In a country that is famous for the defensive tactics of its teams, let’s see who are the best Serie A defenders of 2021?!
Italian football has always been one of balance between attack and defense, with an emphasis on the defensive part of the game. The great Catanaccio tactics of Italian managers have produced some of thebest Italian defenders of all time
and in fact the history of football and so it’s always exciting to take a look at Serie A to discover great defenders, as we are going to do in this article.
That being said, this season of Serie A has seen many of its big name defenders, like Koulibaly and de Ligt, not perform exactly up to their own standards which is perfect for us as we can introduce some of the more underrated defenders in Serie A. now let’s find out who are the
best Serie A defenders of 2021
We’re going to take a look at some of the defensive statistics, mainly interceptions, blocks and tackles, to determine the best Serie A defenders of 2020-2021 season. with that said, let’s take a look at the players on our list:
There has always been a certain toughness, of both attitude and physicality, attributed to central defenders, so it’s of now surprise that Lazio’sFrancesco Acerbi
appears on our list of best defenders in Serie A 2021, because you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who battled cancer, prevailed and continued his professional career at the top level and in fact experienced the best years of his career after his battle with cancer.
To top it all off, Acerbi has been phenomenal in the past couple of seasons forLazio
and is part of the reason the club experienced a moderate success, especially last season and earned a Champions League spot and even qualified to the knockout rounds of this season’s UCL. A left-footed center back, who until the age of 22 was playing in lower tiers of Italian football, Acerbi is the perfect example of a footballer who paid his dues to get here and now, well into his 30s, is experiencing the best years of his career.
While he is known for being a hard tackler, Acerbi’s interceptions and clearances are the real stand-outs of his performances this season. as of writing this article, Acerbi has made 2.5 interceptions per game, which makes him the 4th best in Serie A, and his 3.7 clearances per game places him at 9th among the Serie A defenders. It will be interesting to see him in Italy’s Euro squad this summer, a perfect reward for all his years of hard work. Regardless of that happening, Acerbi is certainly one of the best Serie A defenders of 2021.
This season, after several years of not competing for the title, AC Milan had finally a good title run and went toe to toe with their city rivals, Inter, until a couple of months ago. While players like Zlatan and Calhanoglu have gotten most of the praise of the fans and the media, players likeSimon Kjaer
and Davide Calabria have been the unsung heroes of Milan this year, both of whom appear on our list of
best defenders in Serie A 2021
Simon Kjaer’s career has been an interesting one since the Danish defender has been a sort of nomad when it comes to the clubs he has played at. Starting his career at Midtjylland in Denmark, Kjaer has gone on to play for Palermo, Roma and Atalanta in Italy as well as Wolfsburg, Lille, Fenerbahce and Sevilla at Europe’s other big leagues. Although he has always had the talent to be a great defender, Kjaer has experienced inconsistency throughout his career, a problem which is seen less and less in his outings as aMilan
One of the main reasons behind AC Milan’s solid defense, especially in the first half of the season, Simon Kjaer has been particularly excellent this season when it comes to clearances and blocking the attack. With 4.3 clearances per game Kjaer is the 4th best player in Serie A which coupled with his 1.6 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per game, make him one of the best Serie A defenders of 2021.
Although Napoli are a long way from their best days, they still have a plethora of talent at the club andGiovanni Di Lorenzo
is definitely one of them. As far as Di Lorenzo’s performances this season goes, he has been one of their best players and one of
greatest Serie A current defenders
. A fairly defensive-minded right back who can also be deployed as a midfielder, Di Lorenzo is a rare breed and a breath of fresh air compared to the gung ho modern full-backs, who so often neglect their defensive duties.
Di Lorenzo like many of the players on this list, started his football at the lower tiers of Italian football, with him playing for Reggina, where he was a youth academy graduate of the club. He proceeded to play for Cuneo and Matera before joining Empoli in 2017. After 2 seasons of solid performances at Empoli,Napoli
brought the right-back to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona for €8 million.
As Napoli’s manager, Gennaro Gattuso, has always favored a more defensive approach in his tactics, a player like Di Lorenzo fits his plans perfectly. Di Lorenzo is efficient in one-on-one situations and boasts one of the best tackling stats in the league with 2.3 tackles per game.
