Best Soccer Cleats for Defenders 2021

by | Updated on October 18, 2021

Our top choices among the best soccer cleats for defenders this year are:

  • Non-leather cleat: Adidas Predator Freak.1, the best soccer cleats for ball control and field control. It now has 360° coverage of rubber spikes for extra grip on the ball and for increased ball swerve.
  • Leather cleat: Nike Tiempo Legend 9, a soccer cleat built for comfort, speed, and support. This new model is the most lightweight Legend ever made.
soccer players

If you are a defender, you’ll probably wear your soccer cleats quicker than any other player on the soccer field. Interestingly, even if you are new to soccer, you’ll know if you have defensive instincts, although your role may change as you develop more skills.

Defenders have the most physically demanding role on the soccer field. In fact, if you don’t like the idea of colliding with other players most of the time or making hard tackles to be the first on the ball, stay away from the defensive lineup.

A soccer defender must be stronger or at least equal in strength to the opposing team’s forwards. He must be able to change direction faster than the opponent or muscle his way to intercept the ball and stop any offensive strategies.

These powerful movements put rough treatment on your soccer cleats but are very rewarding if you can defend your goal during a crucial match. Winning a game sometimes depends on how well the defensive lineup is after your team has scored a goal.

Much is required if you are a defender, whether you play in the center-back, sweeper, full-back, and wing-back positions. You have to play your very best to avoid costly mistakes that can leave your goalkeeper wide open to the opposing team’s striker.

What are the Best Soccer Cleats for Defenders?

Here’s what you should look for in a soccer cleat:

  • Better grip on the ground.
  • Speedy recovery so you can run back into a better position.
  • Better stability for lateral movements and quick release and change of direction.
  • More durable materials.

That said, the best soccer cleats for defenders are blade cleats that are excellent on straight-line and lateral movements because they have a better grip on the ground, are thinner, and offer superior turning ability. But you have to be aware that blade cleats are less stable than conical studs.

If blade cleats don’t work for you, choose the boot with a mixed blade and conical studs. In fact, there is a growing number of amateur and professional soccer players who prefer the mixed blade and conical studs because they have the best of both worlds – stability, excellent turning ability, and quick release from the ground.

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Best Adidas Soccer Cleats for Defenders

– Adidas Predator Freak.1 –

adidas predator freak.1
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Adidas Predator Freak.1 is all about control. And if you are in a defensive position (like sweeper) where you are given zero chance of making a mistake, this is the boot for you.

Among the Predator Freak models, the mid version has a better locked-in sensation on the instep, heel, and around the ankle.

Adidas Predator Freak.1 now has more evenly distributed rubber elements on the upper than ever. These rubber spikes make the ball stick to your foot, so you can command where to put it next. The rubber spikes also cause the ball to swerve and becomes hard for an opponent to predict and intercept.

This soccer cleat offers a responsive ride through a split soleplate called CONTROLFRAME. The outsole has blade studs under the heel and studs under the forefoot that looks more like a conical shape, which can add more stability to your stride.

Shop Predator Freak.1 »

– Adidas X Speedflow.1 –

adidas x speedflow.1
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If you want to match the speed of the opposing team’s fastest players, Adidas X Speedflow.1 is the speed cleat for you. This new model replaces the Ghosted.1 and is arguably the best boot for players looking for a barefoot-like experience.

This new soccer cleat is even more lightweight than its already very light predecessor. It has a much better Primeknit upper with an Engineered Agility Frame, a technology designed to wrap the foot and provide stability in all directions. It has a unique Carbon Fiber SpeedFrame underneath the forefoot to give you a responsive take-off that maintains your explosive movements.

Note: Since Adidas X Speedflow.1 has a thinner upper, it makes you more prone to impact injury. So take extra care when colliding with other players on the field.

Shop X Speedflow.1 »

For those who love a cleaner ball contact, go for Adidas X Speedflow+. This soccer cleat has a better laceless design and a more superior upper material than its predecessor. It is the best one to try among all laceless boots.

