The definition of full-back has changed massively in recent years, but they remain one of the most important weapons of a team and here we learn about the top 10 right backs in world football.
A full-back is perhaps the most crucial position in contemporary football, as they must play both winger and defence. Right-backs were previously relegated to the defensive third. However, the rigours of contemporary football have compelled them to participate in their team’s offensive efforts.
The Colombian international played wide midfield for most of his career. But, under former Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri, he rapidly adjusted to the right-back position. Cuadrado has subsequently established himself as a full-back, putting up a run of outstanding performances in his new role.
Although the 33-year-old isn’t the finest defensive full-back in the world, his contributions in the opposing third are unrivalled. Cuadrado has also improved his defensive abilities. Under Massimiliano Allegri, he is one of the first names on the Juventus squad sheet.
Newcastle United’s latest addition Last season, Trippier was the top right-back in La Liga. Under Gareth Southgate’s guidance, the former Atletico de Madrid right-back put up some impressive displays at Euro 2020.
Tripper isn’t the fastest or strongest right back in the world, but his poise, crossing, and precision set-pieces make him a threat in the attacking third, and his placement ensures he’s seldom caught out by opposing wingers.
His success at the 2018 FIFA World Cup catapulted him into the spotlight. It won him a transfer to Bayern Munich, the German champions. With Joshua Kimmich being the club’s chosen right-back, it wasn’t easy for him to break through.
Coach Hansi Flick took a big gamble by moving Joshua Kimmich to a more central position, and it paid off handsomely, with Pavard fitting into the empty right-back post with ease. The French international has steadily improved to become one of the top right-backs in the world, making an impact on both ends of the play.
This 29-year-old Spanish right-back joined Real Madrid in 2013 and has since established himself as one of the greatest in the world. He has spent the last eight years at Real Madrid, where he has won several trophies.
Passing, dribbling, holding, and blocking are his favourite ways to use the ball. Carvajal is a terrific modern-day right-back because he is swift on the ball and mixes his defensive awareness with bombing runs up and down the right side.
Despite the abundance of right-back alternatives, the Chelsea teenager has fought his way into the England set-up, demonstrating his skill and character. James may not have Trent Alexander-delivery Arnold’s or Walker’s lightning speed, but he is a better all-around player than both.
Blues supporters will tell you he’s the greatest right-back in the country because he’s solid at the back and savvy up front. That may seem a little early, but at 21, he still has plenty of time to grow into a very outstanding defender.
Kyle Walker found a starting position tougher to come by for the first time in his Manchester City career when the club signed a new right-back. Walker has sat out several games due to teammate Joao Cancelo’s outstanding play (more on him later).
That doesn’t imply he’s gone backwards. He’s still the same mix of strength, speed, and drive he’s always been. His delivery may be inconsistent at times, but his defensive prowess makes him a lock for big games and key responsibilities. Walker, a club and country leader, would fit into practically any European back four.
In 2012, a Chelsea supporter would have laughed in your face if you told them that a somewhat unknown Spanish right-back recruited from Marseille would go on to win (nearly) everything there is to win at club level with the Blues over a nine-year span. Cesar Azpilicueta lifted the European Cup aloft in Porto in May 2021, making that a reality.
Despite never being the most technically gifted defender, Azpilicueta has fought his way up the ranks, developing an excellent tactical understanding of the game to compensate for his lack of speed and adapting to become a reliable option in four positions: right-back, wing-back, centre-back, and left-back.
Changing Cancelo’s role to allow him to push into central midfield as City played out from the back, then beyond, was perhaps Pep Guardiola’s best decision of the 2020/21 season. Cancelo morphed into a creative force, averaging 1.6 vital passes per game, second only to Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez, and was selected to the PFA Team of the Year as a result of the conversion.
According to reports, Real Madrid did not want Achraf Hakimi to depart following his brilliant loan spell at Borussia Dortmund. However, after joining Inter Milan in 2020, the Moroccan right-back quickly established himself as one of Antonio Conte’s most creative players, even contributing goals.
Now he plays for Les Galactiques in Paris, with players like Ramos, Neymar, and Mbappe, supplying Messi and Di Maria with overlapping runs. Despite the abundance of other superstars on the club, the Moroccan is one of the team’s stars, which speaks something about his abilities. He still has his prime years ahead of him.
There could never be more than one winner. While the other players on this list have reinvented themselves and found success in new roles, Trent Alexander-Arnold has completely redefined what it means to be a right-back – and no one does it better.
Alexander-Arnold, who is almost a deep-lying, right-sided playmaker at this moment, has notched up an incredible 18 assists for club and country in 2021, 13 of which have come this season. Although his defensive skill has been questioned, his statistics show that he is capable on both sides of the field.
While Liverpool did not win any trophies this season, and the 23-year-old was left out of England’s Euro 2020 team, his – and his club’s – form has been phenomenal this year.
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