Over the years, the role of a center-back has changed considerably. A modern-day center-back is expected to provide his team with defensive solidarity and also contribute to the attack. Hence, apart from being physically strong, disciplined and well-equipped with defensive abilities, a center-back is also expected to be quick and composed on the ball.
The Bundesliga is home to some of the finest center-backs in the world. While some of these players like Dayot Upamecano, Niklas Sule and Jonathan Tah get a lot of attention, several other talented players are still operating under the radar without getting enough credit for their excellent performances.
Here we look at three such under-rated center-backs currently plying their trade in the Bundesliga.
1. Matthias Ginter
Having conceded just 26 goals conceded this season, Borussia Mönchengladbach possess one of the best defenses in the Bundesliga. And one of the crucial players behind their defensive success is Matthias Ginter.
The 26-year-old signed for the Foals in 2017 from Borussia Dortmund and has since developed into one of the most reliable and consistent defenders in the league. The German is extremely composed on the ball and possesses the technical abilities to carry the ball forward from the back.
The defender boasts an incredible passing range and has notably achieved a pass completion rate of 85% this season. Additionally, the defender is highly versatile and can play at various positions along the backline as well as in the midfield.
Apart from his domestic success, the German has been performing exceptionally at the international level as well. Ginter's recent stellar display in the Euro 2020 qualifiers has impressed the German National team coach, Joachim Low, and with the Euros just around the corner, the defender can be a crucial part of his national team.
2. Martin Hinteregger
Martin Hinteregger moved to Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer after an excellent loan spell with the Die Adler in the second half of last season. The defender has since been an integral part of Adolf Hutter's squad.
The left-footed wide center-back is known for his towering figure and aerial abilities, winning 53 aerial duels this season. Furthermore, the Austrian is composed with the ball at his feet and possesses excellent ball distribution skills.
Under Hutter, the defender plays as an overlapping center-back and is crucial to Frankfurt's counter-attacking style of football. He is responsible to drive forward into the opposition half to support and supplement the attack.
The 27-year-old has been in impressive form this season, contributing to seven goals - scoring seven and creating one. Apart from his attacking contributions, the defender is also averaging 2 tackles and 1 interception per game, showcasing his defensive prowess.
The Austrian defender is now in his peak years and will be a crucial figure for the Eagles as they look to secure a European position this season.
3. Salif Sane
Another highly talented center-back plying his trade in the Bundesliga is the Senegal international, Salif Sane. The 28-year-old moved to Schalke 04 in 2018 for a reported fee of €7m and since then has established himself as one of the best defenders in the league.
The Senegalese is a no-nonsense defender with exceptional aerial abilities and physical strength, averaging 1.2 interceptions per game with a 69.2% success rate in duels this season. Apart from his aerial and physical supremacy, the defender is also an excellent reader of the game and is responsible for initiating the proceedings from the back.
The 6'4" defender has played a crucial role in the resurgence of the Die Knappen under the new manager David Wagner, contributing to 3 goals and keeping 3 clean sheets. His fine form was put to a halt after sustaining a knee injury in November, but he is expected to return in March and will prove to be an important addition to Wagner's squad.