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Most expensive English defenders ever

England may not be the relentless producers of supreme defensive talent that Italy once was, but they’ve had their fair share of stellar defenders.

With almost every elite-level side incessant on playing out from the back and deploying aggressive defensive lines, the acquisition of defenders capable of performing such tasks has become a necessity.

The modern-day demands combined with inflation has seen transfer fees for defenders sky rocket in recent years.

Here are the ten most expensive English defenders ever.

Paolo Maldini, Fikayo Tomori, Frederic Massara

Tomori was excellent during Milan’s 2021/22 title-winning season / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

After shining on loan, Milan completed the £30m purchase of Tomori in the summer of 2021 before he embarked on the best season of his career during the Rossoneri’s Scudetto win.

Tomori’s exceptional season made his permanent arrival worthwhile and the lack of interest from the national team has been curious.

The former Chelsea man will be looking to rebound after enduring a down year in 2022/23.

Michael Keane

Keane has never convinced at Everton / Gareth Copley/GettyImages

Keane was a sturdy figure for Sean Dyche’s Burnley, and his form, which also resulted in 12 England caps, convinced Everton to spend £30m to bring him to Goodison Park.

His steady form initially continued with the Toffees before declining after he penned a five-year extension in 2020. His belter against Tottenham during the backend of 2022/23 is his undisputed highlight in Everton colours.

Ferdinand and Ferguson

United broke the British transfer record to sign Ferdinand / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Man Utd broke the English transfer record to sign Leeds hotshot Ferdinand in 2002.

United’s £30m purchase meant the Englishman became the most expensive defender in history for the second time after losing his first title to Lillian Thuram in 2001.

Sir Alex Ferguson had no doubts that Ferdinand would blossom into a superstar at Old Trafford, and the archetypal modern-day defender certainly didn’t disappoint.

Luke Shaw

Luke Shaw signed for United as a teenager / James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

Shaw has enjoyed quite the rollercoaster at Man Utd after joining the club as a precocious teenager from Southampton in 2014.

The left-back has battled serious injuries and felt the wrath of Jose Mourinho during his time at the club, but he’s emerged from the dark clouds and developed into one of the Premier League’s best in his position.

He’s played a starring role for the national team in recent years, while the stellar form he’s displayed for the Red Devils garnered him a new contract at the end of the 2022/23 season.

Ben Chilwell

Chelsea spent £45m to sign Chilwell from Leicester / Clive Rose/GettyImages

Injuries have plagued his time at Chelsea, but there’s no denying Chilwell’s status as one of the most dynamic full-backs in the Premier League.

He joined the Blues after breaking through at Leicester in the wake of their Premier League title triumph. Chelsea spent £45m to bring him to Stamford Bridge, where he’s since lifted the Champions League.

It’s been a frustrating period for the England international, but he’s set to become a pivotal figure under Mauricio Pochettino after extending his contract in April.

Kyle Walker

Kyle Walker has won the lot at the Etihad / Alex Livesey – Danehouse/GettyImages

Mauricio Pochettino converted the raw Walker into the most coveted full-back in the land and he made a £45m move to City after Tottenham’s stellar 2016/17 season during which he starred as an up-and-down wing-back.

Walker’s evolution has been pretty remarkable under Pep Guardiola in Manchester and he’ll be remembered as perhaps one of most under-appreciated full-backs of his generation.

The Sheffield-born defender has won the lot at the Etihad.

ohn Stones

Stones has blossomed into one of Europe’s best / Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

The ‘Barnsley Beckenbauer’ has come into his own after several difficult years at City, and he was instrumental in the club’s treble triumph.

Injuries and inconsistency for a long time undermined his time in Manchester, but he’s emerged as one of Europe’s very best defenders in recent years, excelling with the national team, too.

Guardiola’s utilisation of Stones in an utterly unique centre-back hybrid role kick-started their magical end to 2022/23.

Aaron Wan Bissaka

Wan-Bissaka is an elite one-v-one defender / Chloe Knott – Danehouse/GettyImages

United’s purchase of Crystal Palace defender Wan-Bissaka certainly raised a few eyebrows at the time and the concerns of many quickly manifested.

While the right-back is arguably the best one-on-one defender in the game, his limitations on the ball are distinct (although he’s certainly improved in this regard) and he hasn’t lived up to his pretty hefty price tag.

Wan-Bissaka has drifted in and out of the United starting XI since his arrival, with managers often deploying him as a specialist tasked with shutting down a particular opponent.

Ben White

White came into his own during the 2022/23 season / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

White’s rise from Newport County loanee to £50m man was swift. The confident defender shone in aggressive, proactive systems under Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds and Graham Potter at Brighton before Arsenal made their move ahead of the 2021/22 season.

Athletic and technically proficient, White starred in north London during his first two seasons, with Mikel Arteta successfully converting him into a two-way full-back.

Harry Maguire

Maguire has not lived up to his hefty price tag / Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

Oh, Harry.

He was pretty much doomed from the get-go. A bidding war between the two Manchester clubs eventually culminated in United spending the biggest amount to sign any English defender (£78m).

Put under immediate scrutiny, Maguire has found it tough at Old Trafford despite some excellent spells. The club captain was reduced to a bit-part role by Erik ten Hag and there are serious questions over where his future resides.

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