Italian football is famed for being the home of the 'catenaccio'. Helenio Herrera's legendary Grande Inter were perhaps the biggest proponents of this style of play.
No country has produced as many iconic defenders as Italy. The list of legendary defenders to come through Serie A reads like a who's who of greatest defenders throughout the history of football.
The likes of Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Gaetano Scirea, Giuseppe Bergomi, Claudio Gentile, Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta are just a few of the great names that readily come to mind.
Serie A has evolved from the highly defensive system of previous eras to a more tactical and esthetic style in recent years. However, there are still some top-tier defenders who are proving their mettle on a regular basis in the Italian top-flight.
With another season of exciting Serie A football upon us, we shall be having a rundown of five defenders to watch out for in the 2021-22 Serie A season.
#5 Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan)
Stefan de Vrij was a mainstay at the heart of the Inter Milan defense under Antonio Conte. But his is role is unlikely to change with Simone Inzaghi now at the helm.
The Nerrazzuri have undergone several changes in the few months since winning Serie A. They might struggle to maintain the heights of the last two seasons.
However, Inter still have some quality players within their ranks and Stefan de Vrij is one of the players who will be expected to take charge of proceedings on the field.
The 29-year-old joined the San Siro outfit in 2018 after four seasons of stellar displays with Lazio. He has continued his commanding performance for Inter and is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in Serie A.
Inter Milan will have an extra spotlight placed on them this season in light of recent off-field decisions. And Stefan de Vrij is one of the players who can help them weather the storm.
#4 Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
Kalidou Koulibaly has found himself on the radar of practically every top club in Europe over the last few years. But he is about to start yet another season in the colors of Napoli.
The Senegal international has a commanding presence at the heart of defense and is adept at reading the game. His imposing physique also makes him a useful threat in both boxes and he is blessed with great technique while playing out from the back.
With Napoli having narrowly missed out on UEFA Champions League qualification last term, the club will be hoping to go one better this season. And Koulibaly's displays at the back will be crucial.