Top 10 right backs in the world right now

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Jason Ence

December 2nd, 2021

As the game of soccer evolves and managers like Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel produce tactical wizardry, the role of the right back continues to change from a defensive-minded position to a key component in a team’s attack.

Here are the 10 best players to man the right fullback or wingback position in the world today.

10. Juan Cuadrado, Juventus

Just like with our “best left backs” list, the 10th spot is held down by a Juventus player.

Cuadrado moved from a winger position to right back for the Turin unit, and this season, he has two goals in 14 starts.

His outstanding dribbling allows him to get into position to set up teammates, as he is second on the team this year to Paulo Dybala in key passes, and is coming off a 2020-21 campaign where he registered 16 assists in 32 starts.

9. Jesus Navas, Sevilla

Despite being in the final years of his career, the 36-year-old Spaniard is another winger who has converted to a defensive role.

He is averaging almost five crosses per match this season, and has two assists in 12 starts for Sevilla this year. Over the past two seasons, he has registered 15 assists, and his 2.3 key passes per match this season are by far the most on the team.

8. Denzel Dumfries, Inter Milan

Signed in the summer from PSV Eindhoven, the 25-year-old has already tallied three assists in just six starts this campaign.

He has started about half of Inter’s matches this season, yet is tied for assists on the team. He was a star for the Netherlands in this summer’s European Championships, where he scored two goals in four appearances, and scored three goals with seven assists for Eindhoven in 2020-21.

7. Benjamin Pavard, Bayern Munich

Pavard has dealt with injuries over the past year, but his performance at right back allowed Bayern Munich to move Joshua Kimmich from defense to midfield.

The 25-year-old does not post impressive offensive numbers but could make an argument for the best defensive player on the list. That said, give him space to shoot at his own peril, as he has deadly accuracy from long range.

6. Kyle Walker, Manchester City

England doesn’t have to worry about the right back position anytime soon.

The first of four British players in our top six, Walker isn’t even the highest rated at his position for either his own country or club, Manchester City (more on that later).

That said, Walker’s combination of size and speed makes him a terror for any attacker that tries to beat him, and he can even fill in at center back.

At 31 years old, he has shown no sign of dropping pace, but he isn’t providing as many offensive returns as years past. 

5. Kieran Trippier, Atletico Madrid

Our second English right back uses outstanding passing and defensive acumen to place in the top five of this list.

The best right back in La Liga last season, the 31-year-old registered six goals for Atletico Madrid in 2020-21 and helped the club win the La Liga title, as they conceded a league-fewest 25 goals in 38 matches.

Trippier is also a terrific set piece taker, although he tends to look for a teammate rather than going for goal.

4. Reece James, Chelsea

By far the most in-form player on the list, James has exploded this season for Chelsea with his outstanding offensive returns.

The English right-wingback is just 21 years old, but he leads the club with five goals in 12 total starts this season and ranks second on the team with five assists.

If his play over the past two months continues, he could easily find himself atop this list before the season ends.

3. Joao Cancelo, Manchester City

Cancelo is the reason Walker is not the best right back on City’s roster this year.

While they often both play, with Cancelo deputizing on the left due to being a true two-footed player, the Portuguese is moving up this list month by month.

This season, he has already bagged two goals and racked up six assists in 19 matches, and has been one of City’s best players in Champions League, where he averages more than two key passes per match and has won more than half his challenges.

2. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool

Depending on what you value more, these top two could be interchangeable. If you value offensive ability from the right back position, the 23-year-old Alexander-Arnold is your man.

While he can be a defensive liability at times, he is one of the most accurate crossers in the world, and his pace allows him to put pressure on any defense.

He averages nearly three key passes per match, and the British right back already has a goal and nine assists this campaign, already equaling his assist number from 2020-21.

You risk fouling his teammates around the area at your own peril, as he has also established himself as one of the best free-kick takers in the world.  

1. Achraf Hakimi, PSG

The 23-year-old Moroccan right back, Hakimi came over from Inter in the summer after scoring seven goals and assisting nine others in 2020-21, and has been outstanding in defense.

He quickly endeared himself to PSG fans by scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Metz in September, including a 95th-minute winner, and has three goals and two assists in 18 matches.

He leads the team with 32 tackles and is third in interceptions. He is also an outstanding dribbler, and is one of the fastest players in the world with the ball at his feet.