In the past four years, major European clubs have invested heavily in signing defenders, majority of the recruits on evidence of their displays clearly overrated.
Premier League clubs top the list of heavy spenders, Manchester City obviously at the top of the chart. Since 2014, the Citizens have recruited the likes of Eliaquim Mangala-£41.9million, Nicolas Otamendi-£28.4million, John Stones-£47.5million, Danilo-£26.5million, Kyle Walker-£45million and Benjamin Mendy-£49.3million all for a combined staggering total fee of £238.6million.
Neighbours Manchester United in successive seasons have gone out to revamp an unsteady backline, splashing the cash on Ivorian centre-back Eric Bailly £30million and Swedish international Victor Lindelof £30.75milion. Incidentally, both young internationals are 23-years-old but have failed to consistently perform at a high level which justifies the decision of Jose Mourinho to sanction their acquisition to the Premier League giants.
While Bailly can be said to have shown promise and is clearly one for the future if he can cut out the errors, Lindelof in all honesty looks like a fraud following his summer switch from Benfica and his latest shambolic displays at the weekend in the away defeat at Huddersfield Town only highlighted Jose Mourinho’s reluctance in giving him game time in the league, perhaps a silent acceptance of error of judgement on the part of the maverick Portuguese manager.
A few pundits have argued that the Swede is struggling to adapt to the gulf in class between the Portuguese Primeira League and Premier League and will definitely come good when he fully integrates into his new surroundings. That school of thought might sound fair enough but when you recollect Rio Ferdinand who was just a year older than the duo of Bailly and Lindelof when Sir Alex Ferguson paid a then world record fee of £30million for a defender in 2002, it sure looks like a bargain buy in comparism to a combination of central defensive buys at both Manchester clubs in the past four years.
Recounting the AC Milan defence line of 2003-2007, added to a few illustrious defenders such as Ferdinand, John Terry, Nemanja Vidic, Sammy Kuffour, and a host of other world class defenders you realise the depth in deterioration in the art of defending when names such as Jerome Boateng, David Luiz, Gerad Pique, Stones are being brandished as some of the standout defenders of this generation.
Honourable mentions should be given to the likes of Vincent Kompany-if fully fit and plays consistently could be the best in the world-, Thiago Silva, Raphael Varane, Diego Godin defenders who have regularly reminded us that REAL defending isn’t totally in this clearly overrated generation of modern day footballers.