Are defenders better than forwards? At a simple glance, it would appear that the obvious answer is to say no, that forwards are superior in playing ability. We all know this from an early age, the best players get to play in an attacking role and the less talented are stuck at the back. That's how things start in the first kickabouts. The other day former Atleti great Kiko discussed the very same matter and stated how in Atletico Madrid training sessions the defenders would always beat the forwards in casual post training games. It's a question I've posed recently to many within the game: Who would win in a match composed of 11 forwards against 11 defenders and the feedback is unanimous....the defenders are victorious.
This is something then of a paradox as the transfer market would suggest the total opposite. Strikers are more expensive and earn more and we all see this as being a totally acceptable situation. When we go to a game, it's the strikers who we want to see in action, defenders are there to break things up and resolve problems but it's the forward line that we deposit our hope in as fans of a certain team. However when a player is sent off, a coach will always sacrifice a a striker and that even applies when a defender is red carded, it's always the strike-force who lose a player to compensate for the rear-guard line.
All of a sudden we're starting to see value attached to good, solid defenders. Dutch player Van Dijk moving to Liverpool for 80 million euro generated plenty of headlines for his position. The money invested by Pep Guardiola on rear-guard players is also revealing. Spending 65 million euro on Aymeric Laporte was testimony to his faith in the importance of a solid and composed defender. His acquisition then caused the domino effect that saw the controversial move of Íñigo Martínez from Real Sociedad to Basque neighbours, but also rivals Athletic Club. The window also saw the tension between Sevilla and Betis in securing the signature of Mexican wing back Layún with Betis making a statement of their own a day later with the acquisition of Marc Bartra. Defenders are "in"!