5 Highest-Paid Defenders In European Football Right Now (2024)

David Alaba

We’ve seen several examples in recent years of how world-class defenders can help transform a team. Every strong team requires a formidable backline on which to rely. Teams are built on solid foundations, and having excellent defenders on your payroll is a must for any team with lofty goals.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the great, once said, “Attack wins games, but defense wins championships.”

Defending is the less exciting aspect of the game. So, just because goal scorers and creators receive all of the attention and accolades, defenders aren’t any less important.

There are many world-class defenders on the planet. However, not all of them are well-paid. However, here are five defenders who do. Without further delay, let’s get started and find out who the top five highest-paid defenders in the world are.

#5 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) – weekly salary of £220,000

Virgil van Dijk is currently regarded as the best center-back in the world. Liverpool paid a club record £75 million to sign the Dutchman from Southampton during the winter transfer window of the 2017-18 season. He was also the most expensive defender in Premier League history.

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk

Van Dijk immediately strengthened Liverpool’s defense. His impact was so significant that the Merseysiders went from being one of the league’s most vulnerable defensive units to one of the strongest almost overnight.

In 2019, the Dutchman was named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, as well as runner-up for the Ballon d’Or and Best FIFA Men’s Player Awards. He extended his contract earlier this year in August and earned £220,000 per week in wages.

Stones (Manchester City) -£250,000 per week

Manchester City paid £47.6 million to sign John Stones from Everton in 2016. The Englishman was regarded as a major acquisition and was hailed as a future star. However, he only impressed in spurts, and in a star-studded Manchester City squad, he quickly faded into obscurity.

John Stones
John Stones

However, due to Aymeric Laporte’s injury in the 2020-21 season, Stones was reintroduced to the lineup to partner Ruben Dias. Together, they were fantastic for Manchester City, assisting Pep Guardiola’s side to the Premier League title.

He has the ability to launch attacks from a distance, has good spatial awareness, and demonstrates excellent leadership skills in the back. Stones signed a contract extension with the club in August of this year, tying him to the club until 2026 and paying him £250,000 per week.

#3 Marcelo (Real Madrid) – £266,000 weekly

Marcelo has been a standout performer for Real Madrid. He is a generational talent and one of the best Brazilian players of his generation. Marcelo was a key member of Real Madrid’s four Champions League titles in the last decade.


His best days, however, are long gone, and the 33-year-old has become something of a liability at Real Madrid. Giving him a lucrative new contract in 2017 may not have been the best decision. Marcelo has faded into obscurity at the club, having appeared in just 12 La Liga games last season.

But he still earns £266,000 per week, and Real Madrid will be relieved to see him go when his current contract expires next summer.

#2 Raphael Varane (Manchester United) – £340,000 weekly

Raphael Varane joined Manchester United from Real Madrid this summer for £36 million. Varane, a Rolls-Royce defender, has already had an illustrious career at the age of 28.

Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane

The Frenchman is widely regarded as one of his generation’s best defenders. During his 10-year stay at the Santiago Bernabeu, he won three La Liga titles, four Champions League titles, and four FIFA Club World Cups.

Varane was the French team’s first-choice center-back as they won the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He has great speed, is physically imposing, and is fantastic with the ball at his feet. Varane is one of the world’s most intelligent center-backs.

#1  David Alaba (Real Madrid) £375,000 per week.

One thing is certain: Real Madrid has excellent taste in defenders. They have consistently housed some of the world’s best defenders, and David Alaba is the most recent addition to that list.

David Alaba
David Alaba

Last season, after it became clear that he would not be extending his contract with Bayern Munich, the Austrian international became one of the most sought-after players. The 29-year-old is one of the world’s most versatile players.

His primary position was left-back, but he now plays central midfield for his national team. Alaba moved to center-back in his final years at Bayern Munich and has played in a variety of positions for Real Madrid this season.

He earns a whopping £375,000 per week, making him the world’s highest-paid defender.