Defenders do not usually get the glory like the strikers, but they are absolutely vital for a team to be successful. At the moment there are a lot of very talented young defenders plying their trade at top clubs around the world.
Below is a rundown of 5 centre backs under 22 years old who have the potential to become world class.
He is 21 years old and currently plays for Champions League finalist Atletico Madrid. Giménez’s big break came in the 2014-2015 season when he usurped experienced Brazilian defender Miranda in Atletico’s defence and has not looked back since.
He is a typical Uruguayan defender: rugged, uncompromising, aggressive and tough. But he has the technical ability to match his aggressiveness in the air and in the tackle. Plus, he plays with confidence and maturity belying his years.
Basically, he is a younger version of Diego Godín.
This is why he is one of the most sought-after young defenders in world football.
Tah moved to Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2015 from Hamburg and has since gone on to establish himself as the best young centre-back in Germany. As a modern defender, he has excellent distribution and confidence to bring the ball out.
At 190.5 cm (6′ 3″), Tah is very strong and fast, making him a difficult proposition for opposing strikers to overcome.
He is reminiscent of a young Rio Ferdinand or Vincent Kompany. So it will not be long before we see him joining one of Europe‘s elite clubs and leading Germany’s defence.
Christensen is 20 years old and in his second year on loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach from Chelsea. He is an unflappable centre-half, who is composed no matter the situation.
Despite his position, he is rarely booked and does not commit many fouls. This is a testament to his excellent reading of the game and inch-perfect tackling.
Additionally, he is very accurate with long range passing like Leonardo Bonucci and Dante (during his time at Bayern Munich). This is a unique skill for a defender which makes him stand out.
Expect Christensen to be back in the heart of Chelsea‘s defence, come this time next season.
Riedewald is another off the Ajax production line. He is intelligent on and off the ball and is able to combine this with his agility and speed. This makes him one of the top young centre-halves in Europe.
He has been compared to Dutch legend Frank Rijkaard for a reason and should the 20-year-old continue to improve over the next couple of seasons, it would not be surprising to see him turn out for Barcelona. He would fit in there perfectly.
A.C. Milan forked out 25 million euros for Romagnoli this summer despite only 13 appearances for Roma. This shows how highly he is thought of in Italy, with many considering him to be the second coming of Italian hero Alessandro Nesta.
He is dominant in the air, a strong tackler and also a decent passer of the ball. The 21-year-old has that Italian DNA so he focuses on defending first and putting his body on the line for a clean sheet.
If Milan are fortunate enough to keep hold of Romagnoli, he will be key in returning them to the summit of Italian and European football.