When the question “Who is the best footballer in the world?” arises, the answer in most cases will be the likes of Lionel Messi, Mo Salah, Mbappe, and Lewandowski – all who are attackers.
Those in defensive positions do not get enough recognition due to their roles being underrated. Regardless, for a team to succeed, its defenders must equally be as quality as its attackers.
With that in mind, here's a list of the ten best-paid defenders in the world today.
10. Sergio Ramos (PSG) - £220,000 Per Week
Arguably one of the greatest defenders of all time, Sergio Ramos is one of few footballers to master the art of defending to the letter.
Sergio Ramos was crucial member of the Real Madrid team since 2005 after joining them from Sevilla. Starting out as a right back in the early years of his career then transitioning into a centre back, his prowess as a defender is rivalled by few.
His contract with Real Madrid expired in 2021, where he was forced to join PSG on a free transfer. He is one of PSG’s highest earners – earning over £400,000 per week. His net worth in 2023 is estimated to be $80 million.
9. Virgil van Djik (Liverpool) – £220,000 Per Week
Arguably the best centre-back in the world right now, Virgil van Djik joined Liverpool from Southampton in the 2017/18 winter transfer window.
Liverpool paid £75 million for his services making him the most expensive defender in the history of the Premier League at the time.
His arrival at Anfield solidified Liverpool’s defense that had a long reputation of being vulnerable.
He was clutch as Liverpool won the UEFA Champions League in 2019 and English Premier League in 2020.
The Dutch man won the UEFA Men’s Player of the year in 2018 and finished runner up for the Ballon d’Or and the Best FIFA Men’s player award 2019.
He recently extended his contract with Liverpool until 2025. His current weekly wage is £220,000.
8. Lucas Hernandez (PSG) - £238,000 Per Week
Although his career with Bayern hasn’t been as glamourous due injury problems, Lucas Hernandez is undoubtedly a majestic defender.
He was part of Atletico Madrid team that reached the 2016 UEFA Champions league final and won the Europa league in 2018.
He also played as a left-back for France as they won the 2018 FIFA World cup, beating Croatia 4-2 in the final.
On 27 March 2019, Bayern Munich announced that Hernandez would join the club on 1 July 2019 for a club record (and Bundesliga record) fee of €80 million, signing a five-year contract lasting until 2024.
7. Marquinhos (PSG) - £250,000 Per Week
Marquinhos arrived at PSG in 2013 from AS Roma. He has steadily grown as one of the best in his position and a stalwart for PSG.
The 27-year-old Brazilian is the current captain of the Ligue 1 side, a position he has held since the departure of Thiago Silva in 2020.
His contract with the Parisians runs until 2024. His weekly wage of £250,000 makes him one of the best paid players in France.
6. John Stones (Manchester City) - £250,000 Per Week
Manchester city acquired John Stones from Everton for a reported fee of £47.6 million in 2016. The centre-back was highlighted as a future star and an impressive signing for City.
Stones was a crucial member of Manchester city team that won the Premier league in the 2020/21 season, having forged a remarkable partnership with Ruben Dias at the back.
His current contract runs until 2026 and he stands to earn an average annual salary of £13 million.
5. Reece James (Chelsea) - £250,000 Per Week
Reece James recently eastablished himself as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League.
His excellent performances attracted some of Europe's biggest clubs, but Chelsea acted fast and tied his to a 6-year contract in 2022 until 2028 and his wages were also doubled.
James joined Chelsea aged 6, although he had a short stint at Fulham.
4. Mathisj De Ligt (Bayern Munich) - £280,000 Per Week
De Ligt announced himself to the world in 2018, at the time he was the captain of the Ajax team that surprisingly reached the UEFA champions league semi-final.
Juventus splashed out a £67.5 million transfer fee to sign the Dutch centre-back from Ajax in 2019.
In 2022 he joined Bayern Munich in a £68 million deal after three years with Juve where he made 117 appearances.
3. Raphael Varane (Manchester United) - £340,000 Per Week
Varane is considered one of the best centre-backs of his generation thanks to his trophy laden spell at Bernabeu. He won 3 Laliga titles, four UEFA Champions league titles and four FIFA Club World cups with Real Madrid.
He was also integral as France won the 2018 FIFA World cup in Russia.
The France international made a £40 million move from Bernabeu to Old Trafford in the 2021 summer transfer window.
Manchester United will be pay Varane £17.6 million per year, which is triple what he was earning at Real Madrid making him one of the best paid footballers in the Premier League.
2. David Alaba (Real Madrid) - £370,000 Per Week
David Alaba established himself as one of the best defenders in the world during his time at Bayern Munich.
The Austrian won 10 Bundesliga titles, 2 UEFA Champions league titles and 2 FIFA Club world cups at Allianz arena.
His tenure with the Bavarians came to an end in 2021 after failing to extend his contract, hence moving to Real Madrid on a free transfer.
At Real Madrid, Alaba will earn 19.47 euros per season, with his contract expiring in 2026 and his release clause set at 845 million euros.
1. Kalidou Koulibaly (Al-Hilal) - £412,000 Per Week
Al-Hilal has successfully secured the services of Kalidou Koulibaly from Chelsea in a deal amounting to £21.5 million. Remarkably, Koulibaly had only joined Chelsea the previous summer, yet his participation during the 2022-23 season was limited, tallying a mere 23 appearances.
Koulibaly's transition to Chelsea occurred through a significant £34 million transaction with Napoli, signifying the inception of a fresh era at Stamford Bridge under the ownership of Todd Boehly. Impressively, his journey at Napoli spanned 8 years, during which he accumulated over 300 appearances and garnered distinction by earning a place in the Serie A Team of the Year on four distinct occasions. Notably, he also achieved the accolade of Italy's top defender in 2019.