Up until a few years ago, every summer compilation list of the most expensive football transfers during the off-season boasted of strikers or midfielders.
Defenders would barely make it to the list. However, as the years passed by, football has also evolved.
The owners have realized that defence is as integral to winning matches as the attack. We now see owners, not flinching before shelling out money over £50 million on defenders.
Manchester City, in particular, has set the trend with signing deals involving top defenders at unbelievable fees. Since then, European giants have also not shied away from breaking the bank to secure the signature of top defenders. Here's a list of the most expensive defenders in the history of football.
While these were the top five most expensive defenders in the history of football, 2019 has been a bountiful year for defenders in general with two major signings just missing the cut.
#5 Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao to Manchester City, 2018)
Transfer fee: £57 million
Pep Guardiola, on his quest to make Manchester City one of the best teams in the world, added another weapon to his army of defenders by signing Aymeric Laporte in the closing stages of the January transfer window last year.
Laporte had become a regular at Athletic Bilbao under Ernesto Valverde due to his spectacular performances at the back. Reports suggested that he rejected a move to Manchester City in 2016.
Concern about Vincent Kompany's injury led Guardiola to believe there's a need for one more center-back and hence, he shelled out £57m - a record for both the clubs.
Laporte scored three goals, assisted three goals and made 121 clearances in 44 matches that he played for City since joining in January 2018.
With such a strong line-up at the back, City managed to concede only 23 goals with 20 clean sheets in the Premier League 2018-19 season.
#4 Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax to Juventus, 2019)
Transfer fee: £67.8 million
If you've seen Matthijs de Ligt play for Ajax or heard him speak, you would be thoroughly surprised that he's not even turned 20 years old.
The Dutch footballer had been the Ajax captain at 19 years of age and led his team to the Eredivisie title in 2018-19. There was no surprise that all the big teams were vying for his signature, at the earliest.
In the end, Juventus managed to sign him for an insane £67.8m deal. This deal will keep the young star at Turin for the next five years.
There was a massive tug-of-war between PSG and Juventus which was eventually won by the Italian giants.
Matthijs de Ligt has joined Juventus at a crucial period where they are heavily investing in players.
#3 Lucas Hernandez (Atlético Madrid to Bayern Munich, 2019)
Transfer fee: £68 million.
Lucas Hernandez broke through the ranks at Atlético in 2014 and paved his way to the top for the club. He had joined Rojiblancos at the tender age of 11.
It was his defensive capabilities as both a center-back and a left-back which pushed him to the top. To add to it, he also won the World Cup with France.
It was probably this, which convinced German giants Bayern Munich to break the bank to sign him for a club-record £68m.
An aging squad to deal with, it was necessary, according to the sporting directors at Bayern, to infuse the team with young blood.
With this fee, Lucas becomes the most expensive player in the history of Bundesliga. Lucas joins Bayern for a 5-year deal running through till June 2024.
#2 Virgil van Dijk (Southampton to Liverpool, 2018)
Transfer fee: £75 million
When Liverpool splashed an atrocious £75m, thereby making him the most expensive defender in the world (as of August 3, 2019), the critics bashed the Merseyside club.
However, multiple awards and a gleaming Champions League trophy later, the critics were silenced by the Dutch international.
The former Southampton center-back improved steadily during his time at the Saints and was a part of their fabled back-four.
Van Dijk's performances over the 2018-19 season had been so spectacular that multiple fan portals were abuzz with awarding him the best defender of all times award.
Fan frenzy apart, it was his effective leadership under which the Liverpool defense conceded only 22 goals (the least number of goals conceded by any team for the season). Liverpool was inches close to winning the Premier League title, finishing one point behind Manchester City.
#1 Harry Maguire (Leicester City to Manchester United, 2019)
Transfer fee: £80 million
It's no secret that Manchester United have been chasing Harry Maguire since months. To be precise, José Mourinho was keen to add him to his then-United squad. Maguire's performances for Leicester City have been nothing short of eye-catching over the years. He played a significant role in helping England reach the semi-final of the World Cup.
Ending months of speculation, Ole Gunnar Solskjær's Manchester United finally secured the signature of their elusive target.
By spending £80 million, Maguire has eclipsed the money that was forked out by Liverpool to sign Virgil van Dijk from Southampton.
Reports suggest that since a motivational phone-call by the then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a 17-year old Maguire wished to join United. He has signed a six-year deal running through to 2025.