spent a big chunk of his career in La Liga playing for

Athletic Bilbao

from 2012 until 2018, when he joined Man City for a whopping fee of €65 million. As one of the most expensive defenders in the world, the Frenchman has been a vital asset for City since joining the club a couple of years ago. The France-born Spain international did not get to make a lot of appearances in the previous season, but has since made up for the lost time with 20 appearances across all competitions so far in the current campaign.

Getting game time at a club with such a squad depth is not an easy job, which is why Laporte had to be one of the best Premier League center-backs in 2021 to earn a spot on the club’s starting-XI list. He has solidified City’s defense alongside the likes of Ruben Dias and John Stones, which has led to his club being more than ten points clear of the second spot on the league table mid-season.

Virgil van Dijk

  • Team: Liverpool

  • Market value: €55M

All behold the man who got to be the most expensive defender in the world for a couple of days before Harry Maguire arrived to ruin the party. Of course While Maguire has always been mocked for his performance, Virgil van Dijk has always been praised for his achievements with


and his crazy stats throughout the years.

Even though the Dutchman did not get to play in many of his side’s games last season due to injury, him being sidelined proved everyone how vital he was for Jurgen Klopp’s side as it took them quite a while to get back on their feet by adapting to van Dijk’s absence.

Despite his lack of game time in the 2020-21 season, van Dijk proved to be one of the best Premier League center-backs in 2021 by making up for the lost time with his world-class performances in the first half of the current season. He is without a doubt one of the main reasons why Liverpool have one of the most impenetrable defenses in the league and are only behind one or two English sides in the number of goals conceded.

Ruben Dias

  • Team: Manchester City

  • Market value: €75M

Ruben Dias’ career as a defender has been a fairytale so far. Having risen up the ranks at Benfica’s youth academy, he joined their senior side in 2017 and it only took him three years to finally make his big-money move by joining the Citizens for a massive fee of €68 million in 2020. Since then, Dias has been lauded as one, if not the, best center-back in the world. The Portugal international was without a doubt one of the best Premier League center-backs in football in 2021 as he helped his side win the league title alongside the English League Cup.

The 24-year-old’s market value has soared through the sky in recent years and it seems that we are only going to see him improve his stats and market value in the coming years. He has already played in more than 20 league games for City in the current season and has acted as one of the main pillars of Pep Guardiola’s squad. He has also shown his attacking prowess by scoring two goals and providing two assists in the process of those appearances.

We will have to wait and see if Dias will become a Manchester City icon in the coming years, or if he will decide to spend his illustrious career somewhere else. Of course with the title-winning and star-studded squad that City have right now, who would want to leave the club if they are amongst the starting-XI?




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