Seasons across Europe are rapidly coming to an end, and of course that means that transfer rumors are abuzz. Multiple high-profile players are winding down their contracts, and some top prospects too. This means clubs are already scouting replacements for the upcoming season.
Many are focusing on center-backs. Manchester United will be looking at the market off the back of the worst defensive season of their Premier League history. Chelsea’s new owners will likely invest in center-backs, with the club’s top two leaving this summer for free. German champions Bayern Munich will be losing one of their top center-backs for free as well.
This means that selling clubs may charge premium fees for their top defenders, and some clubs will look for cheaper options. However, the price to pay can be worth it, as Liverpool surely know. They broke the transfer record for a defender when signing Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, who has taken them directly to the top since arriving. But who are some center-backs having great seasons?
Gleison Bremer, 25, Torino
A name now well-known across all of Europe, Gleison Bremer has had a spectacular season with Torino. Bremer has played all but three of Torino’s games as the Italian side have allowed 31 fewer goals this season than last, albeit with two games remaining. Statistically, Bremer excels: he has the most successful pressures, blocks, and clearances, as well as the second most interceptions in the Serie A.
The Brazilian is getting plenty of attention, with interest in England and Germany. Because of this, it’s unlikely that he’ll stay with Torino. The ideal fit for Bremer would be Chelsea, who are losing both of their starting center-backs this summer.
Martin Hinteregger, 29, Eintracht
Unfortunately, Martin Hinteregger recently picked up an injury and will miss the rest of the season. This includes the Europa League final, which would be his first final since he left Austria. Regardless, it’s been a fine season for the Austrian, who has been one of the top Bundesliga defenders when healthy.
Eintracht have turned down plenty of offers for the big defender since he arrived in Frankfurt, and it’s unlikely he’ll move this summer. He’s a major part of the reason I think Eintracht have a chance to win the Bundesliga next season, and losing him would be a massive blow. He’d still be an ideal choice for some ambitious Premier League clubs, such as West Ham.
Fikayo Tomori, 24, AC Milan
English center-back Fikayo Tomori is a huge part of why AC Milan are challenging for their first league title since 2011. The former Chelsea man is top twenty in most Serie A defensive categories and top ten in interceptions, while also making no goal-costing errors so far this season. Milan have only three wins in the seven games he’s missed.
Tomori might be priced out of a move due to AC Milan’s recent success and the fact that this is his first season under contract with Milan. Next season, Milan will again challenge for the league title, and possibly even Champions League, so Tomori won’t be in a hurry to move. Still, there’s no reason a wealthy, rebuilding club like Manchester United or even Newcastle shouldn’t be after him.
Konstantinos Mavropanos, 24, Vfb Stuttgart
Currently on his second season on loan at Stuttgart, Mavropanos is technically an Arsenal player. However, the Greek has barely played in London and not since 2019, and is pretty much good as gone. Regardless, he’s been a top player for a struggling Stuttgart side, with the most blocks in the Bundesliga and fourth-most interceptions.
Don’t expect Mavropanos to return to Arsenal, and Stuttgart likely won’t be able to afford him. West Ham are reportedly showing interest as they attempt to add some center-back depth. He’d also be a good deal for Juventus, who have to replace their aging defensive pair of Chiellini and Bonucci.
Stefan Posch, 24, Hoffenheim
The second Austrian on this list, Posch is having a strong season for a Hoffenheim defense ravaged by injuries. He’s been a top 20 defender for much of the Bundesliga season, as his stats suggest. More telling is that Hoffenheim have not won any of the six matches he’s missed and have only tied two.
Posch has been at Hoffenheim since 2015, but surely he must be thinking about moving to a bigger club at some point. Bayern Munich ought to be interested, with the club lacking in depth at the position. Freiburg should also consider him as they attempt to replace Dortmund-bound Nico Schlotterbeck.
While many focus on attackers, center-backs are among the most important players. Manchester United’s center-backs are receiving criticism as the team sinks to lower depths. Meanwhile, Liverpool and Real Madrid’s strong center-back recruiting led them to the Champions League final. With higher emphasis placed on center-backs, these five options will be interesting to watch as the transfer window progresses.
Image courtesy of Steindy (talk) 16:03, 10 November 2016 (UTC), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
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