5 defenders in the current era who deserve the Ballon d'Or
Defenders are often ignored when it comes to individual awards, especially in Ballon d'Or ceremonies. However, this tendency is extremely unfair, because centre-backs and fullbacks are the back-bone of any successful side. To quote a coaching legend, the great Sir Alex Ferguson:
"Attack wins you games. Defense wins you titles."
It is about time that we realize the importance of defenders and how influential they can be. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are currently the world's greatest two footballers, can certainly not be blamed for getting hammered 4-0 by Germany in the World Cup.
Likewise, it would be hypocritical to give them all the credits when they have an accomplished side working hard in order to provide them with the best possible conditions to express their talents at Barcelona and Real Madrid. For a team to succeed, it must rely on the hard-work of eleven individuals, and not just the goal-scorers.
From this perspective, there should be no more doubt that defenders are just as important as midfielders or attackers. Having said that, here are five defenders who we believe have what it takes to be potential Ballon d'Or winners, if the system gave them justice.
#5 - Leonardo Bonucci:
Leonardo Bonucci has been one of the world's finest centre-backs in the past few seasons. He helped Juventus win 6 Serie A titles and reach 2 UEFA Champions League finals, while leading their back-line in style. Leo is the modern defender by all means, thanks to his aggressiveness, reading of the game and ball-playing ability.
The 30-year old is one of the best deep-lying playmakers in the world. As a matter of fact, he averaged 67 passes with a success rate of 88% in the Italian league last season. In the period where Claudio Marchisio was vastly injured and Pjanic had not yet arrived, it was he who took charge of orchestrating Juve's build-up play.
His importance in Antonio Conte's system in Euro 16 was very visible, as he was constantly one of Italy's best performers. Prior to completing his move to AC Milan where he eventually became the captain, Bonucci had played an essential role in Juventus, achieving the second highest number of minutes without conceding goals, in Champions League history. In addition to his defensive excellence, he finished that campaign with 4 goals and 8 assists.