Van Dijk, Mendy and the most expensive defenders of all time

The Dutch defender tops the list after his record-breaking move to Liverpool, beating out a trio of Man City players

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#1 Virgil van Dijk

Blowing away the previous transfer record for a defender by over €20 million, Van Dijk moved to Liverpool from Southampton for a whopping €84.5m after a chase that extended past the summer and to the eve of the January window. That fee is sure to produce raised expectations for what the Dutch centre-back can deliver. Getty

#2 Benjamin Mendy

One year after making a €13 million move from Marseille to Monaco, Mendy made history by becoming the most expensive defender of all time with a €57m move to Manchester City. Though he lost the top spot to Virgil van Dijk, he remains the most expensive full-back in history. Getty Images

#3 John Stones

For a year, Stones could claim the top spot as the most expensive defender of all time. Moving from Everton in August 2016 to Manchester City for €55.6 million, Stones would hold that distinction until Benjamin Mendy joined last season. And he was the most expensive centre-back until Virgil van Dijk’s move to Liverpool. Getty

#4 Kyle Walker

Manchester City wanted full-backs prior to the 2017-18 season, so Pep Guardiola opened the checkbook to bring in Walker from Tottenham for €51 million. For a brief moment, Walker was the most expensive full-back in history — until his future team-mate Benjamin Mendy swiped the title a few weeks later. Getty Images

#5 David Luiz

The second time Luiz makes this list, the Brazilian made a €50 million exit from Chelsea to the Paris Saint-Germain prior to the 2014-15 season. He would spend two years with PSG before returning to the Blues for a smaller fee. Matthew Lewis

#6 Nicolas Otamendi

While Manchester City made plenty of waves with big-money signings on defense prior to the 2017-18 season, it isn’t a new thing for the club. Otamendi came over from Valencia prior to the 2014-15 season for a whopping €48 million. Getty Images

#7 Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand has the impressive distinction of twice being the most expensive defender in the world — first when he went from West Ham to Leeds United for €26 million, and then from Leeds to Manchester United for €46m prior to the 2002-03 season. If you factor in the drastic increase in transfer fees, no sum may quite be Ferdinand’s equal. Getty

#8 Leonardo Bonucci

Part of AC Milan’s overhaul prior to the 2016-17 season, the veteran Italy international Bonucci made the switch from Juventus for €42 million. Getty Images

#9 Thiago Silva

An early big-ticket signing for PSG under the Qatar Sports Investments, Silva made the switch from A.C. Milan to PSG prior to the 2012-13 season for €42 million and has gone on to win four Ligue 1 titles. Getty Images

#10 Lillian Thuram

It was an impressive figure given the era — in fact, it was a record for a defender at the time — as Thuram left Parma to join rivals Juventus for a whopping €41.3 million. A World Cup winner with France in 1998, Thuram went on to claim two Serie A titles for the Old Lady. Getty

#11 Dani Alves

Arguably the most successful move on this list, Alves swapped Sevilla for Barcelona prior to the 2008-09 season for a whopping €41.5 million. While Sevilla probably enjoyed their return on investment — Alves joined them for under €1 million in 2002 — Barca reaped the rewards as Alves proved a core member of teams that earned six La Liga titles, four Copa del Rey triumphs and three Champions League crowns.  Getty

#12 Shkodran Mustafi

The German international came up through Hamburg and Everton, while getting his first real chance for minutes in Serie A with Sampdoria. But he broke through with Valencia, and after a successful three-year run the Gunners moved in to pry him away for a €41 million fee. ProShots

#13 Davinson Sanchez

How much can one man improve in one season? Sanchez joined Ajax from Colombian side Atletico Nacional for €5 million prior to the 2016-17 season. Tottenham came calling one year later, and ponied up €40 million for the Colombia international. Getty Images

#14 Luke Shaw

Not all big moves away from Southampton are to Liverpool. Shaw left the club for a €39.5 million move to Manchester United prior to the 2014-15 season. His promising career was derailed by a broken leg in September 2015, and he has never quite regained the same magic he displayed prior.  Getty

#15 Eric Bailly

Another player with a rapid rise, Bailly joined Villarreal for around €5.7 million at the end of the January window in 2015. Fast forward to June 2016, and he was on his way to Manchester United, joining the club for €38m. Getty Images

#16 Antonio Rudiger

The former Roma defender arrived in Italy's capital for a mere €9.5 million prior to the 2016-17 season. Two seasons later, the Germany international was off to London, swapping Roma for Chelsea in an impressive €35m transfer. Getty Images

#17 Victor Lindelof

Jose Mourinho may like to claim Manchester City spend striker money on defenders, but he's prone to big splashes on the back line as well, evidenced by his acquisition of Lindelof from Benfica prior to the 2017-18 season for €35 million.  Getty Images

#18 Mats Hummels

Another returnee to his old team, Hummels became yet another player to join Bayern Munich directly from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund when he made a €35 million move prior to the 2016-17 campaign.  Getty Images

#19 David Luiz

As impressive as appearing on this list twice is, Luiz could have made it three times. His €35 million transfer from PSG back to Chelsea in 2016 actually counted as a substantial drop in his value from just a few years before.  Getty

#20 Danilo

The defender nearly made this list twice. He moved from Porto to Real Madrid after the 2014-15 season for €31.5 million, and after a less than stellar tenure there, he moved to Manchester City prior to 2017-18 for €30m. 

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