5 Most Valuable Defenders In The World In 2024: Arsenal Center-Back William Saliba Rises To The Top

Arsenal Ace William Saliba
Arsenal Ace William Saliba

Historically, defenders have not enjoyed the same fanfare as their attack-minded counterparts. They have a long history of being undervalued and underpaid, with teams rarely agreeing to splurge as much on them as they do on forwards and midfielders.

The story has changed drastically over the last few years. Defenders are seen as an equally important cog in teams, which has boosted their valuation and wages. Today, we will take a look at the greatest examples of the market’s relatively newfound admiration for defenders. Continue reading to meet the five most valuable defenders in the world:

Valuation & statistics: Transfermarkt & FBRef

#5 Alessandro Bastoni (Inter Milan): €70 million ($76.12 million)

Alessandro Bastoni Is One Of The Most Valuable Defenders In The World
Alessandro Bastoni Has A Long-Term Contract With Inter Milan

Inter Milan center-back Alessandro Bastoni has claimed the fifth spot, owing to his lofty €70 million ($76.12 million) valuation. Only 24, Bastoni has his best years ahead of him, and his long-term contract with Inter — until June 30, 2028 — means he will likely play them out in Milan itself. However, if any team wants to prize him away, they could realistically have to pay around $100 million for his services.

The former Parma man has been in fine form for Inter this season. Playing 21 matches in Serie A, Bastoni has scored once, claimed an assist, won 24 tackles, made 18 blocks, and intercepted the ball 19 times.

#4 Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich): €70 million ($76.12 million)

Bayern Munich Man Alphonso Davies Is One Of The Most Valuable Defenders
Alphonso Davies Has Won 5 Bundesliga Titles

The only full-back to make the cut, Alphonso Davies is worth €70 million ($76.12 million) as of March 15, 2024. The Canadian high-flier has attained such an astonishing valuation despite having just 15 months remaining on his Bayern Munich contract.

The 23-year-old, who is reportedly closing in on a switch to Real Madrid, has scored once and provided three assists in 20 Bundesliga appearances this season. Coming to defensive attributes, the jet-heeled left-back has won 18 tackles, blocked 19 passes, intercepted 21 deliveries, and performed 33 clearances.

#3 Josko Gvardiol (Manchester City): €75 million ($81.56 million)

Josko Gvardiol Is One Of The Most Valuable Defenders In The World
At $97.12 Million, Josko Gvardiol Is Manchester City’s Most Expensive Defensive Signing In History

Josko Gvardiol, who joined Manchester City for a whopping €90 million ($97.87 million) from RB Leipzig last summer, is the third name on this list. The 22-year-old, who caught everyone’s attention with stellar performances for Croatia at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is worth €75 million ($81.56 million). His contract with the Cityzens runs until June 2028.

Gvardiol has performed well in his debut season in the Premier League. He has yet to score or assist but has been spot-on with his defensive actions. In 18 league outings, the Croatian center-back has won 21 tackles, made 20 blocks — 9 shots, 11 passes — intercepted 20 passes, and performed 24 clearances.

#2 Ruben Dias (Manchester City): €80 million ($87 million)

Ruben Dias Is The Joint-Most Valuable Defender In The World
Manchester City Captain Ruben Dias

Manchester City captain Ruben Dias has clinched the second spot ahead of his partner-in-crime Josko Gvardiol. The Portuguese, who took home the Premier League Player of the Season Award in the 2020-21 season, is valued at a cool €80 million ($87 million) by Transfermarkt. Dias, 26, sees his Manchester City contract expire on June 30, 2027.

Dias, who leads his teammates by example, has been in top shape in the English top flight in the 2023-24 season. Playing 21 Premier League games, Dias has created two goalscoring opportunities, won 12 tackles, blocked a whopping 13 shots, cleared the ball 69 times, and made 22 interceptions.

#1 William Saliba (Arsenal): €80 million ($87 million)

Arsenal defender William Saliba Is The Joint-Most Valuable Defender In The World
Arsenal defender William Saliba Has Been In Excellent Form This Season

Receiving a €10 million ($10.87 million) bump since Transfermarket’s last evaluation, Arsenal center-back William Saliba has announced himself as the most valuable defender in the world. The French dynamite is worth a handsome €80 million ($87 million) in today’s market. The 22-year-old is contractually tied to Arsenal until June 30, 2027.

Saliba, whose injury took a monumental toll on Arsenal’s title challenge in the 2022-23 season, has played every single Premier League match this season. In 28 appearances, Saliba has scored twice and provided an assist. Turning attention to his defensive exploits, Saliba has won 17 tackles, blocked 11 shots, made 21 interceptions, and performed an impressive 57 clearances.

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