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Right backs ranked! The 7 best right backs in the world

Updated on 4:23pm GMT 26 July 2021
Right backs ranked! The 7 best right backs in the world

Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.

It wasn’t so long ago that full-backs were overlooked in terms of their importance but that isn’t the case anymore. Indeed, so integral are they to the modern game that England manager Gareth Southgate filled about half of his outfield player slots with full-backs for Euro 2020.

There have been some superstars who have filled the right-back role over the years, with Cafu, Lahm and Neville (Gary, obviously) immediately springing to mind, but who are the best at this moment in time?  

But first, for expert previews on all these stars’ weekly matches, do make sure to check out our match predictions. Right, let’s crack on with the ranking…

7. Joshua Kimmich  (Bayern Munich)

Age: 26

Nation: Germany

Fun Fact: Ok this perhaps isn’t a ‘fun fact’ as such but Joshua Kimmich, alongside Bayern teammate Leon Goretzka, launched an online initiative called “We Kick Corona” to help charitable, social or medical institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Joshua Kimmich began his career as a right-back but was used almost exclusively as a holding midfielder by former boss Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich.

How can a midfielder make the list of world’s best right-backs?  Kimmich is so good in the position, he still operates in the role for Germany and has slipped into the position seamlessly since taking over from the legendary Philip Lahm.

If Kimmich played at right-back for Bayern, he’d be in number one spot here comfortably.

6. Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli)

Age: 27

Nation: Italy

Fun Fact: As a youngster Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s friends nicknamed him ‘Batigol’, after Argentina and Fiorentina legend Gabriel Batistuta, due to his goal-scoring abilities.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s career has taken a while to get going and he didn’t play top level football until the 2018-19 season with Empoli in Serie A. The 27-year-old earned a move to Napoli in the summer of 2019 and has now firmly established himself as one of the best in the business at right-back after starring for Italy at Euro 2020.

Admittedly, he was overshadowed by the performances of Leonardo Spinazzola on the opposite side of defence in the early rounds of the tournament but the Roma man’s injury saw Di Lorenzo take on extra responsibility as the Azzurri took home the trophy.

Di Lorenzo was linked with Manchester United earlier this year, but instead signed a long-term deal with Napoli.

5. Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)

Age: 30

Nation: England

Fun Fact: Kieran Trippier’s older brother is former Oldham defender Kelvin Lomax, who used his mother’s surname in his professional career.

Kieran Trippier seems to have improved with each year and he has just enjoyed his best season domestically after helping Atletico Madrid claim the La Liga crown, his first major piece of senior silverware.

Trippier has a solid defensive game and adds to the attack with pinpoint crosses and marauding runs down the wing, while he is also excellent from dead ball situations.

The 30-year-old could be set to make a return to the Premier League in the not too distant future, with Manchester United linked with the former Burnley and Spurs man at regular intervals.

4. Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich)

Age: 25

Nation: France

Fun Fact: Benjamin Pavard first played with his hometown club in Jeumont, where former France international striker Jean-Pierre Papin also began his road to the top.

Benjamin Pavard established himself on the global stage with an outrageous volley for France against Argentina at the 2018 World Cup – a strike that was voted goal of the tournament.

In January 2019, it was announced he would join Bayern Munich from Stuttgart that summer and the Frenchman is now a Champions League winner and two-time Bundesliga champion.

Pavard’s quality allowed former Bayern boss Hansi Flick to use Joshua Kimmich almost exclusively in midfield, and that alone speaks volumes.

3. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Age: 22

Nation: England

Fun Fact: Trent Alexander-Arnold was eligible to play for the USA before making his England debut through his maternal grandmother.

Trent Alexander-Arnold may not have enjoyed the best of campaigns in 2020-21 but he still had a solid season and his overall quality cannot be ignored.

In the 2019-20 season, the Liverpool-born right-back played a starring role in the Reds’ Premier League title victory after helping them land the Champions League in the previous campaign.

His omission from Southgate’s England squad for three World Cup qualifiers in March was inexplicable but he responded well with some fine performances for Liverpool, particularly against Arsenal.  Alexander-Arnold was nominated for the Ballon d’Or award in 2019 and even after a mixed season no list of best right-backs would be complete without him.

2. Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain)

Age: 22

Nation: Morocco

Fun Fact: Hakimi set a new Bundesliga speed record when he was clocked at 36.48 km/h (22.67 mph) in a match against Union Berlin in February 2020, breaking a record he himself had set three months earlier.

Achraf Hakimi’s rise to the top has been nothing short of meteoric.  The Morocco international joined Real Madrid’s youth set-up at the age of eight and made his Los Blancos debut as a 19-year-old in 2017 but found game-time hard to come by with the likes of Dani Carvajal and Nacho ahead of him in the pecking order.

He joined Borussia Dortmund for a two-year stint on loan ahead of the 2018-19 season and established himself as a regular for BVB, earning a place in the Bundesliga Team of the Year in his second season, and a permanent move to Inter Milan followed. 

In his first, and what turned out to be his only, season for Inter he helped them land the Scudetto, ending Juventus’ nine-year dominance of Serie A, before completing a move to Paris Saint-Germain.  Hakimi is still only 22 but has already proven himself in two of Europe’s top leagues and as such is right up there as one of the best in his position.  

1. Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

Age: 27

Nation: Portugal

Fun Fact: Cancelo announced his engagement to long-term partner Daniela Machado earlier this summer.

Cancelo struggled in his first season with Manchester City and was initially unable to dislodge Kyle Walker on the right side of defence but enjoyed a stellar campaign last time out.

The 28-year-old Portugal international seemed to crop up all over the pitch as City romped to the title and has to be one of the first names on the team sheet for Pep Guardiola.

In 28 Premier League appearances last season, Cancelo helped the champions keep 18 clean sheets and played his part at the other end of the pitch too with two goals, three assists and 14 chances created.

Cancelo’s season ended in disappointment as he was forced to withdraw from Portugal’s Euro 2020 squad after testing positive for coronavirus.  Without him, Portugal were eliminated in the last-16 stage as the defending champions by Belgium. 

Well, there you have it – our complete ranking of the best right-backs in the world right now. If you want more football, make sure to check out our football tips

Also in this series:

Who are the 7 Best Strikers in the World Right Now?

Who are the 7 Best Midfielders in the World Right Now?

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