As Manchester United confirmed the £31m signing of Benfica’s Swedish centre half Victor Lindelof this week, I saw an interesting question asked by one of the MUFC fan accounts on Twitter (which I am seeing more and more of in the last year or so):
Who’s the best Premier League centre half ever?
It got me thinking. With so much money coming in to the league in the past few years, the quality of player has risen massively. However, for all of the tricky wingers and midfield powerhouses that are being signed, the ability to find and sign a top-class defender remains a problem which many clubs have struggled to do – Stones to Manchester City for £50m is perhaps the most obvious case in the last few years, although he has plenty of time to iron out his weaknesses and become a success.
Listed below are the 5 defenders which most people have mentioned and why I think they deserve a shout in this article.
The only defender to still be playing in the Premier League, Terry signed off his last ever game as a Chelsea player by being substituted with a guard of honour by other Chelsea players in the 26th minute of the game against Sunderland on the last day of the season back in May. Having played 713 games, including 578 as captain for the club, his bravery and determination saw the club secure their first Premier League title for decades and also their first ever Champions League win.
Playing alongside John Terry at the heart of the Chelsea defence for several years, Portuguese Carvalho joined the club in the summer of 2004 and formed one of the most formidable partnerships ever seen in Premier League history. So good was the partnership, the club broke the league record for the most amount of clean sheets achieved in one season, not conceding in 21 out of 38 games in the 2004/2005 season under Jose Mourinho – a campaign in which they were crowned champions. More of a ball playing, stylish centre half than Terry, he won many fans during his time at Stamford Bridge, before moving on to Real Madrid.
Signed from Red Star Belgrade in 2006 by Sir Alex Ferguson, the no-nonsense defender formed a fantastic partnership with Rio Ferdinand as they won 5 league titles during his time at Manchester United. Rock solid and throwing himself into tackles and headers on a regular basis, winning the majority of battles he faced, United’s record of 92 clean sheets in 211 Premier League games he played in is an amazing record.
As stated before, Ferdinand’s partnership with Vidic at the heart of Manchester United’s defence for many years was the spine Ferguson needed to build his squad upon to win several trophies, including numerous Premier League wins and a Champions League victory against Chelsea in Moscow in 2008. A record signing from Leeds at the time, Ferdinand arrived at United with a big price tag and even bigger pressure to succeed, given the high-quality centre backs which had played for the club before him – such as Jaap Stam, Steve Bruce and more. With 6 Premier League winners medals to show for his time at the club and 81 caps for England, Ferdinand more than paid back his huge transfer fee
With chants of “he’s only got one knee” ringing around White Hart Lane on a regular basis on a match day, Ledley King was a unique player in the modern age. Ravaged by knee injury after knee injury, there is a sense of what might have been for King, who, despite his injuries, still managed to accumulate 268 appearances over 13 years at Spurs. On his day, King was one of the best centre halves anywhere in Europe. Blessed with an excellent turn of pace and positionally excellent, his displays for England in the European Championships of 2004 showed his class, with a display against France in particular highlighting just what a good player he was. A one club man, his performances for Tottenham over a number of years have ensured he goes down as a club legend. Many ex-professionals from all over the continent have previously said just how good King could’ve been, had he kept consistently fit – with people like Gary Lineker saying “I see Ledley King has announced his retirement from football. A truly wonderful player and credit to his sport. Wish him well. #spurslegend “
Disagree with my choices? Let me know who you think should be included!