Skip to main content

Ranked! The 10 best right-backs in the world

Trent Alexander-Arnold, best right-backs

Discussing the world's best right-backs was not something most would have considered doing even 15 years ago.

"Nobody grows up wanting to be a Gary Neville" as the famous Jamie Carragher line goes. He may have had a point, with right-back not always considered the sexiest position on the field in days gone by. 

Times are changing, though, with the role having a greater impact on attacking play and team shape than ever before. Here, we take a look at the ten best.  

RANKED! The 10 best central midfielders in the world
 

10. Sergino Dest (Barcelona)

Sergino Dest, best right-backs

(Image credit: Getty)

Barcelona pipped Bayern to the Dutchman’s signature last summer, with a £20m fee required to prise him from Ajax, and it already appears smart business. Dest is quick, aggressive and composed on the ball – and is a new addition to our best right-backs list.

His dribbling and passing are unsurprisingly excellent for an Ajax-academy graduate, and his partnership with Lionel Messi down the right flank is showing promise. The issue is the defensive side of his game. He’s poor in the air and his ability to time and executive tackles needs improvement. One of the best young right backs in the world going forward, but with a lot to learn about the defensive aspects of elite football. 

9. Fabian Centonze (Metz)

Fabian Centonze, best right-backs

(Image credit: Getty)

OK, so Metz have lost more games than they’ve won this season. Full-backs are evolving to become flashier and more important than ever but Fabian Centonze has been the kind of sturdy, reliable performer that you’d imagine succeeding in any era of the game. 

Another newbie on the best right-backs list, the 25-year-old is a superb ball-winner and manages the basics of a defender’s job well. He’s not the flashiest player on this list but he’s one who never lets the side down, with a strong work ethic and pinpoint positioning. 

8. Reece James (Chelsea)

Reece James, best right-backs

(Image credit: Getty)

The fact the Chelsea youngster has forced his way into the England set-up, despite the wealth of right-back options, is testament to his ability and character. James might not have the delivery of Trent Alexander-Arnnold, or the lighting pace of Walker, but he’s a better all-rounder than either. 

Solid at the back and intelligent going forward, Blues fans will tell you he's the best right-back in the country. Two Premier League assists show he’s probably got a fair way to go to earn that status but, at 21, he has plenty of time to develop into a truly magnificent defender.  

7. Juan Cuadrado (Juventus)

Juventus, best right-backs

(Image credit: Getty)

Considering how badly he flopped at Chelsea, Juan Cuadrado’s career has gone from strength to strength since returning to Serie A. 

Cuadrado moved to Juventus as a right-winger. Now 32, he’s firmly established as a right-back in Andrea Pirlo’s side, having developed a better positional sense and timing for his marauding runs to support the attack. The Colombian is now one of the elder statesmen of Juve’s side and one of the best-performing full-backs in Italy this season, despite Juventus’s mixed fortunes.

6. Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Kyle Walker, best right-backs

(Image credit: Getty)

For the first time in his Manchester City career, Kyle Walker has found a starting berth harder to come by. Such has been the excellent form of teammate Joao Cancelo (more on him further down), Walker has watched games from the bench. 

That doesn’t mean he’s regressed, however. He remains the same blend of power, pace and determination he has always been. His delivery can lack at times - he’s managed only 15 assists in more than 175 appearances for his club - but his defensive ability makes him a shoe-in for big games and important assignments. A leader for club and country, Walker would probably walk into almost any back four in Europe. 

5. Leo Dubois (Olympique Lyonnais)

Leo Dubois, best right-backs

(Image credit: Getty)

A modern full-back in every sense, Leo Dubois has established himself as a France international and one of the best right-backs in Ligue 1 over the past year, thanks to bursts into the final third and his penchant for whipping crosses into dangerous areas. 

The 26-year-old is probably good enough to play in midfield as well as in defence. He offers accurate passing and he isn’t exactly a slouch defensively, either. The Frenchman could well get a move to the Premier League or beyond if he keeps up his impressive development. 

4. Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)

Kieran Trippier, best right-backs

(Image credit: Getty)

How many English players can you fit on one list about the world's best right-backs, you ask?

The standout right back in La Liga this season. Kieran Trippier has been defensively solid while weighing in with six assists to help Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side climb to the apex of the Spanish top flight. 

Tripper isn’t the quickest or strongest right back in the world, but his composure, crossing and pinpoint set-pieces make him a danger going forward, and his positioning means he rarely gets caught out by opposition wingers. Gareth Southgate is a keen admirer and, despite a wealth of options available to the Three Lions gaffer, there’s a very good chance he starts with Tripper in the opening game of Euro 2020. 

3. Achraf Hakimi (Inter Milan)

Achraf Hakimi, best right-backs

(Image credit: Getty)

The rumours were that Real Madrid didn’t particularly want to let Achraf Hakimi leave after his blazing loan spell at Borussia Dortmund. Since joining Inter Milan last summer, however, the Moroccan right-back has become one of the standouts in Antonio Conte’s side, providing creativity in abundance and even chipping in with goals. 

In fact, Hakimi has scored six this season and been one of the principle creators in the side from a wing-back berth. His passing is exceptional, his dribbling and speed on the ball is also impressive and at just 22, the sky's the limit for how much he might improve. He could well be one of the best right-backs in the world for years to come.

2. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Trent Alexander-Arnold, best right-backs

(Image credit: Getty)

Gareth Southgate’s decision to leave the Liverpool starlet out of the England squad during March’s fixtures felt astonishing. No, Trent hadn’t been at his best over the course of the season, but this was one of the best right-backs in the world cast aside ahead of a major tournament.

Trent’s standards have become so high that a season in which he’s chipped in seven assists and two goals feels like a disappointment. Liverpool’s makeshift back four hasn’t helped him play his best football, yet their no.66 has been an ever-present, working hard to keep the Red’s Champions League ambitions on course. 

Last season’s 13 Premier League assists left him second only to Kevin De Bruyne in the creativity stakes and he remains the only player in the English top flight - possibly the world - who can rival the Belgian for pure delivery. He’s a class act, and Southgate will make himself vulnerable if he leaves Trent at home this summer. 

1. Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

Joao Cancelo, best right-backs

(Image credit: Getty)

It’s not often that a full-back manages to become the outstanding asset in a title-winning side. But watching Joao Cancelo for Manchester City this season, the Portuguese has often been the star of the show.

He's not been a contender for top spot of FourFourTwo's best right-backs list before, but the way he's currently playing, he could make this place his own.

Cancelo functions as a defender, a midfielder and an attacker all in one. He’s always available for a pass, always where he needs to be and has refined his game to be a go-to man for Pep Guardiola to fashion into whatever City need from him. He’s a superb passer, calm on the ball and resilient defensively, making him excellent in whichever phase of play he finds himself in.

And as if he wasn’t good enough on the right, he can also play at left-back, too. Cancelo has been one of the best players in the world in any position this season and a big reason that City have dominated since Christmas. 

Subscribe to FourFourTwo today and get your first five issues for just £5 for a limited time only - all the features, exclusive interviews, long reads and quizzes - for a cheaper price!

NOW READ

RICH JOLLY What kind of team are Carlo Ancelotti's Everton?

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5 candidates who could replace Jose Mourinho as manager

SUPER LEAGUE SHAMBLES Why was the European Super League's launch so bad?