Who is the best centre-back in the Premier League?
The Premier League will get underway on August 13th this year.
Manchester City will head into the competition looking to defend their crown, which they won with relative ease last time around.
However, City will face some stiff competition from Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea, a revitalised Liverpool and an improving Manchester United.
Whichever team does lift the Premier League this time around will, of course, need a solid backline.
Man City won the 2020/21 campaign boasting the best defensive record, as did Liverpool the season prior.
And, at the heart of any good backline is at least one top-quality central defender. But who is currently the best stopper in the English top-flight?
101 take a look at the 10 best currently plying their trade in the Premier League ahead of the season getting underway.
10) Ibrahima Konate, Liverpool
Liverpool had serious issues at centre-back last term with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all facing lengthy spells out.
However, the Reds should be much better prepared for a centre-back crisis this year after securing the services of Ibrahima Konate.
Konate joined the Merseysiders from RB Leipzig, where he had grown into one of the most promising young centre-backs across Europe under Julian Nagelsman.
Konate is fast, tall, powerful and great with the ball at his feet, making him the ideal partner for Van Dijk in Jurgen Klopp's high-pressing system.
And whilst Konate still has room to grow and improve, he should have few issues adapting to the Premier League under Van Dijk's tutelage.
9) Ben White, Arsenal
Ben White had a very impressive debut campaign in the Premier League.
After standing out on loan at Leeds in their promotion-winning campaign, White would be then handed a starting berth by Brighton boss Graham Potter in 2020/21.
And despite having no top-flight experience before this past season, White instantly began to shine for the Seagulls.
White is a fast, agile young defender who is excellent with the ball at his feet and will no doubt only continue to grow as a player in 2021/22.
White's solid form for Brighton also saw him earn a spot in Gareth Southgate's Euro 2020 squad and a 50 million pound move to Arsenal.
8) Wesley Fofana, Leicester City
When he signed for Leicester City last summer, Wesley Fofana had just 30 senior club appearances to his name.
As a result, the Foxes' fans were likely not expecting the 20-year-old to feature so heavily.
However, Fofana would go on to shock many with his confident, aggressive style of play that saw him make a great partner for Jonny Evans or Caglar Soyuncu, or see him form a key part of a Leicester back-three, with the youngster often stepping up to disrupt play.
Whilst Fofana may not be the best centre-back in the division right now, he does look to have an incredibly bright future.
7) Thiago Silva, Chelsea
Thiago Silva may now be 36, but he is still proving himself to be a world-class defender.
He is a calm, mature presence which will no doubt be key to seeing Chelsea challenge for the title in the forthcoming campaign.
Even after losing a lot of his pace, his positioning and ability to read the game makes him a nightmare for any attacker.
He would feature higher on this list but he is now unlikely to be playing every game for Chelsea. Silva managed just 23 appearances in the league during 2020/21.
6) Antonio Rudiger, Chelsea
Whilst Man City may have come away with the best defensive record in the league last season, Chelsea were not far behind, shipping just 36 in 38.
The Blues' record may even be slightly more impressive given that they only really began to look solid at the back at the very end of January when Thomas Tuchel took over.
One of the main things Tuchel did on his arrival was to make Antonio Rudiger a regular starter in the league - something he had done just four times under Frank Lampard earlier in 2020/21.
And the German, despite having his future questioned in January, went on to put on a number of stellar showings which he will no doubt repeat this year as well.
In fact, in the games Rudiger has featured under Tuchel in the league, Chelsea have so far conceded just seven goals.
5) John Stones, Manchester City
Ruben Dias may have earned the majority of the plaudits when Man City won the league earlier this year.
But John Stones' role in their title success should also not be ignored.
The Englishman would, after a summer that looked set to see him depart the Etihad, win back favour with the Manchester powerhouse and actually kept Aymeric Laporte out of the team for much of the campaign.
Also, City conceded just 12 goals in the 1,934 minutes that Stones featured in the Premier League last season, conceding only one goal every 161 minutes with him on the pitch.
4) Raphael Varane, Manchester United
For many years now Manchester United have been forced to partner Harry Maguire with an injury-prone Eric Bailly or an unreliable Victor Lindelof.
However, Raphael Varane has now made his way to England, and along with Maguire, should help Man United become one of the best defensive sides in the Premier League in 2021/22.
The Frenchman is a serial winner, picking up countless trophies, including several Champions Leagues, with Real Madrid, and of course the 2018 World Cup with France.
Varane is a fast, powerful defender who should prove to be the ideal partner for Harry Maguire.
3) Harry Maguire, Manchester United
Harry Maguire's move to Manchester United has always been viewed by many as somewhat overpriced and a waste of money.
The Englishman would sign for the Red Devils for 80 million pounds - a world record fee for a central defender.
The last year or so, however, has gone a long way to proving that Maguire may actually be worth that much to Manchester United.
The 28-year-old is head and shoulders above every other United centre-back and is one of the main reasons they finished 2nd last term.
Maguire's importance to Man United can be highlighted by the fact that in their final four games of the PL season, which Maguire missed through injury, Man United would win just one and failed to keep a single clean sheet.
The centre-half was also one of the players of the tournament at Euro 2020, at which England conceded just two goals in seven games.
2) Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool
Liverpool should be once again viewed as one of the favourites for the Premier League, despite their rather patchy 2020/21.
One of the main reasons for this is that Virgil van Dijk is now back from injury.
The Dutchman missed most of 2020/21 after picking up an injury vs Everton and his absence was very much noticeable.
Obviously, Liverpool had more than just van Dijk's injury to contend with last term, but he was by far and away the Reds' biggest miss.
Van Dijk's pace, power, ariel ability and calming presence on the pitch improves everyone around him.
Liverpool would concede 42 goals in the league last time out. 2019/20 and 2018/19 though, saw Jurgen Klopp's men ship just 33 and 22 goals, highlighting just how important van Dijk is to Liverpool.
1) Ruben Dias, Manchester City
Was there really ever going to be anyone else at number one in this list?
Ruben Dias may have only had one season in England, but what a season it was.
City, as already mentioned, won the Premier League last time around boasting the best defensive record in the league. The Sky Blues shipped just 32 across 38 league games.
And Dias was absolutely integral to City greatly improving on their backline, which had looked somewhat shaky since the departure of Vincent Kompany.
The Portuguese played 32 of the Citizens league ties in 2020/21 and in the six he missed, City kept just two clean sheets and shipped three or more goals on two of those occasions - five vs Leicester and three vs Newcastle.
Dias may have only recently turned 24, but his commanding presence brought an air of confidence and calmness to Pep Guardiola's side. And whilst Stones should of course be given some credit for his recent upturn in form, it is hard not to argue Dias did not play a big role in the Englishman improving.
The defenders starring displays would also see him named as the Premier League Player of the Season for 2020/21 - becoming just the 4th defender to pick up the award.