This update has the final couple of South American central defenders to even make the list and then another South American to whom defending doesn't even exist. Or shouldn't exist perhaps.
Interestingly there aren't even that many central defenders left to come and I have the usual trouble seeing significant difference in quality when comparing them so the inevitable gaps between them occupied by other positions can look a little strange. At least to me!
So because it just looks better, this is how the central defender position has ranked so far (with not THAT many still to come):
1. Diego Lugano (write up below)
2. Walter Samuel (write up below)
3. Alessandro Nesta
4. Daniel Agger
5. Simon Kjaer
6. Bruno Alves
7. William Gallas
8. Christian Zapata
9. Martin Demichelis
10. Kolo Toure
There were some dubious bonus points for Demichelis cause of his versatility. Pepe if not for his injury probably would have to be higher. Possibly all the way up just behind Nesta and then Kjaer and Agger should be a little lower. Lucio also up some spots.
The actual list so far:
200: Alberto Zapater - Genoa - Spain
199: Nikola Zigic - Valencia - Serbia
198: Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid - Spain
197: Lucio - Inter - Brazil
196: John Obi Mikel - Chelsea - Nigeria
195: Sergio Busquets - Barcelona - Spain
194: Philippe Mexes - Roma -France
193: Anatolij Tymoshchuk - Bayern München - Ukraine
192: Theo Walcott - Arsenal - England
191: Aaron Ramsey - Arsenal - Wales
190: Pepe - Real Madrid - Portugal
189: Sergei Semak - Rubin Kazan - Russia
188: Alberto Aquilani - Liverpool - Italy
187: Clarence Seedorf - Milan - Holland
186: Diego Capel - Sevilla - Spain
185: Yossi Benayoun - Liverpool - Israel
184: Riccardo Montolivo - Fiorentina - Italy
183: Kolo Toure - Manchester City -Côte d'Ivoire
182: Yuri Zhirkov - Chelsea - Russia
181: Martin Demichelis - Bayern Munich - Argentina
180: Marouane Fellaini - Everton - Belgium
179: Cristian Zapata - Udinese - Colombia
178: Tim Cahill - Everton - Australia
177: Paul Scholes - Manchester United - England
176: Arda Turan - Galatasaray - Turkey
175: Ezequiel Lavezzi - Napoli - Argentina
174: Klaas Jan Huntelaar - AC Milan - The Netherlands
173: William Gallas - Arsenal - France
172: Shaun Wright Phillips - Manchester City - England
171: Pavel Pogrebnyak - VBF Stuttgart - Russia
170: Darijo Srna - Shakhtar Donetsk - Croatia
169: Bojan Krkic and Pedro - Barcelona - Spain
168: Ronaldinho - AC Milan - Brazil
167: Tranquillo Barnetta - Bayer Leverkusen - Switzerland
166: Stiliyan Petrov - Aston Villa - Bulgaria
165: Amauri - Juventus - Brazil
164: Dirk Kuyt - Liverpool - The Netherlands
163: Bruno Alves - FC Porto - Portugal
162: Lorik Cana - Sunderland - Albania
161: Carlton Cole - West Ham - England
160: Lukas Podolski - FC Köln - Germany
159: Felipe Melo - Juventus - Brazil
158: Craig Bellamy - Manchester City - Wales
157: Simon Kjaer and Daniel Agger - Palermo and Liverpool - Denmark
156: Alessandro Nesta -Milan-Italy
155: Aly Cissokho - Lyon -France
Defender - Inter
Samuel is another central defender who has struggled with injuries in recent years but ever since his Roma days where he was a key player in winning a historic Scudetto I've always felt he was one of the best defenders in the world.
He is still plagued by nagging injuries here and there but when he plays, and certainly this season it's been at a consistently high level and I think he deserves to be the highest central defender so far on the list.
In my eyes - ability wise (unlike Nesta) he's seen very little decline, if any at all, other than health, and while not as talented an all around player as some of the earlier ranked defenders, his actual defensive attributes are right up there with the best and it's my impression that there just isn't the occasional mistakes that you see from some of the other excellent defenders ranked so far. He is just a little bit more solid and that's what has put him ahead of the pack, though it's obviously very close.
He is less talented than the likes of Mexes, Pepe, Kolo Toure, Gallas and Zapata but perhaps stronger than all of them, even better or their equal in the air and he makes less mistakes.
His current Inter partner Lucio is at least as strong and better technically (it's very possible he was ranked too low and more or less a victim of Pepe being ranked as low who I definitely felt was ahead of him) but I think Samuel is the better pure defender with more secure marking and no risk taking. Plus more agile and even though he certainly isn't fast not as painfully slow as Lucio is these days on the first meters.
