Centre-backs look set to be in huge demand this summer with some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs targeting defensive reinforcements, perhaps each of the top six – bar Manchester City – in need of further backline depth or quality.
Several stars are set to be on the move and the availability of some fine defenders is sure to have Europe’s elite scrambling for their signatures, and we’ve decided to look at some of the very best who could be available in the summer window.
Here are five centre-backs big clubs will be battling to sign this summer:
Sergio Ramos’ future at Real Madrid is once again uncertain with the club captain yet to sign a new deal, the centre-back’s current contract set to expire in the summer with Europe’s superpowers monitoring the stand-off in negotiations.
We have, of course, been down this road before with Ramos having previously flirted with the idea of leaving the Spanish giants only to pen a new – and often improved – new contract at the Bernabeu.
However, the 34-year-old is now in the twilight of a glittering career and Real’s desperation to keep him may not be as high as in previous years, with Los Blancos only willing to compromise on a two-year deal if Ramos signs on reduced wages.
Ramos has been an unmistakable figure in the club’s history and has won five league titles and four Champions League crowns amongst his honours, though the current lack of progress in negotiations could lead to offers from elsewhere.
Despite his advancing years Ramos remains a fine footballer and would add undoubted leadership and character to any interested party, Paris Saint-Germain having been strongly linked with the Spain international.
Manchester United are also long-term admirers and are searching for centre-back additions this summer, and Ramos could be tempted by one final challenge after 16 years at the Bernabeu.
The smart money would perhaps be on Ramos renewing and finishing his career in the Spanish capital, but strangers things have happened with Europe’s elite forming an orderly queue.
David Alaba looks set to leave Bayern Munich this summer following a breakdown in contract talks, the Bundesliga champions unwilling to match the defender’s demands with his current deal set to expire this summer.
Alaba is one of world football’s finest defenders and has spent the entirety of his senior career at Bayern, winning nine league titles and two Champions League trophies during a dominant era for the Bavarians.
The 28-year-old is at the peak of his career and his multi-faceted talents will appeal to world football’s biggest clubs, Alaba comfortable at left-back, centrally and further forward in midfield.
Chelsea and Liverpool have been linked with the Austria international but it is Real Madrid who remain favourites for his signature, the Spanish champions in search of defensive additions amid uncertainty over the futures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.
However, speculation has emerged that Premier League sides have been put off a move for the defender given his excessive wage demands, figures which would make Alaba the highest-paid player at either Stamford Bridge or Anfield.
Amongst the most attractive options available this summer and a name that has regularly been linked with a move to the Premier League in recent seasons, Dayot Upamecano is expected to leave RB Leipzig at the end of the season.
The France international is regarded as one of the best young defenders in world football and possesses a release clause in his contract that will become active this summer, sparking a scramble to secure his services amongst Europe’s leading clubs.
Each of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ have been linked with the 22-year-old who will cost a reasonable €42m at the season’s end, though Bayern Munich are thought to be the frontrunners as the German giants continue to cherry-pick talents from their Bundesliga rivals.
Upamecano is a centre-back blessed with pace and an ability to start attacks from deep, ranking amongst the Bundesliga’s leading defenders for pass completion and often stepping into midfield confidently.
🥶 Dayot Upamecano has only committed one error leading to an opposition goal in 102 Bundesliga appearances in his career
🗞️ The RB Leipzig centre-back is in demand for the summer pic.twitter.com/LaAyNcVEoe
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 10, 2021
The youngster has shown versatility in playing in both a back three and back four at Leipzig, and his recovery pace would offer a huge asset to any side looking to play a high defensive line and squeeze the pitch.
Athletic, imposing and confident in possession, Upamecano has all the attributes required to thrive at the highest level and it would come as little surprise to see several sides activate his release clause later this year.
Real Madrid are understood to hold concerns regarding the long-term future of Raphael Varane with the defender yet to agree terms on a new deal at the Bernabeu, his current contract set to expire in 2022 with no breakthrough in talks over an extension.
The Spanish giants are believed to be willing to listen to offers for the 27-year-old this summer should he decide against signing a new contract, rather than risk the prospect of losing the World Cup winner on a free transfer.
Varane is regarded amongst the very best centre-backs in the game and has enjoyed a glittering career in Madrid, winning four Champions League trophies during a dominant period on the European stage for Los Blancos.
Recent reports have suggested a fee of around €50m could be enough to sign the France international with just a year remaining on his contract, a figure that will likely have some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs battling fiercely for his signature.
Varane is a player capable of instantly improving any side in world football and remains at the very peak of his powers, Chelsea and Manchester United long-term admirers of a player who could decide on a new challenge after a decade of success in Spain.
Varane would be a statement addition to any side in need of defensive reinforcements, though Premier League suitors will face interest from elsewhere in Europe with PSG and Juventus also linked.
Upamecano’s centre-back partner at RB Leipzig has emerged as an attractive alternative to his in-demand teammate, with Manchester United understood to have joined Liverpool and Chelsea in tracking Ibrahima Konate.
Konate is amongst a collection of talented young players to have come through the Red Bull production line and has won plaudits for his progress at the Bundesliga side, the Frenchman an imposing physical presence and dominant in one-against-one contests.
The 21-year-old is a more orthodox defender than the ball-playing Upamecano and can better his teammate for aerial duels won per game this season, though his injury problems may raise concerns for potential suitors.
The centre-back has featured just 14 times in the Bundesliga over the past 18 months following hip and ankle issues and sides will want to see a return to full fitness before making their move.
Konate’s form in the 2018/19 campaign is an indication of his talent, however, leading Leipzig for duels won, interceptions and shots blocked in what proved the Bundesliga’s best defence.
Already experienced at the highest level and possessing huge room for further improvement, Konate’s reported release clause of €40m could prove a shrewd investment for any leading club.