Tackling is an aspect of football so important that some players are selected in some teams not to prevent goals nor score them, but to roam the pitch tackling opponents in possession. This positioning is called the Makele-role, named after one of the best tacklers in football.
Players like Ngolo Kante, Casemiro and Wilfred Ndidi show deficiencies in large areas of their games but are indispensable to the squad due to their astute positioning and top tactical nous.
We have therefore compiled this detailed list of the best tacklers in football in 2021.
Best Tacklers in Football
The best tackler in football currently, Nigerian defensive midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi, is also rated as the best player in his position. The 24-year-old has topped or seconded the tackling charts in all of his seasons in England.
At 1.86m tall, Ndidi’s appendage reach makes him almost impossible to dribble past. This has had a telling effect on his team’s performance, as he has the highest point per game of any Leicester player. In addition, of any Leicester player to have made as much appearance as the Nigerian, he has conceded the least number of goals.
“Having Wilfred Ndidi in front of our defence is like having two players. He does not get the credit he deserves.”
Ndidi is the most valuable player on this list.
Little known Spanish midfielder, Pol Llonch, ranks second on our list of best tacklers in football, but only down to the lower quality of the Dutch Eredivisie. The Willem II player has made more tackle per game in the past two seasons than any other player on earth.
The 28-year-old is also one of the most affordable players on this list .
The world may have been bedazzled by the incredible tackling Wan-Bissaka, but Greek player, Stelios Kitsiou, is the best tackling right-back in the world.
The 27-year-old, who plays in the Turkish Super Lig for Ankaragücü, has played in every position except goalkeeping. Kitsiou is a product of Greek side, Paok.
The oldest player on this list, Fabio Pacheco is a Portuguese footballer who plays for Moreirense F.C. as a defensive midfielder. The 32-year-old was acquired as a free transfer in 2018, with his contract expiring in 2021 and has turned out a shrewd addition ever since.
Judson Silva Tavares
The only non-European based player on this list of best tacklers in football, Judson’s crunching numbers are too good to ignore. The Brazilian plays for American side San Jose Earthquakes and averages almost 4 tackles per game.
Still only 27 and with football in America still under the radar, Hudson might be due a European big move.
Another single-named Brazilian, Bebeto is the second best tackler in football for players classed as right-backs. The 31-year-old had played majority of his football in his home country before securing a move to Maritimo in 2017.
Ranking as the second best tackling African on our list is PSV midfielder, Ibrahim Sangare. The Abidjan-born player is worth over €10 million and comes in as the second Netherlands-based man on this list.
Manchester United’s right-back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, is the second best tackler in England and the only Englishman on this list. A player of Congolese descent, Wan-Bissaka is one of the finest one-on-one tacklers in football.
He is also the second most valuable player on this list of best tacklers in football.
Joao Palhinha is a player from the admirable fleet of Sporting CP, the club that produced Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo. The 25-year-old is the best tackler in Portugal as well as the most valuable player not in the Top 5 League including in this list.
Since graduating from Sporting’s youth set-up, Palhinha have had to endure loan spells away from the Portuguese giants until cementing his place in 2020.
Danny Post is a Dutch professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for VVV-Venlo in the Eredivisie. The Dutch player has played almost all of his footballing life in his home country.
At 32, Post still makes over 3 tackles per game and is renowned for his astute positioning.
Best Tacklers in Football 2021
Here is a quick recap if the best tacklers in football in 2021 for simplified and easy reading.
1. Wilfred Ndidi
2. Pol Llonch
3. Stelios Kitsiou
4. Fabio Pacheco
7. Ibrahim Sangre
8. Wan Bissaka
9. Joao Palhinha
10. Danny Post