Top 10 defenders of last decade (2010-2019)
In a day and age where attackers are often in the spotlight, the past decade has seen a handful of defenders being recognized for their exemplary performances for their respective sides. The role of a modern-day defender has changed in recent seasons, with managers making minor tweaks to their sides to involve their full-backs in both phases of play.
While the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have developed into the finest pair of fullbacks in world football, as they've thrived in Jurgen Klopp's system where they are deployed as the chief creators, Sheffield United's philosophy of overlapping centre-halves is unlike anything we've seen over the years.
In addition to the famous saying, "if we score, we may win but if we don't concede, we cannot lose," Sir Alex Ferguson's iconic quote concerning defenders is the most startling example yet of their importance to a team.
"Attack wins you games, defence wins you championships."
While it's quite the task to rank defenders based on ability and longevity, we have managed to do so after a lot of deliberation. On that note, here are 10 of the best defenders of the decade (2010-2019).
#10 Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk's inclusion is controversial, to say the least, but the Dutchman's transformative effect on this unstoppable Liverpool side cannot be overstated. Since joining the Merseyside giants for the world record fee in 2018, Van Dijk has almost single-handedly changed the fortunes of the Liverpool rearguard and restored them amongst Europe's elite clubs.
Aside from winning the PFA Player of the Year and the UEFA Player of the Year awards, the 28-year-old came within a few votes of becoming the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 to win the Ballon d'Or, as he narrowly missed out on the award to Lionel Messi. Van Dijk is widely regarded as the best defender in world football currently and he has been an ever-present for Liverpool this season, as the Reds have opened up a stunning 22-point advantage over Manchester City in the Premier League summit.
The Netherlands captain is one of the biggest matchwinners around currently and looks set to the dominate world football for the next few years, as Liverpool gear up to win their first league title in 20 years with Van Dijk on the forefront of it all.