Italians love their defenders just as much as Neapolitans enjoy their pizza and Milanese their fashion.
Calcio has established itself as a breeding ground for elite centre-back talent for decades, with some of the game’s greatest, such as Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Gaetano Scirea, carving their legacies on these shores.
The evolution of the sport, even in catenaccio-inspired lands, means that the centre-backs of today differ quite drastically from those of yesteryear. Nevertheless, Serie A remains home to some of the finest defenders in the world.
At Juventus, a club whose recent subjugation of the division was built off the resilience of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci & Co; Matthijs de Ligt is starting to craft his own reputation as one of the best in his position following a difficult start to life in Turin.
The Dutchman’s tough acclimatisation phase, which saw him battle through injury and a pandemic, saw many write the former Ajax skipper off, but De Ligt’s stellar third season with Juve has turned doubters into believers once more.
Where does Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt rank in Serie A’s top 10 centre-backs?
But is De Ligt the best defender Serie A has to offer? In this list, we’ll rank the best ten centre-backs in the division. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!
10. Merih Demiral
Why, oh why did Juventus let this man leave? Demiral had manifested his aggressive brilliance in Turin before injuries saw him become surplus to requirements under Andrea Pirlo’s tutelage.
The young defender then departed for Atalanta following a disappointing Euros campaign with Turkey, but his fine season in Bergamo means La Dea will surely trigger the option to buy clause inserted in his loan contract.
Demiral has looked at home in Gian Piero Gasperini’s watered down, but still pretty aggressive, defensive system which is based around heavy man-orientation. The Turkish international is a stubborn man-marker who thrives in duels. And at 24, there’s still plenty of room for the Juventus loanee to develop and refine his craft.
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