7 Best Ball-playing Centerbacks right now
The modern game of football continues to evolve with each passing season and the latest rage in football are ball-playing defenders. These players are tasked with initiating the attack from deep within the own half, they can pass, they can assist and they can move forward like a midfielder. Some of them are even blessed with dribbling skills, but there’s one thing that binds them all – the ball-playing defenders are changing the image of modern football.
With more attacking formations and tactics being utilized by football managers these days, the onus is on the players to improvise and the ball-playing defender perhaps had its roots in Cruyff’s total football. Presently, every team wants a centre-back who can join in the attack, who is comfortable on the ball and who can take up the responsibilities of a midfielder while also carrying out the duties of a defender. Unfortunately, not all teams are blessed with such rare gems.
Football has always produced defenders who were good with the ball at their feet and the present generation is no different. As such, we look at 7 of the best ball-playing centre-backs in the football world right now.
#7 Leonardo Bonucci (Italy, Juventus)
The Italian was perhaps one of the best defenders in the planet before his disastrous move to AC Milan last season, which brought him little success but caused him a lot of negative publicity. However, at the start of the 2018/19 season, Bonucci made a return to Juventus and will be looking forward to winning his fans over again.
As a defender, he is as good as it gets. Strong and alert, Bonucci has all the qualities of a top centre-back – perfect tackles, good anticipation skills and great positioning. But one of Bonucci’s strongest points is that he is extremely good on the ball, he wants the ball played to him and he knows what to do with it. He is perhaps the most underrated ball playing defenders around because the Italian possesses a fantastic range of passes in his repertoire. In the 3-man defensive unit of Juventus, he used to be the one with playmaking duties. He is equally effective in a two-man central defensive pair and likes to play the ball from deep in the midfield, where he can orchestrate the game or play one of his inch-perfect long balls. Bonucci has the ability to control the tempo and such is his assurance on the ball, that he can play the ball out of the defence even under extreme pressure.
His season at Milan was a disappointment and it is the only reason that Bonucci is ranked a little lower in this list. However, back at the Old Lady now, it is only a matter of time before Bonucci gets going again.