Is there currently a lack of world-class centre-backs?

Sports Mole picks out the current top five centre-backs in world football.

Ask any football supporter to name the best player in the world and two names will easily roll off the tongue - Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Beyond that, the likes of Luis Suarez, Arjen Robben, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andres Iniesta etc etc will be named around the top of that list.

But what about out-and-out defenders? Have they become less fashionable in the modern game? Are there many world-class ones around anymore?

It was a point highlighted by former Manchester United defender Gary Neville recently when reviewing centre-backs that have been brought into the Premier League in recent seasons.

Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have been criticised for their defending in recent seasons, despite the success that those two have enjoyed. Even the great Bayern Munich have not been watertight defensively despite a haul of trophies.

Favouring forward players is not much of a surprise. After all, football is about entertainment, with goals at the forefront of the attention.

Defending has been called into question in recent seasons, however, with a shortage of top-quality centre-backs an issue that has not really been addressed in any detail.

Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City and Bayern Munich were just four clubs in the market for new centre-backs this summer, but were there enough around? They are out there, but prising the top ones away is perhaps more difficult than signing a team's star striker.

All the talk surrounding the issue got Sports Mole thinking - who are the current top five centre-backs in the world today? Does your team have one?

1. Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain)

Makes this list with his eyes closed. The 30-year-old is perhaps the standout centre-back in world football at the moment, with his performances for Paris Saint-Germain over the last couple of seasons bringing a host of success. In total, the Brazilian has won just three league titles, but it was not until the latter stages of his career with AC Milan – which lasted from 2009 to 2012 – that the defender truly hit top form and matured into probably the best around.

A leader from the back, Silva still possesses a stunning turn of foot despite his latter years. That attribute coupled with incredible reading of the game and calmness in possession makes him a rarity in modern-day football. There might be a current lack of top centre-backs compared to previous eras, but Silva would stand alongside the greats in any category. When Brazil were trounced 7-1 by Germany in the semi-finals of the World Cup this summer, Silva was not on the field. Had he been available, it might have been a slightly different story.

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian defender and captain Thiago Silva controls the ball during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Ajaccio (ACA) at the Parc des Princes stadium on August 18, 2013© Getty Images

2. Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)

When Godin joined Atletico Madrid from Villarreal in 2010, he arrived with a good reputation, but few would have predicted the rise that the Uruguay international has enjoyed over the last couple of seasons. He is perhaps a surprise name in this particular list, but keen watchers of Spanish football will be glad to see the defender among this company. Since joining Atletico, Godin has helped the Spanish club win La Liga, the Europa League, the Copa del Rey and reach the final of last season's Champions League.

The 28-year-old was part of the best defensive unit in European football last season and in truth, his centre-back Miranda is a shade unfortunate not to make this list as well. In fact, it was Godin's header that sent Atletico to within a couple of minutes of winning last season's Champions League. Sure, Diego Costa's goals helped Atletico last term, but Godin was just as important. What he lacks in pace, he more than makes up for in other areas, with his aerial ability and reading of the game both exceptional. In a war-zone, many would want Godin on their side.

Diego Godin of Atletico de Madrid jumps, celebrating scoring their third goal during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Valladolid CF at Vicente Calderon Stadium on February 15, 2014© Getty Images

3. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

Despite a trophy-laden career, there is a general feeling that Ramos still does not really get the respect that he deserves. After all, he must be doing something right – winning the World Cup, two European Championships and making 122 appearances for Spain, in addition to winning the Champions League, two Copa del Rey trophies and three league titles with Real Madrid. There are still critics, but few have had a career like him.

Technically, he is quite probably the best centre-back around. There are few midfielders better than Ramos in possession of the ball, while his ability from set pieces has been shown in recent seasons. He scored seven times last season and has 49 in total for Real Madrid – a demonstration of his threat to the opposition. Those who follow Ramos's career will also highlight his excellent aerial ability at both ends of the field. He might have the odd lapse in concentration, but physically the Spaniard is just about the perfect centre-back.

Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Levante UD vs Real Madrid CF at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in Valencia on October 5, 2013© Getty Images

4. Javier Mascherano (Barcelona)

Not really a centre-back? Try telling that to each of the last three Barcelona managers, who all deployed the Argentine in central defence. At the 2014 World Cup, he was perhaps the best midfielder at the tournament, but he must now be known as a defender after becoming accustomed to a different position in the latter stages of his career. The 30-year-old stands at little over 5'7", but his height has not been a problem in an era that is seemingly overly concerned with size.

Barcelona have had their defensive problems during Mascherano's spell with the club, but prior to Saturday's El Clasico against Real Madrid, the Catalan outfit had not conceded a single goal in the league this season. Three went in against Real Madrid, but Mascherano was still comfortably his team's best defender on the night. Positionally, he is up there with the best, while his ability to read the game, which was surely helped by his stint in midfield, makes him one of the most talented centre-backs in the game.

Barcelona's Javier Mascherano in action during the match against Atletico Madrid on August 28, 2013© Getty Images

5. John Terry (Chelsea)

Controversial? Of course. Terry is not exactly Mr Popular with opposition supporters, but he is a hero to the Chelsea fans. The former England defender had a spell out of the Chelsea team during the 2012-13 season, but seems to have found a second wind over the last 12 months or so. Now, he is the leader of a defence that had the best record in the Premier League last season and the captain of a team that are overwhelming favourites to win the Premier League this season.

The 33-year-old has won three Premier League titles with Chelsea, in addition to five FA Cups and the Champions League. This list isn't about previous years, however, it is about now, and currently there are few better in the world. The defender has never been blessed with pace, but aerially and on the deck, Terry is undeniably excellent. Whether the Englishman will be fully accepted into this list due to his off-the-field issues is open to debate, but putting personal agendas side, it is not difficult to realise why he has been such a success.

John Terry of Chelsea celebrates as he scores their second goal with a header during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on December 1, 2013© Getty Images

Real Madrid players celebrate after scoring their third goal against Barcelona in La Liga's El Clasico on October 25, 2014
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