16 Best Soccer Cleats for Defenders (the Ultimate List)

Updated July 6, 2022 | by

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Our topmost choices for the best soccer cleats for defenders:

  • Synthetic: Nike Phantom GT2 — the most famous defender soccer cleat among professional players. This control cleat feels like the Mercurials but is better on side-to-side movements.
  • Leather: Nike Tiempo Legend 9 — the most famous defender leather soccer cleat and the lightest Tiempo model ever made, built for comfort, speed, and support.

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

A soccer defender has one of the most physically demanding roles on the soccer field. And 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.

best soccer cleats for a defender

A defender must be stronger or at least equal in strength to any opposing team’s forwards. He can 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 successfully.

Much is required if you are a defender. So you need the best soccer cleats 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 a defender?

The best soccer cleats for a defender have the following features:

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

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

So if you want more stability, choose the shoe with a mixed blade and conical studs. It’s a new approach. And a growing number of amateur and professional soccer players prefer this configuration because they have the best of both worlds – stability, excellent turning ability, and quick release from the ground.

best soccer cleats for a defender

The Best Adidas Soccer Cleats for Defenders

— Adidas Predator Freak.1 —

adidas predator freak.1
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Center Back and Sweeper.

Adidas Predator Freak.1 is all about control. And if you are in a defensive position like center back or sweeper, this is the shoe for you. Among the Predator Freak models, the mid version has a better locked-in fit on the instep, heel, and around the ankle, although the low-cut version is the most famous shoe.

The 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. The outsole also offers a responsive ride through a split plate called CONTROLFRAME. It has blade studs and conical-like studs for optimal grip, power, and control.

Shop Predator Freak.1 at Soccer »

Cheaper alternative: Adidas Predator Freak.2. It is $120 cheaper than Freak .1 but also has the 360° coverage of the sticky rubber spikes. It has a soleplate that looks very much like the Freak .1.

— Adidas Predator Edge.1 Low —

adidas predator edge.1
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Fullback, Wingback, Center Back, and Sweeper

Adidas Predator Edge.1 is significantly more popular than its predecessor, the Predator Freak.1, among professional soccer defenders. It has more volume and power than the outgoing model, although it may have a lesser precision when it comes to touch on the ball. But you can wear it anywhere in the defensive lineup.

The Predator Edge.1 has a ZONE SKIN technology, made from rubberized ribs, on the instep and toe box for enhanced ball manipulation. It has a PRIMEKNIT collar for breathability. And a FACET FRAME soleplate, which offers more stability, dynamic traction, and an optimized power transfer when striking the ball.

Shop Predator Edge.1 at Soccer »

Cheaper alternative: Adidas Predator Edge.2. It is $120 cheaper than Edge .1 but also has the new ZONE SKIN technology and weighs almost the same as its high-grade model.

— Adidas X Speedflow.1 —

adidas x speedflow.1
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Fullback, Wingback, Center Back, and Sweeper.

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 shoe for players looking for a barefoot-like sensation.

Adidas X Speedflow.1 is the second most popular soccer cleat among professional defenders. 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.

Shop X Speedflow.1 at Soccer »

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

Cheaper alternative: Adidas X Speedflow.2. It is $120 cheaper than Speedflow .1 but has an upper material similar to the X Ghosted.1, although the soleplate misses out on Carbitex SpeedFrame technology.

— Adidas Copa Sense.1 —

adidas copa sense .1
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Center Back, Sweeper, Fullback, and Wingback.

Adidas Copa Sense.1 is a leather cleat with plenty of technologies designed to manipulate the ball completely. It is the second most famous leather cleat among professional defenders and is very effective in any defensive position.

The Copa Sense.1 has a kangaroo leather upper with FUSIONSKIN, a material that molds to the shape of your foot. It has well-placed SENSEPODS, designed to eliminate negative space. The medial and lateral sides also have TOUCHPODS, which absorb impact energy off the ball. And it has a new anatomically shaped Copa Sense outsole with traction studs for enhanced stability, acceleration, flexibility, and traction in all directions.

