There was a long time ago when the great European football teams attacked with five strikers, games tended to be unstable and a multitude of goals made the chronicles of the time epic. However, this is now a sport where technique matters less than tactics, a sport where physicality prevails over talent and defenses are vital to make a team champion. The center-backs are fundamental pieces in the structure of the templates and, as such, their relevance has a direct impact on the transfer market. This summer, except for offensive exceptions such as those of Lewandowski, Raphinha or Haaland, the big transfers are being carried out by defenders for whom 30, 40 and 50 million euros are being paid. Matthijs de Ligt a boy who, despite being only 22 years old, has already moved more than 150 million in transfers, has left Juventus to join Bayern Munich in exchange for 67 million; Koundé it has become the most expensive sale in the history of Sevilla (50 million to Barcelona); Lisandro Martinez he has arrived at Old Trafford for 57… The list is extensive; centrals are trading higher.
M. de Ligt (Bavaria) 67 M.
L. Martínez (M. United) 57 M.
J. Koundé (Barcelona) 50 M.
G. Bremer (Juventus) 40 M.
K. Koulibaly (Chelsea)38 M.
S. Botman (Newcastle) 37 M.
N. Aguerd (West Ham) 35 M.
D. Carlos (Aston Villa) 31 M.
This dynamic of the star defender was born decades ago with the figures, among others, of Franz Beckenbauer, Daniel Passarella or Bobby Moore; but it was in the 90s and the early 2000s when it became common for some central defenders to become absolute references for their teams. Cases of In this y Maldini in Milan, Koeman at Barcelona or Lucio at Bayer Leverkusen attest to this. But the definitive evidence, the straw that broke the camel’s back so that the defender could become the protagonist of the story, took place in the fall of 2006, when Fabio Cannavaro he was awarded the Ballon d’Or. The Neapolitan arrived at the World Cup in Germany as Juventus’ flagship, was key in Italy’s fourth World Cup success and, at his highest peak of fame, signed for Real Madrid that summer. As a consequence of his work with his national team, ‘France Football’ recognized him as the best player in the world that year. A short time later, in his wake, names like Rio Ferdinand, Sergio Ramos o Virgil van Dijk. The seed had been planted.
Consequence of the exorbitant economic drift that hit football in the last five years, several of the largest clubs on the planet began to spend authentic barbarities on centrals. Lucas Hernandez became in 2019 the most expensive signing in the history of a giant like Bayern (80 million euros), Van Dijk is from Liverpool (85 million) or Harry Maguire -yes, Maguire- is, after Paul Pogba, the most extensive transfer of Manchester United (87 million received the lucky Leicester).
The pandemic damaged the major leagues and, although soccer as a lucrative product is on the mend, the wound has not yet healed. Transfers of around 100 million euros are becoming less frequent and many teams decide to wait for the stars to finish their contracts to urge them to change clubs through a transfer bonus. It’s what Real Madrid did with Alaba a year ago and has repeated this summer with another center-back, Rudigertwo of the most valued defenders today.
However, in the current transfer market, the fever for central defenders has resurfaced and large amounts are being paid for them. To date there have been eight transfers that have exceeded 30 million. In addition to De Ligt, Koundé and Lisandro Martínez, the incorporation of the former Sevilla player stands out diego charles to Aston Villa (31 million) or the new reinforcement of Juventus, Bremer (40 million has paid the Fiat club to its neighbors in Torino).
Leicester ask 100 million for Wesley Fofana
After losing to Barça in the fight for Koundé, Chelsea are seeking the incorporation of Wesley Fofana to accompany Thiago Silva and Koulibaly (recently signed from Napoli) in the defense of three central defenders proposed by Tuchel. However, Leicester, who initially declared the 21-year-old Marseilles non-transferable, claims around 100 million euros for a transfer that seems long and complex. In the bedroom of the Stamford Bridge is If Guardiolpearl of Leipzig who could leave eastern Germany for 35 million.
The figure of the lane
Another increasingly relevant defensive position is that of the lane. Essential in the offensive game, for this type of wide player, 38 million have already been paid this summer for Nuno Mendes (PSG) or 35 per Zinchenko (Arsenal). But the best example is the Spanish Marc Cucurella that, after a great campaign at Brighton, Chelsea will pay more than 50 million for his services.