Transfer Rumors: Top 10 Central Defenders on the Market This Summer

Jonathan Woo@woo_jonathanwooCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2012

Transfer Rumors: Top 10 Central Defenders on the Market This Summer

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    The summer transfer window is an opportunity for football clubs to recalibrate their rosters, seek out improvements or simply rework their finances. For whatever reasons, as long as there is a transfer season, you can be sure there will be moves made.

    While some clubs will look to sharpen their offensive fronts, with names like Robin van Persie, Gonzalo Higuain and more among the hottest of rumors, others will seek out the defensive reinforcements to solidify their goal-stopping potential.

    There is little more frustrating than a central defender who consistently serves as a road block for opposing attackers. Securing the services of a top-tier, no-nonsense defender may serve as the difference in a trophy-winning campaign or taking a backseat to the would-be champions.

    Thiago Silva and Jan Vertonghen have already been snatched off the market as Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham have respectively inked in a couple of strong bodies in their back lines.

    With plenty of clubs vying to bolster their defenses, there will be a flurry of options to scour over as the transfer window rolls on. Here are the top 10 central defenders on the market.

Mats Hummels

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    Another Borussia Dortmund center back who has claimed heavy interest across the continent is Mats Hummels, who recently pinned down a consistent starting place in Germany's back line.

    Hummels, who performed well in the Euro 2012, has recently squashed rumors of a move out of the championship-winning Bundesliga side, but that has hardly stopped any talk of a switch.

    Like his teammate and defensive partner Neven Subotic, the 23-year-old will have plenty of options moving forward. Manchester United, Barcelona and Juventus all have reportedly expressed an interest in the German international.

Gerard Pique

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    Rumors have swirled for weeks about a possible move out of the Camp Nou for prized defender Gerard Pique.

    A visual juggernaut of central defenders, Pique made the switch to Barcelona in 2008. And at 25 years old, he is a consistent difference maker for any club that wishes to acquire the Spaniard.

    Manchester United, who employed Pique in its back line from 2004 to 2007, is among the clubs linked to the 6'4" defender.

    Is it possible for Pique to return to Old Trafford?

    The Red Devils could use the depth with Rio Ferdinand not getting any younger. And with a group of Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic, there is obvious room for Pique should the club, once again, pursue his services.

Thomas Vermaelen

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    Arsenal may not be so keen to let featured defender Thomas Vermaelen out of the Emirates, but the Belgian has become a target for some clubs, notably Spanish giants Barcelona.

    There is not a ton of writing on the wall, but there are inklings that suggest that the Catalan club are serious about bringing Vermaelen to the Camp Nou, as the Daily Mail pictured here.

    The 26-year-old still has several years ahead of him and easily has been one of Arsenal's best defensive assets in recent memory.

    Able to move well and provide strong aerial support as well as versatility, it is no wonder that Barcelona is expressing interest and that Arsenal will be strong to keep him in North London.

Javi Martinez

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    The long-time Athletic Bilbao man has popped up on radar for some big clubs in Europe recently. And now that the 23-year-old Javi Martinez is just entering his prime as a premier central defender, the Spaniard has garnered a generous following this summer.

    A World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 Champion for Spain, Martinez has generated interest from clubs like Barcelona and Bayern Munich, among others, leading many to believe he is all but gone from Bilbao, the club he joined in 2006.

    Able to perform well in either a defensive midfield or central defender position, Martinez will be highly valued for his versatility and command of the pitch.

Neven Subotic

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    Since signing with Borussia Dortmund in 2008, Neven Subotic has slowly climbed the ranks of top defenders in Europe.

    With standout performances virtually every match, the hulking Serbian continues to garner sincere interest from top clubs in several leagues.

    Manchester United and Arsenal are a couple of English clubs rumoured to have placed some interest in the Dortmund defender, but surely the inquiries will not stop there.

    At just 23 years old, Subotic is already among the top young defenders in the world, and his stock will only continue to rise.

Martin Skrtel

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    The 27-year-old Martin Skrtel, since arriving at Anfield in 2008, has established himself as one of the top defenders in the Premier League.

    According to the Mirror, Skrtel could be on the way out of Liverpool as Brendan Rogers looks to acquire some cash as the transfer window rolls on. At any rate, the Reds appear to have plenty of options centrally, with players like Daniel Agger, Martin Kelly and Jamie Carragher to choose from.

    Napoli and Manchester City have been linked to the Slovakian defender, but as the rumor mill goes, they are simply rumors.

    Nevertheless, Liverpool appears to be unloading quite a defensive asset.

David Luiz

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    One of the most enigmatic defenders in the Premier League last season was Chelsea's frizzy-haired David Luiz.

    A strong-willed and confident center back, Luiz was never shy about surging up the field to support the Blues' offense in either support or primary roles. The 25-year-old Brazilian is a target on set pieces but also possesses the kind of footwork and wit that most of his countrymen can boast, making Luiz a versatile player on either end of the pitch.

    However, many have concerns about his consistency out of the back and his ambitious desires to move up the field a little too often, jeopardizing a solid back line on counter attacks.

    Nevertheless, if Chelsea does not want him, there will be a club who could utilize his skill set for a defensive upgrade. But given the defensive injuries and woes that had Chelsea allowing far too many goals, the Blues may be more keen to hold onto the former Benfica man.

Simon Kjaer

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    Simon Kjaer, who has been on the fence with Roma's interest in resigning the Danish defender, is easily a to-be-watched young center back in Europe.

    The U-19 Danish talent of the year in 2007, Kjaer officially arrived on the scene with stints with Wolfsburg in 2010 and Roma in 2011. But with the Italian side deliberating on bringing the 23-year-old back to the Serie A, other clubs have weaseled their way in for talks.

    Liverpool appears to be among the favorites to secure Kjaer's services, and with the prospect of pairing him with countryman Daniel Agger in the Reds' back line, perhaps there is some smoke to the talks.

Ron Vlaar

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    Feyenoord captain and Dutch international Ron Vlaar not only has a sweet last name to his resume, but he has had the luxury of playing relatively below radar for some time in the Eredivisie.

    Several sources, including the Sun, have reported that Premier League side Aston Villa is deep into contract talks with Vlaar for a switch to England.

    Vlaar had battled injury trouble early in his career with Feyenoord, but since the 2009 season, the 6'2" Dutchman has been a fixture for the Rotterdam-based club.

    Valued at a reported £8 million, Vlaar could be one of the most undervalued defenders this summer.

Willy Boly

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    Playing quite heavily under the radar with the relegated French side Auxerre, Willy Boly arguably performed as the best player at the club last season.

    The prospect of playing Ligue 2 football can hardly be convincing, and the 21-year-old Boly could definitely be headed out of the club.

    With strong performances against the likes of Saint-Etienne and Paris Saint-Germain, Boly has created some buzz for himself as the summer window opened.

    Is Arsene Wenger watching this Frenchman?