Best Nike Defender Soccer Cleats

– Nike Phantom GT2 Elite –

nike phantom gt2
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Nike Phantom GT2 is a smooth all-rounder with the dynamic traction you need for quick changes in the lateral direction. It is similar to the Mercurials, although slightly better on side-to-side movements due to its combined technologies from the Phantom Venom and Vision.

Nike Phantom GT2 may not accelerate as fast as the Mercurials, but it won’t hold you back when running at top speed. This football boot has a Generative Texture all over its one-piece Flyknit upper for better control of the ball. It has the all-new Hyperquick system through a tuned chassis that offers more stability. And an updated stud layout for dynamic traction. See full review »

Shop Phantom GT2 »

– Nike Tiempo Legend 9 Elite –

nike tiempo legend 9
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Nike Tiempo Legend 9 is our top pick in leather cleats for defensive positions. It now offers a better close-to-the-foot sensation and has everything you need to defend your team.

This soccer cleat has mixed blades and conical studs for stability, excellent turning ability, and quick release from the ground. It is well-padded and will give you long-lasting comfort. It has a soft k-leather that can protect you from impact injury. And soft foam pods that hug the foot better than the previous Quadfit mesh.

Nike Tiempo Legend 9 is the most lightweight Legend ever. It has been redesigned for speed and comes with a Hyperstability soleplate, which offers comfort and traction regardless of field condition.

Shop Tiempo Legend 9 »

– Nike Mercurial Vapor 14 Elite –

nike mercurial vapor 14
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If speed is your priority, nothing beats Nike Mercurial Vapor 14. It’s arguably the fastest soccer cleat when it comes to acceleration. And it’s made possible through its 7.2 oz weight, new Speed Band around the forefoot, designed to be always ready to accelerate, and Nike Aerotrak 2 soleplate that is all about speed.

But Nike Mercurial Vapor 14 is not only about speed, but it also has the perfect blend of comfort, flexibility, support, and shock absorption. In fact, it’s a doctor-recommended soccer cleat for players who suffer heel pain due to plantar fasciitis.

The only concern of this boot when used on defensive roles is that being a speed cleat, it has a relatively thinner upper, which makes you more prone to impact injury. So take extra care when colliding with other players on the soccer field.

Shop Mercurial Vapor 14 »

If you want more support around the ankle, go for Nike Mercurial Superfly 8, which has a higher Dynamic Fit collar. It is also Nike’s elite offering when it comes to the Mercurials.

Best PUMA Defender Cleats

– PUMA Ultra 1.2 –

PUMA Ultra 1.2
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PUMA Ultra 1.2 is another speed cleat you can use on any defensive position. It has blade cleats underneath the heel and conical-like shape studs on the forefoot.

This new model has more volume and feels more padded than any other speed cleat. In fact, despite its weight being 5.6 oz only, it is not far behind in terms of lining than the most padded PUMA boot – PUMA FUTURE 6.1.

PUMA Ultra 1.2 has a MATRYXEVO woven upper, which offers efficient support even during your fastest movements. It has a GripControl Pro coating so that you can control the ball better. And a super light Pebax SpeedUnit outsole, which offers optimal grip and fast acceleration.

Shop Ultra 1.2 »


puma future z 1.2
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To stop the opposing team’s most creative and energetic forwards, you need a soccer cleat designed for agility, control, and speed.

All these demands can be delivered by one good-looking boot – PUMA FUTURE Z 1.2. It’s the official football boot of Neymar Jr., and it is also super effective on defensive positions due to its unique features.

PUMA FUTURE Z 1.2 has an excellent locked-in fit through an adaptive FUZIONFIT+ compression band, a supportive belt that squeezes the entire midfoot every time you make explosive movements. This soccer cleat is also structured on the heel and forefoot and will give your foot optimal support.

The FUTURE Z 1.2 has PUMA’s GripControl Pro coating for better control of the ball. And Dynamic Motion System asymmetric outsole with mixed blades and conical-like studs that support multidirectional movement and traction on any natural surfaces.

Shop FUTURE Z 1.2 »

Best Defender Soccer Cleats with Conical-like Studs

If there are exceptions to the rule of blade cleats being the ideal studs for defensive positions, they have to be the last three soccer cleats on this list. They are worth considering if blade cleats won’t work for you.