Shop Copa Sense.1 at Soccer »

Cheaper alternative: Adidas Copa Sense.2. It is $105 cheaper than Sense.1. But it looks and feels like a high-grade model. It also has a leather upper with TOUCHPODS technology, designed to absorb impact energy where the ball meets the foot. You can even go down to the lowest tier, the Copa Sense.3 ($80 only), and still get a good-performing soccer cleat.

— Adidas Copa 20.1 —

adidas copa 20.1
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Fullback and Wingback

Adidas Copa 20.1 has a unique and pure touch on the ball. Although this model already has a successor, the Copa Sense.1, many professional defenders choose the Copa 20.1 over the latest model 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 that offer stability, maximum traction, and pivoting ability. The thick leather material on this shoe can also protect you from impact injury.

Shop Copa 20.1 at Soccer »

— Adidas Nemeziz.1 —

adidas nemeziz.1
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Center Back and Sweeper.

Adidas Nemeziz.1 is a favorite agility soccer cleat of professional players in the Center Back, Sweeper, and Attacking Midfielder positions. It has a quick and agile pedigree, which gave Lionel Messi tremendous success on the soccer field. Although he skipped this latest model and preferred the more speedy X Speedflow Messi.1, it is one of your best options if you are a defender.

The Nemeziz.1 has Tensiontape on the upper, which offers an adaptive fit and feel. It wraps around the foot, giving you a barefoot-like touch on the ball. And it has a comfortable footbed and a Torsionframe outsole with split plate tooling, which provides freedom of movement, stability, and traction for multidirectional movements.

Shop Nemeziz.1 at Soccer »

— Adidas Nemeziz 19.1 —

adidas nemeziz 19.1
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Center Back and Sweeper.

Adidas Nemeziz 19.1 is a soccer cleat for agility and the touch of the ball. It is equally effective in any offensive and defensive position. This shoe has Tensiontape on the upper that gives enough support as you twist and turn at maximum speed. And it has a split plate that offers more freedom of movement to the foot.

Shop Nemeziz 19.1 at Soccer »

The Best Nike Defender Soccer Cleats

— Nike Phantom GT2 Elite —

nike phantom gt2
Image source: Nike.com

Effective positions: Wingback, Fullback, Center Back, and Sweeper.

Nike Phantom GT2 is an all-around soccer cleat with the dynamic traction you need for quick changes in the lateral direction. It feels like the Mercurials but better on side-to-side movements because of its Hyperquick soleplate system.

The Phantom GT2 may not be as fast as the Mercurials, but it won’t hold you back when you accelerate at top speed. This soccer cleat has a Generative Texture (GT) all over its one-piece Flyknit upper for better ball control. It has the all-new Hyperquick system through a tuned chassis, which offers more stability. And an updated stud layout for dynamic traction.

Shop Phantom GT2 at Nike »

Cheaper alternative: Nike Phantom GT2 Pro. It is $120 cheaper than the elite model but has an almost identical Flyknit upper (with GT technology). The fit is also similar to its top-end model.

— Nike Tiempo Legend 9 Elite —

nike tiempo legend 9
Image source: Nike.com

Effective positions: Center Back, Sweeper, Wingback, and Fullback.

Nike Tiempo Legend 9 is the most famous leather soccer cleat for defensive positions. It has mixed blades and conical studs for stability, excellent turning ability, and quick release from the ground. It is well-padded and offers long-lasting comfort and support. It has a soft kangaroo leather upper that helps protect the foot from impact injury. And a series of soft foam pods underneath, which hug the foot better than the previous Quadfit mesh.

Shop Tiempo Legend 9 at Nike »

Cheaper alternative: Nike Tiempo Legend 9 Pro. It is $100 cheaper than the elite model. But it has quality materials and looks and feels very much like its high-grade model.

