Premier League's best defenders - ranked

Image by Briony Painter
Image by Briony Painter /

Donate a football kit to double a child's wardrobe in the developing world

It's been said that the art of defending has been lost in the modern Premier League.

However, it is more accurate to say that what is expected of defenders has changed. No longer is the back four simply tasked with keeping clean sheets.

Now, defenders increasingly perform vital roles in possession too, whether it's starting moves with long passes or bombing down the wings and creating scoring opportunities.

This week our list of the 10 best defenders in the Premier League is powered by 90min's 'Football Tackles' charity of the week: KitAid.

KitAid is a charity that recycles your once loved football kits and distributes them to underprivileged children and adults in some of the world’s poorest countries. By donating just one jersey you can double a child's wardrobe, de-clutter your own, help support education and social inclusion campaigns, crime prevention, quell drug/alcohol misuse, protect endangered chimpanzees from poachers and prevent gun related gang murders.

The charity ensures that your kit donation counts and will bring happiness to many different people, projects and teams across the developing world.

To find out more about the fantastic work that KitAid do click here.

10. Reece James

Reece James
James is brilliant / Henry Browne/GettyImages

Injuries restricted Reece James to 26 Premier League appearances this season, but when he play, bah gawd he was good.

A fully fit James will be key for both Chelsea and England in 2022/23.

9. Antonio Rudiger (-)

Antonio Rudiger
Rudiger is now one of the world's most in-demand defenders / Robin Jones/GettyImages

One of the most in-demand centre-backs in world football right now, Antonio Rudiger's stock has gone through the roof over the past 12 months.

Another benefactor of Tuchel's tactical shift, Rudiger is a dangerous ball-playing defender who not only reads the game brilliantly and is tremendous in the air, he's exceptionally comfortable joining in attacks with the ball at his feet.

It's a shame for Chelsea that he'll be leaving this summer.

8. Marc Guehi

Aston Villa v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Guehi is a special talent / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

What a coup for Crystal Palace this was.

At just 21 years old, Marc Guehi is already one of the best centre backs in the Premier League.

Impressive stuff.

7. Cristian Romero

Cristian Romero, Ben Davies
Romero / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

One of, if the not the, best signing Tottenham Hotspur have made in quite some time.

The young leader of their back three, the sky is limit for Romero in the Premier League.

6. Ruben Dias

Ruben Dias
Dias is back from injury / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

He was the best defender in England last season, but injuries mean he's dropped down our rankings this year.

Still, when he was fit he was been mightily impressive.

5. Joel Matip

Joel Matip
Matip is brilliant / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Liverpool look a much better team with Joel Matip in the starting XI.

This season he's seemingly been more available than ever, which has meant that Liverpool have looked better than ever too.

A top, top player.

4. Andrew Robertson

Andrew Robertson
Robertson remains one of the best / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Liverpool's attacking prowess down each flank is famed, so there's really no surprise to see Andy Robertson ranked among the league's best defenders.

The Scot hasn't been at his absolutely brilliant best all season, granted, but he has that level of class that few left-backs in the world possess. In fact, he's still the best in the business.

3. Joao Cancelo

Joao Cancelo
Joao Cancelo is now an established star / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

When Manchester City signed Joao Cancelo from Juventus in 2019, many were underwhelmed by his arrival. Now into his third season at the Etihad, any doubts over the 27-year-old's ability have been firmly put to bed.

Brilliant on either side of defence, or as a supplementary midfielder, Cancelo has the touch and finesse to pick out passes and through balls that few others can even see. That's why Pep Guardiola loves him.

2. Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold
Alexander-Arnold has been back to his best / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Some doubted the ability of Trent Alexander-Arnold after a ropey couple of months and some lapses in defensive concentration.

Fortunately, Liverpool's right-back has put all of that to one side, has come back stronger than ever and is undisputedly the most dangerous full-back in the league.

1. Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk
Van Dijk is top dog / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Can anybody other than Virgil van Dijk really lay claim to being the best defender in the Premier League?

We don't think so.

The Dutchman is imperious in every facet of the game and is on course to establish himself as a legendary figure at Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp will be relieved that he is set to shake off an injury in time for the Champions League final.