Conical studs offer more stability and allow the foot to function normally. But the boots have to be agile to be more effective in defensive positions.

– Mizuno Morelia Neo III Beta –

Mizuno Morelia Neo III Beta MIJ
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The Morelia Neo III Beta is Mizuno’s own speed cleat. It weighs only 7.0 oz and is built for speed and touch. It has a thin soleplate with round studs from which we wish Mizuno could come up with a more aggressive plate in the future to make this amazing soccer cleat more versatile.

But the Mizuno technology blends very well with the high-quality materials on this soccer cleat.

Mizuno Morelia Neo III Beta has a soft k-leather upper with a thin synthetic material that wraps around the entire midfoot for a sure locked-in fit and a more precise touch on the ball. As expected, this latest model is super durable. And it is arguably the most comfortable soccer cleat for 2021.

Shop Morelia Neo III Beta »

– Adidas Copa 20.1 –

adidas Copa 20.1
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Adidas Copa 20.1 has a unique and pure touch of the ball. Although this model already has a successor, the Copa Sense.1, most professional players choose the Copa 20.1 over the latest model (arguably) because it has more leather material than its successor.

Adidas Copa 20.1 has a welded texture on the leather upper to enhance your control of the ball. It has an Exoframe outsole with rotational studs, which offers stability, maximum traction, and pivoting ability. The leather material on this boot can also protect you from impact injury.

Shop Copa 20.1 »

– Adidas Nemeziz 19.1 –

adidas nemeziz 19.1
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Adidas Nemeziz 19.1 is built for agility and the touch of the ball. And it’s equally effective on any offensive role and defensive position. It has Tensiontape on the upper that gives enough support as you twist and turn at maximum speed.

Even though this soccer cleat has a successor already, the Nemeziz.1, its official player (Lionel Messi), prefers to wear it. And that’s how good this soccer cleat is.

Adidas Nemeziz 19.1 has a low-cut V-shaped collar that gives your ankle complete mobility. It has a split plate to give the foot more freedom of movement. See full review »

Shop Nemeziz 19.1 »

Did you know that a successful full-back can assume other roles on the soccer field, such as midfielder positions, and still be as effective? A defender who is dominant in ball control can be an excellent midfielder as well.

A successful defender can score a goal while in a midfield position. And he is a feared opponent in the air during corner kicks.

Those defenders who want a better grip on the ground and quick release when running and changing directions must choose the soccer cleats with mixed blades and round protrusions.

The mixed blade and round studs will give you superior support for lateral movements so you can make a quick change of direction and quick release from the ground at the crucial moment as you run to help your team on a counter-attack.

Mixed blades and round cleats are very useful for wing-back defenders whose roles put a heavier emphasis on the attack.

Final Thoughts on the Best Cleats for Defenders

Many of the soccer cleats mentioned above are speed cleats. They are made of super-thin and more lightweight materials but are capable of supporting your every movement.

But speed cleats will give you less protection, so you’ll be prone to an impact injury. If you want more protection on the upper side of your boot, go for leather soccer cleats because they usually have thicker materials, mold better to the shape of your feet over time, are more durable, and are more comfortable for long-term use.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Best Soccer Cleats for Fullbacks?

Most soccer fullbacks would prefer blade cleats because they have a better grip on the ground and superior turning ability. But if you want more stability and quicker release from the ground, go for mixed blade and conical studs.

What are the Best Soccer Cleats for Center Backs?

The best soccer cleats for center backs are all-rounder cleats that are excellent on straight-line acceleration and lateral movements to help the center back to be the first on the ball. The best examples of these boots are Nike Phantom GT2, Nike Mercurial Vapor 14, PUMA FUTURE Z 1.2, and Adidas Predator Freak.1.

What are the Best Women’s Soccer Cleats for Defenders?

Most soccer cleats are unisex, so you can choose any of the defender cleats. But you may have to size down a full size to get the right fit. Women soccer players may choose boots with conical studs for extra stability and for better performance on the soccer field.

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