After going through the list of the best goalkeepers of the year in international soccer, it’s time to go over the defenders that have performed at the highest level in the world.
This is a very difficult list to make, because many teams have shown increased tactical and defensive prowess during 2013, although we focused on the players who managed to –individually– become the leaders in the team doing the dirty work as efficiently as ever.
Thiago Silva: The most sought after defender in the world.
AC Milan sold him to PSG in a very surprising move, for a total of 42 million euro. His season in France was so productive that FC Barcelona decided to offer upwards of 50 million to the Parisian squad to bring him over and revamp its defensive line. PSG didn’t even blink.
Silva’s speed and confidence has made him one of the most respected defenders in the world, and not only won the Ligue 1 with PSG, he also helped Brazil lift the ConfedCup against Spain. In 2014, he has the chance to make a real splash both in the Champions League and in the World Cup.
He is one of those players that has become the perfect merge between old schools serious defenders like Baresi and Maldini, and the modern sophisticated play creators from the back, like Pique or Koeman.
Philipp Lahm: Interestingly enough, the best right back in the world has the chance of becoming the best midfielder in the world next year.
Pep Guardiola said Lahm was the most tactically intelligent player he had ever worked with, and quickly changed his position to move from the right back to the center midfield position.
From that spot, the German has been pulling the strings of Bayern Munich’s attacking play, but during the first part of the season, his performances as right back were key for Bayern Munich’s to win the treble.
The team captain has consistently been the best player in his position in the last few years, and now will try to become also a star in the more demanding position of center mid.
Sergio Ramos: Real Madrid’s spiritual leader has had the best year of his career, and only the lack of trophies at the club and international level puts them a step behind Silva, David Luiz or Lahm.
His performance in the semi final of the Champions League last season against Borussia Dortmund was legendary.
Ramos scored the first goal of the team as they tried to come back from an almost impossible 4-1 defeat in Germany, and he pushed the team forward until the last minute trying to get the needed goals to qualify.
He was inches away from netting a header in the last minute that would have seen the team in final, and his tears after the match was one of the most commented images of the year.
In 2014, he wants to make sure to get the chance to win his first Champions League and will also prove key in Spain’s chances in Brazil 2014.
David Luiz: This talented Brazilian found the perfect balance under Rafa Benitez in the second half of the 2012/2013 season, and became one of the best defenders of the year.
His performances were key for Chelsea to win the Europa League versus Benfica, and although Benitez first wanted to place him in the midfield, given his impressive technical skills, he finally dropped him back to the center of defense to team up with John Terry.
FC Barcelona has decided to try and sign him next season, seeing how Thiago Silva’s transfer is quite impossible, and is willing to offer up to 35 million euro to take him to Spain. His prowess is impressive, and 2014, with the World Cup in the middle, could be a definitive year in his career.
Branislav Ivanovic: The Serbian defender has developed like no other defender at Chelsea. He first arrived as promising right defender, and now is amongst the most trustworthy center backs.
During 2013, Ivanovic became a pillar of Chelsea’s defense, confirming the great progress he had seen in 2012.
He was also key in the Europa League victory as he scored the game winner in stoppage time against Benfica with a wonderful header.
With the increasing competitive landscape in the London squad, where Cahill, David Luiz and Terry battle for the two spots in the middle, Ivanovic has returned to the right side, and from there he is now looking to become an ever-present figure on the attack, coming in from the flank. 2014 could be a great year for him.