His tendency to not overlap too much and instead support the wingers in front of him with short passes, makes him a competent defender who is absolutely one of the best Serie A defenders of 2021. Although it’s worth mentioning that he has 4 assists and 2 goals to his name this season, so he doesn’t shirk his offensive duties either!
With his compatriot and fellow full-back, Alex Sandro, losing most of the season due to a couple of injuries,Danilo
has finally stepped up his game and has produced some of the best performances of his career this season and therefore makes it onto our list of best defenders in Serie A 2021. While his primary position is right back, Danilo could also play as a left-back and a center back, in a 3-man defense. he can also fill in as a defensive midfielder, which makes him the perfect player for an injury-ridden Juventus side.
After gaining the interest of several big clubs by his performances in Porto, Danilo’s career led him to many titles and trophies both at Real Madrid and Manchester City but perhaps on an individual level, it was always felt that Danilo was underperforming, since he showed such great potential at Porto. But it seems that at last,Juventus
was the right place for Danilo, since he has taken his performances to a whole new level.
This season, Danilo has played almost half of his games as a right-back and the other half as a left-back. Under the management of Andrea Pirlo, who considers full-backs as the team’s main playmakers in his tactics, both Danilo and Cuadrado have become important pillars in Juve’s playing style and both players have delivered, which is why they both appear on our list of
best Serie A defenders of 2021
The only Inter Milan player on our list greatest Serie A current defenders is the incredibleAchraf Hakimi
. While it may be strange to include only one player from Serie A’s eventual 2020-21 champions, it has to be noted that Inter’s back-line have simply received much less threat than other teams in the league as they have had the control of most of the games with their solid midfielders and the constant barrage of their attackers.
And even Hakimi’s inclusion on our list is because of his attacking contributions, since his defensive numbers are nothing special and are lower than most players on our list. Nonetheless, Real Madrid have certainly doubted their decision to sell the Moroccan youngster toInter
at the start of this season, especially with Madrid’s injury crisis, as Hakimi has gone on to become one of the most exciting full-backs in Europe.
With 5 assists Hakimi is one of the best assist providers at Inter but more interestingly is the fact that Hakimi is Inter’s third best goal scorer with 6 goals, behind Lukaku and Martinez. As he has always been an attacking wing-back, Conte made the right decision of choosing a 3-5-2 formation which allows defensive solidarity mainly through central midfielders like Brozovic, which in turn frees players like Hakimi and Perisic to roam freely on the flanks. Regardless, Hakimi’s addition to Inter may have been the final piece of the puzzle to them winning the Serie A!
Whoever thought that Diego Godin was passed his prime was hugely mistaken, because El Fararon doesn’t want to retire just yet, as evidenced by yet another great season at the top levels of European football.Diego Godin
is simply a complete defender, who may have slowed a bit in recent years but in turn makes it up with his experience, which makes him one of the
best Serie A defenders of 2020-2021 season
The Uruguayan central defender, got a foothold in European football by playing for Villarreal between 2007 and 2010 before transferring to Atletico Madrid, where spent almost a decade and became one of the main reasons Atletico experienced so much success during the 2010s. he then found his way to Italy as he joined Inter Milan last season but after only a season with the Nerazzurri he left to joinCagliari
at the start of this season.
And like always it was business as usual for Diego Godin as he gave one great performance after another, proving to everyone why he was regarded as one of the best defenders in Europe for a decade. As far as his stats go, Diego Godin has one of the best records for both clearances and tackles in Serie A. with 4.1 clearances and 2.3 tackles per game, Godin is certainly one of the best Serie A defenders of 2021 and now at 35, can be an inspiration for any defender who dreams of a long-lasting career.
Another AC Milan defender on our list of greatest Serie A current defenders is the right backDavide Calabria
, who has been a delight to Milan fans this season as well as being one of the main reasons behind Milan’s strong performances in the first half of the season. Calabria and his full back partner, Theo Hernandez, have both been helping Milan in attack as well as their solid defensive performances.
While originally, Milan considered him a back-up to Conti, Calabria soon replaced him as the first-choice right back due to latter’s recurring injuries. Davide Calabria is the very image of a modern full-back, who has blistering pace and technique that helps him immensely going forward. His pace and stamina also allows him to recover his position pretty well and not be caught out of position on the counter attack.