— Nike Mercurial Vapor 14 Elite —

nike mercurial vapor 14
Image source: Nike.com

Effective positions: Wingback, Center Back, and Sweeper.

If speed is your priority, nothing beats Nike Mercurial Vapor 14. It is the fastest soccer cleat in fast-forward motion. This shoe has a new Speed Band technology around the forefoot and a super-fast Nike Aerotrak 2 soleplate. Some sports medicine physicians also say it has the perfect blend of comfort, flexibility, support, and shock absorption.

Shop Mercurial Vapor 14 at Nike »

If you want more support around the ankle, go for its twin brother, the Mercurial Superfly 8. It has a higher Dynamic Fit collar, designed to provide compression and prevent small pebbles from getting inside the shoe.

Cheaper alternative: Nike Mercurial Vapor 14 Pro. It is $110 cheaper than the elite model but feels like its top-end version, with materials not far behind in quality and performance.

The Best PUMA Defender Soccer Cleats

— PUMA Ultra 1.4 —

puma ultra 1.4
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Center Back, Sweeper, Fullback, and Wingback.

The Ultra 1.4 is PUMA’s fastest soccer cleat. And it is the 3rd most popular shoe among professional defenders, just behind Nike Phantom GT2 and Adidas X Speedflow.1. It is an all-around speed cleat you can wear anywhere in the defensive lineup.

PUMA Ultra 1.4 uses MATRYXEVO upper technology and Internal SPEEDCAGE for multidirectional support. It has slight improvements from the previous model and continues to have excellent locked-in fit, support, and barefoot-like touch on the ball. It also has a comfortable footbed and a SpeedUnit outsole known for its running spike DNA.

Shop Ultra 1.4 at Soccer »

Cheaper alternative: PUMA Ultra 2.4. It is $70 cheaper than the Ultra 1.4. But it has premium materials that look and feel similar to the previous top-end models of the Ultra. You can even go further down to the cheapest model, the Ultra 3.4 ($80 only), and still get a good soccer cleat.

— PUMA FUTURE 1.3 —

puma future z 1.3
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Fullback, Wingback, Center Back, and Sweeper.

If you want to match the opposing team’s most creative and energetic forwards, you need a soccer cleat designed for agility, control, and speed. One stunning shoe that can deliver all these demands is PUMA FUTURE 1.3. It is super effective in defensive positions because of its unique features.

PUMA FUTURE 1.3 offers an excellent locked-in fit in the midfoot through its second-generation adaptive FUZIONFIT+ compression band. It has a GripControl Pro coating for better ball control. And Dynamic Motion System asymmetric outsole with mixed blades and conical-like studs that provide support for multidirectional movement and traction on any natural surfaces.

Shop FUTURE 1.3 at Soccer »

Cheaper alternative: PUMA FUTURE 2.3. It is $70 cheaper than FUTURE 1.3. But it has premium materials and looks almost identical to its high-grade model. It also has a FUZIONFIT technology and a similar soleplate as its top-end model.

Other Brands with the Best Soccer Cleats for Defenders

— Lotto Solista 200 IV Gravity —

lotto solista 200 iv
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Center Back and Sweeper

Lotto Solista 200 IV is the most affordable top-end defender soccer cleat on this list. It has high-quality materials offered at a price similar to some takedown models. This shoe has at least one professional soccer player using it in the center back and sweeper positions.

The Solista 200 IV is lighter than the Mercurials. It has a soft, one-piece 3D knit upper, which hugs the foot like a sock. The upper has embossing on top for enhanced ball control and a soft interior and padding for long-lasting comfort and support. It has a Punto Flex technology on the forefoot, designed to improve flexibility and reactivity. And six well-placed EVO studs and five conical studs for enhanced stability, acceleration, flexibility, and traction in all directions.

