Paulo Duarte/Associated Press
Pepe's temperament often overshadows his defensive capability
The young Brazilian will perhaps consider himself unlucky not to have made Brazil's World Cup squad, particularly given David Luiz's catastrophic displays in the latter stages of the tournament. Indeed, Dante hardly covered himself in glory for Brazil when called upon in the semi-final against Germany, making Marquinhos' absence all the more mystifying.
Nevertheless, Marquinhos appears to have the technical and physical capacity to be the future of PSG's defence, nurtured by compatriots Thiago Silva and David Luiz, he could very well step into their boots for the national team too.
A fearless, powerful leader, three years ago Nemanja Vidic was probably the finest central defender in the world. Following a string of serious knee injuries, which began in December 2011, the Serbian international had little success in relation to his first five years at United, in which he had won four Premier League titles and a Champions League. It might be no coincidence that Manchester United's capitulation has occurred at the same time as Vidic's fall from grace.
Despite a final triumph in the Premier League in 2013, lifting the trophy as captain, he decided to leave United in February 2014 to join Internazionale. Inter and Serie A now form the platform from which he can re-establish his position as one of the best in his position.
An exceptionally controversial figure, the Portuguese combatant has every attribute to be a world-class player. Inevitably, Pepe's showings of senseless rage at the World Cup underlined once again why he will never be among the world's best central defenders.
The Brazilian-born 31-year-old ought to be in the prime of his career—his role in Real Madrid's 10th Champions League success last year evidence of such. However, Los Blancos might be looking to replace the temperamental defender with a younger and classier character. Raphael Varane looks raring to go.
Sakho was made temporary captain of Paris Saint-Germain at the age of 17 and went on to take the honour full-time at the start of the 2011-12 season. His maturity as a leader has rarely been called into question, as shown by the trust shown in him by Didier Deschamps in France's World Cup opener.
With pace and strength, Sakho is something of a man mountain and his stature ought to strike fear into the hearts of opposing strikers. However, a lack of maturity on the pitch frequently creeps into his game. His rash approach and occasional poor positioning are aspects that he must attend to if he is to become a top-class central defender.
Stefan de Vrij
Another young player, De Vrij was given his first cap by Louis van Gaal at the age of 20 and has since become a regular fixture alongside Ron Vlaar in the Dutch back line. With more than 135 appearances notched for Feyenoord, De Vrij continues to grow into one of the most exciting prospects in his position.
After a phenomenal World Cup performance, in which he scored against Spain, helped Holland to a third place finish and formed part of the most fascinating defensive formation in Brazi, De Vrij is hot property. It would be no surprise should a titanic club come in for him. No doubt Van Gaal will have his eye on him from Old Trafford.