The most comparable central defender in many ways so far is Bruno Alves but here I give the edge to Samuel based on the level of competition faced in Italy and Spain over the years versus the Portuguese league.
So for the time being Walter Samuel is the best central defender on the list. We'll see how long that lasts.
Not very long is my not so bold prediction...
Defender - Fenerbahce
Hey what would the list be without a super intense aggressive Uruguayan defender good at making opponents, teammates and referees, not only watch what the **** they're doing, but make strange faces while doing it??
Diego Lugano is the captain of Uruguay with a reputation as perhaps the best defender coming out of South America currently. At least when we're talking central defenders, and yes to my great surprise he really will be the highest ranked South American central defender on this list, according to me resulting in this top 5 right here:
1. Diego Lugano
2. Walter Samuel
3. Christian Zapata
4. Martin Demichelis
Hmm so just 5?
I would say there is a whole bunch of Brazilian central defenders arguably in that 200-180 range. Juan from Roma when on form is a very classy defender. Alex and Luisao are technically sound powerhouses and Thiago Silva from Milan is very talented.
Lyon captain Cris is the proven veteran while Naldo from Werder Bremen certainly does look the part of a great defender, at times, but also someone that all in all I remain unconvinced by.
If I then look at Argentina I have much tougher time finding other candidates than the two who made it but maybe I'm overlooking someone?
Notorious head-cases Heinze and Burdisso I never really seriously considered and Daniel Diaz (Getafe) though one tough warhorse just isn't talented enough.
Then there is the unfortunate case of Gabriel Milito who I think if it wasn't for serious injury causing him to miss the whole of last season (he is only coming back just now) actually would be ranked my number one South American defender. He was excellent for Zaragoza and coming into his own at Barcelona also at a level that I'd say is even higher than Lugano's.
Looking at other candidates from Uruguay we have someone like Martin Caceres, but it's possible that he is even more wild than nutcase Heinze and from what I've seen plays with 100 percent heart and just about zero intelligence, and he hasn't had all that much playing time either.
Hopefully he'll improve his tactics and intelligence, cause he has the natural ability to both become a good central defender and a fullback.
Diego Godin from Villarreal is much more solid and a more classic central defender but still a longshot to make the list I'd say. There are tons of good central defenders around his level.
Chile had a great World Cup qualification campaign and with their non stop action attacking game as well as, almost basketball like full court pressure style defending, will be one of the most interesting teams to watch, but unfortunately I'm not all that familiar with their defenders (but there are Chile players still come on the list!).
There is Isla from Udinese who seems talented and very versatile but as far as defending goes I have no idea if he is even the best Chile has to offer.
It's the same story with Paraguay where I don't know anyone beside Sunderland's Paulo Da Silva.
For Colombia it's been a joy to watch Oscar Cordoba over the years overcome his lack of size with great agility and superb defensive instincts, but in 2010 countryman Zapata was the better candidate.
As far as Diego Lugano goes it's clear that playing in Turkey and before that at Sao Paolo in Brazil it's pretty limited what I've seen of him playing club football over the years. And for the national team it's not like Uruguay is on every week either.
But I have seen Lugano play for them quite a few times and in the Champions League for Fenerbahce I also saw quite a bit of him during their quarter final run in the 07-08 season.
Other than the the obvious intensity and leadership he is a very complete defender. Strong and agile, good in the air and a great tackler. He is also one of those very good defenders who just seem like they control or cover a greater area than most and essentially doing it without ever looking lost. Lugano's defensive work just has a great range to it.
Forward - Lazio
The way things are going for Mauro Zarate, incredibly talented but perennial underachiever Alvaro Recoba's career (who Zarate has been compared with) isn't a worst case scenario any longer but more of an unrealistic dream scenario.
Things just aren't going well for Zarate who it needs to be said isn't nearly as talented as Recoba was anyway, but nonetheless Zarate does have that great pace and exciting dribbling ability, as well as a booming shot that can go in from almost anywhere, but any range of passing, decision making, actual creativity or vision is seriously lacking.
And then there are the attributes that he does very much share with Recoba - negative traits like lack of professionalism, below par work rate, lack of fitness and general bad attitude creating trouble on and off the pitch with his already struggling club.
He is still only 22 and the natural talent that he does have won't go away any time soon. Last season it was there for all to see and he was something of a sensation but this season after Lazio spent the big cash on him he's been disappointing and have provided more controversy than he has goals.
Obviously Lazio's various struggles on and off the field that started right from the beginning of this season hasn't helped but neither has Zarate. Quite the opposite.
But if he can improve in one or two areas where he is currently weak he can still become a star. For better team than Lazio as well.