Regarding his defensive stats, Davide Calabria, as of writing this article, is the best tackler in Serie A by a large margin. His 3.5 tackles per game is a full point higher than the second placed Manuel Locatelli with 2.4 tackles per game. He also boasts of 2 clearances and 1.4 interceptions per game as well as 2 goals and an assist this season which makes him one of Milan’s best players and definitely a complete player who deserves to be on our list of best Serie A defenders of 2021.
Cristiano Ronaldo aside,Juan Cuadrado
has been Juventus’ best player this season. he has been a true beacon of hope in a rather forgettable season for the Bianconeri. Moving him from a winger role to the role of a wing-back has been one of the few genius tactical strokes of Andrea Pirlo as Juventus’ manager and the move has paid up in droves, proven by the fact that Cuadrado has been Juventus’ leading assist provider this season.
Following the injury of Juventus’ trusted left-back Alex Sandro, Pirlo made the decision of moving Danilo, another one of Serie A best defenders of 2020/21 on our list, to the left wing-back position and instead play Cuadrado, who had the pace and the positional sense required, as a right wing-back. This has allowed Juve to rely heavily on their right flank moving forward and with Cristiano Ronaldo being a lethal aerial threat, Cuadrado proved the perfect choice as his inch perfect crosses could provide the Portuguese with many chances.
Cuadrado may be a complete attacking wing-back but that doesn’t mean that he shirks his defensive duties off as he has a respectable stat of 1.6 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game. These coupled with his 9 assists and his winning mentality, which has savedJuve
crucial points on several occasions, makes Juan Cuadrado one of the best Serie A defenders of 2021.
The last AC Milan player on our list of
Serie A best defenders of 2020/21
is none other than the French left-back,Theo Hernandez
, who joined Milan from Real Madrid at the start of the last season in a deal that could go up to €20 million. A price that Milan, looking at Hernandez’ performances since last season, are happy to pay and honestly considering how good Hernandez has been is a bargain in today’s market.
Theo alongside his brotherLucas
, who is also a left-back who plays for Bayern Munich, both were brought up in Atletico Madrid’s youth academy, a club where their father used to play at. While Lucas found his way to Atletico’s first team, Theo found his way to Real Madrid but as you can imagine it wasn’t that easy to break into Madrid’s first team and so Theo proved his worth on a season-long loan at Sociedad which eventually earned him a move to Milan in 2019.
Theo Hernandez is very much an attacking left-back as his 6 goals and 3 assists from last season proves the fact, but this season he has brought his overall game to a whole new level and has as of writing this article registered 4 goals and 5 assists which are phenomenal numbers for a full-back. He has also registered 1.5 tackles and 1.6 clearances per game which are also solid numbers for a full-back.
So it’s of no surprise that he makes our list of best Serie A defenders of 2021. It would be interesting to see if he manages to get into France’s squad for the Euro’s, especially if he gets the nod over his brother!
For our last player in our list of Serie A best defenders of 2020/21 we’re going to take a look at everyone’s second-favorite team in Italy Atalanta and their excellent center-back, Cristian Romero. A quintessential Argentinian defender, Romero isn’t one to shy away from a hard tackle but he is also smart enough to know when and where to foul and has been an excellent new addition toAtalanta
’s already great squad.
Last season, Atalanta had one of the best attacking records in Europe, with them scoring an incredible 98 goals in Serie A alone but they had a glaring weakness as well, which was their rather weak defense that conceded nearly 50 goals in Serie A. while these many conceded goals are not necessarily a sign of weak personnel at the back but rather Atalanta’s attacking style of play, the club mad a smart investment of bringing in a no-nonsense Argentinian defender,Cristian Romero
, from Genoa.
With 3.3 interceptions, 2.2 tackles and 2.2 clearances per game, Romero has brought in a much needed solidarity to Atalanta’s back line and has become one of the
best Serie A defenders of 2021
and while he may need a strong defensive midfielder in front of him to protect Atalanta’s defense a lot more, it seems like that with the likes of Romero and their unstoppable attack, Atalanta may very well be on their way to their first trophy in years!