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The 10 best defenders at Euro 2024

It's not just the top attacking talent that will be on display at Euro 2024 this summer, there's a fair share of brilliant defenders to consider, too.

Modern defenders come in all shapes and sizes, roles that were once elegant are growing in style. Youngsters may still aspire to the 'next Gary Neville' tag, but others may not care about being the next Trent Alexander-Arnold or Virgil van Dijk.

The best European players have gathered in Germany this summer for the 17th European Championships, and the defenders involved aim to stop the trend of increasing goals in major international competitions.

142 points were scored at Euro 2020 at an average of 2.78 per game, while a record 172 were scored at the 2022 World Cup. Attackers have certainly won the toss in recent years, but Europe has been blessed with an array of quality players at the back.

Here are the best defenders competing at Euro 2024.

Jeremy Frimpong

Frimpong will be flying down the right for the Netherlands / Dean Mouhtaropoulos/GettyImages

Denzel Dumfries was one of the stars of Euro 2020 before the Dutch were shocked by Czechia in the round of 16, but he is unlikely to play a key role for Ronald Koeman this summer.

There's a new right-wing-back in town.

Jeremie Frimpong is heading to Euro 2024 having scored a career-high nine goals while flying on the right wing for Bayer Leverkusen last season. 2023/24 was his second consecutive campaign to amass at least 15 league goals.

The flying wing-back is not short of gas and his emergence under Xabi Alonso means he offers more versatility than ever. Frimpong is the final threat in the third and will not let his opposite number rest as he storms the touchline.

Alex GrimaldoAlex Grimaldo

Grimaldo enters Euro 2024 after a good season with Bayer Leverkusen / Fran Santiago/GettyImages

Talk about unicorn profiles, Alejandro Grimaldo served in a series of roles for Bayer Leverkusen last season.

The Spaniard had been showing ability as an up-and-down left-back with attacking instincts before being brought to life by Alonso.

The tough Grimaldo offers bite off the ball, but he owns where his brilliance comes from. A prolific producer, Grimaldo constantly finds himself in and around the opposition box, trying to cause havoc.

His 23 goals last season were the most by a defender in the last 30 years.

Federico DimarcoFederico Dimarco

Dimarco has been the best left-back in the world for the past two years / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

Grimaldo took Europe by storm with his relentless contributions last season, but no defender has provided more consistency than Federico Dimarco over the past two years.

Dimarco has been a key player for Simone Inzaghi's Inter down the left, playing a full-back role.

The Italian snappy is an active defensive operator who can create at will in wide areas. Always comfortable in possession, his influence is almost always felt in the final third. He will have to perform well in Italy this summer if the Azzurri are to enjoy a respectable title defense.

Kyle WalkerKyle Walker

Walker continues to play a major role in the Three Lions/Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Kyle Walker has been Gareth Southgate's England defender and Euro 2024 could emerge as a veteran defender for the national team.

Walker may not offer as much in possession as he once did, but his incredible speed of recovery and strong one-v-one defensive skills mean the Manchester City man can mark whoever he wants.

Some of the best in the world did not participate in Walker.

Josko GuardiolJosko Guardiol

Guardiol stars in 2022 World Cup / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Josko Gvardiol had played in the 2022 World Cup before meeting a certain Lionel Messi in the semi-finals. The Croatian was used by Zlatko Dalic as a full-back for RB Leipzig, but has changed a lot since then.

After starting his career at Manchester City, Guardiol began his life at the bottom of his first season, with Pep Guardiola getting more of him at left back.

Guardiol's incredible managerial talent came to the fore, and we saw the Croat play multiple roles for Dalic this summer.

William SalibaWilliam Saliba

Saliba is not Didier Deschamps' preferred defender / Catherine Steenkeste/GettyImages

William Saliba is difficult to assess as he is already regarded as one of the best defenders on the continent, but the Arsenal man is unlikely to feature heavily at Euro 2024 in France.

Didier Deschamps is opting for other options and, although Saliba hasn't shown his full potential for the national team, his absence from Germany this summer will prove painful given the form he has shown in north London over the past two years.

Saliba combines the traditional art of protection with its modern twist and is poised to be recognized as one of the world's best in the years to come.

John StonesJohn Stones

Stones can do it all from center back/Marc Atkins/GettyImages

John Stones was arguably the most important defender in the world last year, but his 2023/24 campaign was a start, to say the least.

The English coach was a standout central midfielder in City's treble-winning side and, although neither side had a heavy defeat last season, the freshness of his unique style had worn off.

Nevertheless, Stones went from a mistake-prone defender to one of the strongest on the continent. His leadership talent is second to none.

The former Everton star has never put a foot wrong in the national team and has a big role to play in the absence of his regular partner Harry Maguire this summer.

Ruben DiasRuben Dias

Dias has endured an up and down season with Man City / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

2023/24 was not the best career for Ruben Dias, but he is still one of the best defenders in Europe and will lead the Portugal backline in Germany.

Dias leads by example and is an impressive communicator. He is a proper field marshal whose profile is well suited to tournament football. One of his best performances in a City shirt has come in the Champions League.

International Friendly Germany v GreeceInternational Friendly Germany v Greece

Rudiger will lead the host line this summer / ANP/GettyImages

Hosts Germany head into the tournament with constant anticipation and Antonio Rudiger will welcome such pressure.

The Chelsea defender looks to have taken his game to the next level since joining Real Madrid and heading to Euro 2024 as he helped the Spanish club win their 15th Champions League title.

Rudiger may be tough and tough, but no defender in the world has the ability to mark an opposition striker out of the game. He excels in duels and enjoys physical combat.

Virgil van DijkVirgil van Dijk

Van Dijk is back to his best / Dean Mouhtaropoulos/GettyImages

There were doubts not long ago about Van Dijk's status as one of the best players in the world. There's no doubt that the Holland international has experienced a slump after a long knee recovery, but it's fair to say that he silenced quite a few with the campaign he put together last season.

Van Dijk is a stark contrast to the 'in your face' Rudiger, with the Liverpool star continuing to use strong tactics as a way to finish off his opponent.

A visual example of quick pace and good judgement, Van Dijk will lead a strong Netherlands backline in Germany this summer.

After 18 months in the wilderness, Van Dijk has returned to his status as the best player in the world.

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