Adriano, Carles Puyol, Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba (Barcelona)
All of Adriano’s best moments this season have been in the attacking third. Piqué and Puyol are in steep decline. Dani might not even be at the club when Neymar arrives. Mascherano went from a world-class defensive midfielder to a run-of-the-mill centre-back. Alba has been the best of the Barça back line, but he leaves too many gaping holes.
Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich)
I don’t rate Jerome at all because he’s too impulsive; his positioning isn’t exceptional; he doesn’t lead by example, and he’s profiting from playing on the most complete team in Europe.
My bold prediction is that Jan Kirchhoff (if fully fit) will relegate Jerome to the bench next season.
Well, why isn’t Jan on this list? He’s only started 53.3 percent of Mainz’s games and has played portions of the season in midfield.
Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus)
I’ve decided not to include wing-backs as they have a safety net with three at the back. In essence, wing-backs are part-time defenders. With that said, Lichtsteiner and Asamoah are two of the best wing-backs going around.
Álvaro Arbeloa, Fábio Coentrão, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Pepe (Real Madrid)
Álvaro’s tendency to lunge and miss the ball often leaves the back line exposed. Fábio is nowhere near the version that played for Benfica. Marcelo’s defending isn’t reliable enough. Ramos has been a liability for Real. If Pepe was in form, why can’t he win back his position from a 19-year-old?
Branislav Ivanovic, César Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, John Terry and Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea)
Branislav is better going forward than defending. César is still getting acquainted to Premier League conditions. Luiz is too inconsistent. Take Gary out of a deep-back four, and you have an average defender. Terry is on borrowed time. Bertrand’s defending has been woeful as Darijo Srna will testify to.
Jonny Evans, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Phil Jones (Manchester United)
Jonny is a decent CB, nothing else. Vidic still isn’t the Vidic of old. Evra scoring and creating a combined nine league goals is as improbable as Lilian Thuram netting a brace in a FIFA World Cup semi-final. Defensively, Patrice is behind the eight-ball. Jones has spent parts of the season in midfield, not to mention he has only started 55.6 percent of his league games this season.
Aleksandar Kolarov, Joleon Lescott, Maicon, Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany (Manchester City CB)
Kolarov went from respected Serie A footballer to Premier League laughing stock. Joleon is mediocre. City signed an out-of-shape and out-of-form Maicon; gee, wonder what other results they were expecting? When Vincent is consistently getting bailed out by a 19-year-old playing his first season in the EPL, you know the Belgian isn’t having a good season.
*Insert hoard of CBs*, Ignazio Abate, Kevin Constant, Luca Antonini (AC Milan)
There’s a reason why the Rossoneri have tried a billion different CB pairings. I don’t see it from Abate and hope he gets permanently replaced by a certain 20-year-old. Constant has drastically improved as a footballer but makes too many gaffes at the back (he's a make-shift left-back). Antonini should only be a squad player.
Lukasz Piszczek, Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic and Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund)
Lukasz was one of the last players cut; I would be interested to see how Kevin Großkreutz goes in an extended run at RB. Hummels is having his worst season in a B.V.B. shirt. Subotic has been OK. Schmelzer’s performances this season haven’t been better than any of the LB included ahead of him.
Bacary Sagna, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal)
Sagna is past it. Carl’s development has been hindered by Bacary. Gibbs was one of the last players cut from this list—he's had major improvement from last season. Kos hasn’t been good at all. Mertesacker is OK, but the Gunners signing him is the equivalent of Manchester United buying Laurent Blanc. Vermaelen has been as hopeless as William Gallas.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Kyle Naughton, Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson, Steven Caulker, William Gallas (Tottenham Hotspur)
B.A.E. hasn’t played enough, and when he did, he was ordinary. Dawson and Naughton haven’t been anything special. Walker is going through a sophomore slump. Caulker’s decision making hasn’t been good. Gallas is an accident waiting to happen.
Andre Wisdom, Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher, José Enrique, Martin Skrtel (Liverpool)
Wisdom isn’t a RB. Agger’s performances aren’t acceptable. Carragher is counting down the days to retirement. Enrique went from great defender to awful defender, and now he’s just OK. Skrtel has made too many mistakes.
Andrea Ranocchia, Cristian Chivu, Javier Zanetti, Juan Jesus, Walter Samuel and Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan)
Ranocchia’s early season form has nose dived. See John Terry’s reasoning for Chivu and Zanetti. Juan has been erratic. Samuel will be a welcome return to Inter—he didn’t do enough when he did play to be included on this list. Yuto’s defending has improved but is still not good enough.
Diego Godín, Juanfran, Miranda (Atlético Madrid)
Godín misplaces too many passes and has questionable positioning. Juanfran is serviceable but not exceptional. Miranda is a better player than D.G. though not better than any of the CBs on the primary list.
Atsuto Uchida, Joel Matip, Benedikt Höwedes, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Christian Fuchs (Schalke)
Uchida is a clean tackler and is constantly improving; however, he hasn’t played consistently at a high enough level to warrant a place in the 25—the same reason applies to Matip. Höwedes hasn’t been able to assert his leadership qualities on an S04 back line prone to leaking goals. K.P. has hardly played this season, and when he did, he was kamikaze-like in gunning for the ball (think Lucio’s last season at Inter Milan). Fuchs is great going forward but has been terrible at the back.
Jesús Gámez, Martín Demichelis, Weligton (Málaga)
Jesús wasn’t as good as the full-backs included on the main list. Demichelis and Weligton narrowly missed the cut.
Ezequiel Garay (Benfica)
No. 26 on the long list, Garay's, a great defender, level of competition was a factor in him being cut. Major clubs should have him higher on their transfer big board than Eliaquim Mangala, Nicolás Otamendi and Maicon (Porto’s CBs).
Timm Klose (Nürnberg), Angelo Ogbonna (Torino) and Nicolas N'Koulou (Marseille)
They were the last batch of players cut from the long-list, all impressive defenders.
Ömer Toprak and Philipp Wollscheid (Bayer Leverkusen)
Ömer and Philipp haven’t played as well as Demichelis and Weligton, and the Málaga pair didn’t even make the list.
Daley Blind (Ajax)
Impressed by his mental strength to overcome the nepotism jibes, Blind's level of competition factored heavily against him.
Seamus Coleman (Everton)
Coleman has been one of David Moyes’ best players this season. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a place in the 25 for Seamus.
Bastian Oczipka and Sebastian Jung (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Bastian’s positioning is hit-and-miss, but he’s so potent going forward. With regards to Jung’s omission, see Seamus Coleman.
Cicinho started the season on fire and looked like a world-class right-back. However, he hasn't been able to live up to the same standard since.