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The rising importance of Centre Backs in the modern game

Over the past decade or so, we have seen a considerable rise and an over-inflated market where players seem to be going for astronomical sums of money. While many may hate this trend, it still allows players and managers to have a much more comfortable life.

There is also a big change in the way the game is played. Many of the top teams are now preferring to play out and build systematic attacks from the back rather than just hurling the ball upfront with the hope that someone will get at the end of it.

This has changed the perception of what a centre back must bring to the team in terms of his skills and technical ability. While aerial ability has always been a necessary trait, many of the modern-day centre backs are expected to spray those inch-perfect long balls again and again to create an attacking threat.

Along with that they are also expected to be calm and composed when they have the ball with them. The ‘Ball Playing’ defender is becoming a relatively common term. The big teams have spent enormous amounts of cash when it comes to acquiring such players with Liverpool and Man City being some of the prominent ones.

Their aerial ability is not only expected to help them defend set-pieces but also give them an edge in the opposition box. The modern-day defenders have become much more pivotal in their role. They are not only the last line of defence but also the very first line of offence acting like a deranged playmaker from the back.

With such importance given to the positional play of the defenders, there has also been an increase in the want for left-footed centre backs as many clubs are trying to get their hands on such prime assets to bolster their tactical prowess.

My point is further accentuated by the kind of money that teams are willing to pay for the modern-day centre back. The substantial transfer fees of Virgil Van Djik and Harry Maguire should help prove this point.

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