Shop Solista 200 IV at Soccer »

— New Balance Furon V6+ Pro —

new balance furon v6
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Fullback, Wingback, Center Back, and Sweeper.

New Balance Furon V6+ Pro is the speed cleat that soccer players should seriously consider for the defensive lineup. It is New Balance’s best soccer cleat. And it is light and fast and can perform very well in any defensive position.

The Furon V6+ Pro has New Balance’s next-generation Fit Weave technology, which offers a sock-like fit, great stability, and multidirectional support. The Hypoknit upper has Hyposkin clear film on top, designed to resist water. The interior is soft and provides long-lasting comfort. The insole has infiniGRIP, which helps reduce foot slippage. And it has a nylon plate with ribbed midfoot and Chevron-shaped studs, which offer plenty of stability in all directions.

Shop Furon V6+ Pro at Soccer »

Cheaper alternative: New Balance Furon V6+ Destroy. It is $95 cheaper than the Furon V6+ Pro. But it feels fast, agile, soft, and comfortable like its high-grade model. This first takedown model also has a Fit Weave stretch upper and Nanofront sock liner.

— Mizuno Morelia Neo III Beta —

mizuno morelia neo iii beta
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Fullback, Wingback, Center Back, and Sweeper.

Mizuno Morelia Neo III Beta is a soccer cleat built for speed and touch. It weighs 7.0 oz only and has a thin soleplate with round studs. The modern soleplate blends perfectly with its high-quality materials.

This soccer cleat has a soft kangaroo leather upper with a thin synthetic material that wraps around the entire midfoot for a sure lock-in and a more precise touch on the ball. It is super durable and is the only soccer cleat you need for all your matches.

Shop Morelia Neo III Beta at Soccer »

Cheaper alternative: Mizuno Morelia Neo III Pro KL. It is $210 cheaper than the Neo III Beta. But it also has a k-leather upper, a sockliner with rough coating, and a classic molded soleplate with plenty of stability and comfort.

— TRU TENACI —

tru tenaci
Image source: Soccer.com

Effective positions: Fullback, Wingback, Center Back, and Sweeper.

TRU TENACI is the most expensive soccer cleat on this list, but you can use it in any defensive position. It is a versatile shoe with a four-layer knitted upper, which focuses on fit, feel, and form. It has a unique insole with nano-fiber materials that, when worn with non-slip grip socks like TRUSOX, will lock the foot down through every change of direction. This shoe also has a modern lightweight outsole with all-conical studs that offer traction, stability, and comfort.

Shop TRU TENACI at Soccer »

Did you know that a successful full-back can assume other roles in 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

Many of the soccer cleats mentioned above are speed cleats. Their brands made them super-thin. They have more lightweight materials, but can support your every movement.

However, 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 have thicker materials, mold better to the shape of your feet over time, and are more durable and comfortable for long-term use.

Best Defender Soccer Cleats: 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.

Is Nike Mercurial good for defenders?

Yes, especially the Mercurial Vapor 14. You’ll often see this boot in the full-back, center-back, and wing-back positions. Although the upper of the shoe is on the thinner side, it will give you an equal chance of catching up with the fastest players on straight-line runs.

What cleats does Ramos wear?

Sergio Ramos wears Mizuno Morelia Neo III Beta MIJ for the season 2021-22. He plays as a defender for Paris Saint-Germain.

What are the most supportive soccer cleats?

The most supportive soccer cleats help prevent injuries on the soccer field. Here are some sports medicine physicians’ favorites: Nike Mercurial Vapor 14 & Superfly 8, Nike Tiempo Legend 9, Adidas Copa Mundial, and New Balance Furon V6+.

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 1.3, 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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About Lem Anota

He played as a defender/midfielder for many years but is also proficient in other roles on the soccer field. During his younger years, Lem played in major competitions. Today, he tests soccer cleats and running shoes and gives feedback regarding their quality, technology, comfort, and performance.