When you think of the best defenders to play the game of football, Paolo Maldini is right in the conversation and may well be the greatest ever.
Maldini spent his entire career playing for his beloved Rossoneri in three separate decades, winning a total of 26 major trophies at the San Siro, including five Champions League.
His reading of the game was unmatched, with Maldini renowned for being one of the most brilliant minds in defence and not needing to dive in needlessly because of his immense football brain.
The Italian has been speaking about the current state of defending in the game and has lamented the lack of top quality modern day defending as the game has evolved.
Speaking to Grant Wahl on the Planet Futbol podcast, he said:
“Central defenders start the play, now they play more with the ball and everything starts from the goalkeeper. 20 years ago they were only defenders and only a few of them were confident on the ball, so everything has changed.
“But also they’re losing the habit of marking on corners or one-on-one, so the art of defending is losing some characteristics of the ’80s.
“It bothers me, yeah. Especially at the top level, because I’m not talking about a second division team, I’m talking about national teams and the Champions League.
“The game has changed a lot, but I still think having a great defence makes a better team long-term.”
The 48-year old does pick out two current defenders that he likes, though.
“Sergio Ramos is very good, but sometimes he forgets about defending. He’s a great player though, he has skill and he can score.
“I also like Thiago Silva, he plays for PSG [Paris Saint-Germain] so you don’t see the French League too often in Italy, we don’t see their League games very often but I remember him when he was at Milan.”
To finish off, Maldini discussed his toughest opponents and he opted for four of the most technically gifted players to grace a football pitch.
“As for best opponent, I have to say [Diego] Maradona. Because he was Maradona. And also on the pitch he was a very nice guy, very respectful.
“After him, maybe Ronaldo, the Brazilian, the two years he played for Inter before his injury he was very, very, very good.
“Also I played against [Zinedine] Zidane, [Michel] Platini… they were good!”
What do you make of Maldini’s comments?
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(h/t Football Italia)