The 29 defenders BETTER than Virgil van Dijk

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • 26 Feb 2024 08:52 CST
  • 3 min read
William Saliba, Virgil van Dijk, Arsenal, Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk was the hero of Liverpool’s Carabao Cup victory over Chelsea on Sunday.

Not only did the centre-back score the winning goal in extra-time, he had a goal disallowed during the first half and marshalled his team to victory.

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Van Dijk’s performance led to claims on social media that he is the best in the world currently, with some fans even getting carried away by suggesting he is the best of all time.

But what does the data say? Surprisingly, the 32-year-old Liverpool star does not fare so well.

FootballTransfers’ list of the best defenders in the world is compiled with SciSports, which analyses hundreds of in-game data points to produce a definitive list of the best in the world.

Virgil van Dijk celebrates Carabao Cup success
© IMAGO - Virgil van Dijk celebrates Carabao Cup success

The best defenders in the world

Surprisingly, coming out on top is Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni, with the 24-year-old edging Manchester City’s John Stones into second spot.

The leading places are dominated by Premier League players, with Ruben Dias completing the podium ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is Liverpool’s leading entry in fourth.

Arsenal’s starting back four are all in the top 10, with William Saliba, Ben White, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel making the grade in that order.

1Alessandro BastoniInter
2John StonesMan City
3Ruben DiasMan City
4Trent Alexander-ArnoldLiverpool
5William SalibaArsenal
6Ben WhiteArsenal
7Oleksandr ZinchenkoArsenal
8Antonio RudigerReal Madrid
9Kyle WalkerMan City
11Theo HernandezMilan
12Joachim AndersenCrystal Palace
14Fiyako TomoriMilan
15Pau TorresAston Villa
16Jose Maria GimenezAtletico Madrid
17Alejandro GrimaldoBayer Leverkusen
18Alphonso DaviesBayern
19Jules KoundeBarcelona
20Dan BurnNewcastle
21Ezri KonsaAston Villa
22Andreas ChristensenBarcelona
23Tyrick MitchellCrystal Palace
24Jeremie FrimpongBayer Leverkusen
25Ferland MendyReal Madrid
26Tyrone MingsAston Villa
27Benjamin PavardInter
28Eder MilitaoReal Madrid
29Denzel DumfriesInter
30Virgil van DijkLiverpool

LaLiga’s best defender, meanwhile, is Real Madrid’s Antonio Rudiger while the first Bundesliga entry does not come until Alejandro Grimaldo in 17th.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the list is that Van Dijk does not appear until 30th.

This comparatively low rating is, no doubt, something of a hangover from the difficult 2022/23 campaign, but the Dutchman has rebuilt his form and confidence this term, which has been reflected in a positive leap in his SciSkill rating that is described as “significant”.

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