Keep on runnin'
Jamie Carragher once quipped that no young kid wanted to grow up and become a Gary Neville, but the role of right-back is growing increasingly fashionable.
In this slideshow we pick out the best 10 in the world today...
10. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United)
If we were only taking last season’s performances into account, Wan-Bissaka would be much higher in these rankings. The then-Crystal Palace right-back enjoyed a sensational first full season as a professional, showcasing tremendous defensive skills and gradually improving his attacking contributions too.
Wan-Bissaka will see a lot more of the ball next season following his move to Manchester United, and he still has room to improve going forward. But as a one-versus-one defender, there are few better.
9. Ricardo Pereira (Leicester)
Ricardo took a while to ease into life at Leicester – defensively, at least – and proved himself so useful going forward that Claude Puel played him as a right-winger at the start of last season.
The Portuguese marauder settled down eventually, however, and set about proving himself as one of the Premier League's deadliest full-backs. The 25-year-old would get into several top European sides' first XI.
8. Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Walker ended 2018/19 with another Premier League winner’s medal around his neck, but his stock slipped a little as mistakes crept into his game last term. He could also fall behind Trent Alexander-Arnold in the England pecking order, particularly after the youngster’s superb showing against Switzerland at the Nations League Finals.
Nevertheless, Walker remains one of the world’s best right-backs. Previously a rampaging force at Tottenham, he’s become a much more rounded player after two seasons playing under Pep Guardiola at the Eithad Stadium.
7. Elseid Hysaj (Napoli)
In an era where full-backs are primarily judged by what they can do going forward, Hysaj is something of a throwback. The Albania international has only registered six Serie A assists since joining Napoli in 2015, despite the fact that his team have invariably been among the division’s highest scorers.
However, what Hysaj lacks in attacking dynamism, he more than makes up for in defensive solidity. If reports in Italy are true, former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri is desperate to be reunited with him at Juventus.
6. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Azpilicueta was deployed as a left-back under Jose Mourinho and then at centre-half by Antonio Conte, but he returned to his favoured position of right-back under Maurizio Sarri last term. Arguably one of the world’s most complete defenders, the Spaniard has successfully pocketed multiple wingers during his time at Stamford Bridge.
Unflappable, intelligent and rarely caught out of position, Azpilicueta has shown in recent years that the art of defending isn’t dead just yet. He’s also more than capable going forward, with his composure in possession and crossing ability both key.
5. Joao Cancelo (Juventus)
Juventus look set to sell Cancello this summer, and the identities of the interested parties – Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City – show how highly thought of he is by Europe’s elite.
Quick and full of energy, Cancelo loves nothing more than marauding down the right wing and joining the attack. The Portuguese’s stamina allows him to cover the entire flank for 90 minutes, and in possession he’s one of the most creative full-backs around.
4. Dani Alves (PSG)
Neymar isn’t the only Brazilian who hopes to be lining up for a team other than PSG next season. Alves called time on his two-year stay at the Parc des Princes last month, with a host of European giants weighing up an offer for the 36-year-old free agent.
Anyone who believes the former Barcelona no longer has anything to offer at the highest level should think again: Alves was sensational at this summer’s Copa America, once again assuming his role as part-right-back, part-playmaker.
3. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
If you assessed Alexander-Arnold’s attributes without watching him play, you would probably have him down as a central midfielder. A magnificent passer of the ball who also takes a mean set-piece, the locally-born academy product has become Liverpool’s creator-in-chief.
Perhaps Alexander-Arnold will eventually end up in the centre of the park, but Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to move him from right-back any time soon. His tally of 12 Premier League assists last term was the most any defender has managed in a domestic campaign.
2. Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
The 2018/19 campaign didn’t go well for Real Madrid, who failed to win a major trophy (the World Club Cup doesn’t count) for the first time in four seasons. Carvajal was hardly alone in suffering a downturn in form, but he still has plenty of credit in the bank after his significant contribution to the club’s three most recent Champions League triumphs.
Defensively sound and a threat when venturing forward, Carvajal’s broad skillset makes him the perfect modern full-back.
1. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
Having to replace Philipp Lahm at Bayern Munich is a thankless task, but Kimmich has done a sterling job of stepping into the World Cup winner’s sizeable shoes. The two Germans share more than a nationality: like Lahm, Kimmich is versatile, smart and technically gifted.
The 24-year-old is tough in the tackle and an astute reader of the game, as well as being an excellent passer and crosser. Kimmich is not just a wonderful right-back but also a wonderful all-round footballer.
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