There are two kind of people in this world: those who want Matthijs de Ligt, and liars.
The Ajax wonderkid is being chased by the likes of Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United, and he will almost certainly command an astronomical transfer fee. Only one side can sign him, but those who miss out should not get too down. There are plenty of other exciting defenders to take a look at.
Here are eight centre-backs who should be on everyone’s wish list this summer.
Club: RB Leipzig
It’s testament to France’s youth development that there are plenty of young players who can be described as the future of French football, but Ibrahima Konate is a cut above most.
The RB Leipzig starlet can truly do it all. His huge frame gives him a major advantage in aerial battles, but he also boasts the kind of agility that makes him a nightmare to play against. On the ball, he is a composed dribbler, and his passing has looked incredibly promising at times.
?Arsenal have already been heavily linked with Konate, but there will be plenty of other elite sides who are taking notice of the Frenchman.
Club: RB Leipzig
Whoever has been in charge of RB Leipzig’s recruitment in recent years deserves a medal, their own TV show and a statue in Leipzig city centre.
Shortly before Konate arrived, ?Dayot Upamecano made his way to the club. Like his teammate, Upamecano is the perfect embodiment of a modern centre-back. He uses his speed and power to dominate opponents and loves to burst into midfield with the ball at his feet, often helping his side move forward and break down stubborn opponents.
He previously told ?UEFA that he looks up to ?Real Madrid star ?Raphael Varane, and comparisons between the two are clear to see. Can somebody please sign at least one of Konate or Upamecano, before Leipzig boast the most dominant defensive line of all time?
Club: OGC Nice
Malang Sarr is just 20 years old, but he already has 99 appearances for OGC Nice under his belt. Since his breakthrough in 2017, Sarr’s development has been accelerated and there is a real belief that he could be yet another future French star.
Sarr’s decision-making is incredible, and he can often be seen pushing up into the opponents’ half to put pressure on a midfielder. Further back, he is comfortable drifting out into wider positions to track tricky wingers, and he boasts the passing skills to set his side off on a quick counter attack once he recovers possession.
He is by no means the finished product, but his sky-high potential is clear to see. He would be far cheaper than De Ligt, but could blossom into everything you’d expect the Dutchman to be.
Club: Athletic Bilbao
Athletic Bilbao have plenty of exciting youngsters in their ranks, but Peru Nolaskoain is one of the brightest stars. A midfielder by trade, the Spaniard has recently proven his ability in defence, and many teams will certainly have taken notice.
Another of those who can do a bit of everything, Nolaskoain’s experience as a midfielder has helped improve his passing, whilst his defensive ability is also incredibly impressive. There’s not a lot that Nolaskoain can’t do.
Despite impressing for the senior team last season, minutes have been hard to come by for Nolaskoain, and a chance to perfect his craft elsewhere could be an intriguing proposition for the youngster.
Injuries tried their hardest to derail Luiz Felipe’s development last season, but the 22-year-old stayed strong and enjoyed another impressive campaign.
Italy have fought to win his international allegiance from Brazil, and it’s easy to see why. He is a born leader, rarely shying away from barking orders at his senior teammates. His vision on the pitch is astounding, and he always seems to be able to sniff out danger before most.
?Tottenham Hotspur have chased him in recent years, but they will certainly not be alone in their admiration of Felipe.
Club: Bayer Leverkusen?
One of the biggest positives about signing De Ligt is the fact that he could waltz straight into the first team and keep his place there for the next ten years. The same can be said for Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah.
The 23-year-old is already one of Germany’s top defenders, using his stunning blend of speed and power to dominate opponents. His tackling and positioning is fantastic, and history has shown us that Tah has plenty more years before he is even supposed to reach his peak, which is a frightening concept.
He’s only going to get better, and his price tag is only going to increase. It’s time for interested sides to act, before they end up ruing their missed opportunity.
The likes of Arsenal, ?Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have been in pursuit of Espanyol’s Mario Hermoso in recent months, which is evidence of just how impressive the 23-year-old has been.
An excellent tackler, Hermoso’s most intriguing attribute is certainly his long passing. Regardless of where his teammates are on the field, Hermoso knows he can find them, which adds an exciting dynamic to his side’s play.
Being discarded by Los Blancos as a youngster has clearly not impacted his quality, as Hermoso plays as if he truly believes he is one of the finest young defenders around. In his defence, he’s not wrong.
Jason Denayer was tipped for big things as part of ?Manchester City’s academy, but always seemed to be a step short from making it at the top level. Since his permanent switch to Lyon last summer, he has taken that step.
The Belgian has blossomed into an incredibly disciplined defender who is comfortable leading a top side. Another of those with imposing speed and power, Denayer has been a dominant aerial force for years, whilst his passing ability is one of the things which tempted City to sign him back in 2013.
Everything with Denayer is done at a high tempo, as he plays the ball out of defence with urgency in an attempt to score goals. He still has plenty of time to improve, but he is already good enough to make it a the highest level.