Lazio are in Need of Defenders. With the confirmation that Dutch central defender Stefan De Vrij is leaving the club this summer, there have been many talks about who will replace the centre-half. Although doing well this season, Lazio are still struggling to find consistency on defence, and are hoping that this summer is the time to reinforce the squad with some key signings. In this article, I take a look into the top 10 defenders around Europe in my opinion that Lazio should try to pursue. Here is the list:
10- Matthijs de Ligt- Ajax
Why not replace De Vrij with another Dutchman? 18 year-old Matthijs de Ligt is a promising youngster who currently plays for Ajax in the Eredivisie. He has already made 30 appearances for the club which includes 2 in the Champions League and 2 in the Europa League. He averages 1.1 tackles per game as well as 4.5 clearances per game which can be crucial in defending set pieces. If you add in the 2 interceptions per game and his 90% pass success percentage he can be a good addition to Lazio’s defense to not only intercept passes but make passes that are just as good as the ones he intercepted.
9- Christopher Julien– Toulouse
Although he isn’t as young as the previous defender 24 year-old Christopher Julien still has some pretty considerable defensive stats. He averages 1.5 tackles per game and 1.6 interceptions per game. He also averages 6.2 clearances per game. He does have some experience in the center back role making 26 appearances for Toulouse in all competitions.
8- Marek Suchy- FC Basel 1893
This 29 year-old Czech defender is no stranger to a 3 in the back formation. He has made 30 appearances for the Swiss side which includes 8 champions league appearances as Basel surprisingly made it out of a group which included the likes of Manchester United and Liga Nos Champions Benfica. He played all 6 group games most of the time as a central center back. He made his 7th appearance against Manchester City as the Swiss side unfortunately lost their first leg 4-0. His 8th appearance was bittersweet as the Swiss side won the 2nd leg 2-1 however ended up getting eliminated from the competition as they lost on aggregate. His personal stats includes an average of 3.1 interceptions per game and 5.4 clearances per game. If you take those stats and also include his Champions League experience he could be a strong defender to add to Lazio’s roster next season.
7- Santiago Arias- PSV Eindhoven
As we go back to the Eredivisie we take a look at 26 year-old Colombian defender Santiago Arias who does prove quite the strong defender with an average of 1.6 tackles per game and 1.8 interceptions per game. He also has some decent offensive stats as well with 3 goals and 5 assists this season. With being strong both defensively and offensively he can prove to be a very versatile defender.
6- Domenico Criscito- Zenit St. Petersburg
31 year-old Domenico Criscito is the first Italian defender featured on this list. He did have quite the season last year however this year isn’t going as well as last year as Zenit sit in 4th in the Russian Premier League 8 points behind Lokomotiv Moscow who sit in 1st place. However he does have some pretty interesting stats with an average of 3.5 tackles per game and 2 interceptions per game. If Lazio manage to sign him he could be useful in defense and can also build quick chemistry with the manager Simeone Inzaghi and other fellow Italian teammates in the squad.
5- Salif Sané- Hannover 96
This 27 year-old Senegalese defender is having a strong season in the Bundesliga despite Hannover not doing well sitting in 11th. He is still doing well averaging 1.7 tackles per game and 3 interceptions per game. He plays as a center back but can also switch into a defensive midfielder.
4- Felipe- FC Porto
28 year-old Brazilian defender Felipe is having quite the season at Porto as they sit in 1st place 5 points ahead of title defenders Benfica. Although they recently exited the Champions League by losing 5-0 on aggregate against Liverpool Porto is still doing well defensively as they remain undefeated in the Liga Nos this season. He has made some defensive contributions so far this season as he averages 1.5 tackles per game and 3 interceptions per game. He can also build chemistry in the back line with the other Brazilian defenders Wallace and Luiz Felipe.
3- Jorge- Monaco
Another Brazilian defender has been featured on this list. 21 year-old Jorge currently plays his football in Ligue 1 with Monaco. Monaco currently sit in 2nd 14 points behind Paris Saint-Germain. Jorge has made 24 appearances for Monaco which includes 4 being made in the Champions League. He also averages 3.4 tackles per game and 3.2 interceptions per game and just like Felipe he can build chemistry with the Brazilian defenders at Lazio as well as some other Brazilians like Lucas Leiva and Felipe Anderson.
2- Dayotchanculle Upamecano- RB Leipzig
At just 19 years of age this Frenchman has made 8 European appearances 5 in the Champions League and 3 in the Europa League for RB Leipzig. He has proven to be a strong defender for them as he started for the German side 28 times only being subbed in once this season. At such a young age he has so much potential to be a great defender. Another positive for RB Leipzig’s defense is that they have the highest aerial duel winning percentage in the Bundesliga and when this young French defender is included in that defense it can be good to bring in that strong ability to win aerial duels into Lazio’s team.
1- Ryan Sessegnon- Fulham
This 17 year-old English left-back is having an amazing season this year. He plays in the 2nd tier of English football with Fulham. More of an offensive defender but can still be proven crucial as he has scored 14 goals and has assisted 4 goals this season. He can also switch between left-back and left wing which can work great in Lazio’s 3-5-2 formation. He is however still really young but he can always be good to look at this summer.