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Ranking the five best right-backs in the world right now

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The era of the Steady Eddie is dead. Modern full-backs are full throttle, offering flair and invention in addition to the demanding task of shutting down opposition widemen.

Once derided, now decisive. This list of the five finest right-backs in world football right now features cavalier chargers and part-time playmakers, the variety of options making this a thankless task.

Here are the five best right-backs in world football right now.

5. Jeremie Frimpong – Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen are edging closer and closer to shedding that unwanted Neverkusen nickname, with Xabi Alonso’s expansive side opening up a sizeable advantage over Bundesliga behemoth Bayern Munich.

If triumphant, Leverkusen’s first-ever Bundesliga title will have been inspired by one of the most exciting full-back pairings in Europe, with Jeremie Frimpong and Alejandro Grimaldo combining for 46 goals and assists between them in all competitions.

46 Goal Contributions. It’s only March.🤯#Bayer04 #Werkself | @grimaldo35 @JeremieFrimpong pic.twitter.com/1f3bYhrJDY

— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) March 21, 2024

Frimpong has got better and better since arriving from Celtic, often stationed high up the pitch where he is responsible for taking defenders out of the game with high-speed dribbles. That speed helps when recovering defensively, a Get Out of Jail Free card to stop opposition counterattacks.

A big move appears imminent and a reported release clause of £34m will tempt top clubs. Next on his agenda is overhauling Denzel Dumfries to earn a regular role with the Netherlands.

4. Joao Cancelo – Barcelona

Joao Cancelo’s unceremonious exit from Manchester City caught some by surprise, a footballer who had purred in Pep Guardiola’s winning machine moved on.

Barcelona secured Cancelo on a season-long loan deal and the Portugal international has suited the Spaniards down to the ground. Restored to right-back after excelling in an inverted role from the left in the Premier League, he has returned to the sprightly speedster of his initial emergence.

Since the start of the 2020/21 season, João Cancelo is the only defender to be directly involved in 10+ goals in the Champions League:

◉ 5 goals
◉ 9 assists

He loves this competition. 😍#UCL pic.twitter.com/mId8GRqQ6Z

— Squawka (@Squawka) March 12, 2024

Energy and incision in the final third are not in short supply, with Cancelo having recorded four goals and four assists for Barcelona this season. There might be less playmaking inversions into midfield and trademark trivelas, but Cancelo is back as a marauding force down the touchline. Barcelona will be desperate to turn his loan into a permanent deal.

3. Kyle Walker – Manchester City

When you’re appointed captain of the reigning treble winners, it’s an indication of the esteem in which you’re held. Kyle Walker’s importance to Manchester City in recent seasons is not lost on his teammates, with the 33-year-old so often the safety net that allows Pep Guardiola’s side to flood men forward and overwhelm teams up the pitch.

Still so, so fast, his lightning recovery pace bails out the Blues when required, while Walker’s game has evolved under Guardiola’s guidance. In seven decorated seasons at the Etihad we’ve seen Walker operate as the last-man back, an extra option in midfield, or as a touchline-hugging full-back to free room for others in central areas. He’s excelled in each, which tells the tale of his talent,

Crucially, when the big games arrive at the business end of the season, he is the man often tasked with locking down the lead threats to City’s success.

2. Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool

There might come a time when Trent Alexander-Arnold is no longer eligible for this list, such has been his recent midfield metamorphism, but for now, he continues to quite brilliantly blur the lines.

The Liverpool right-back might just be the most naturally gifted full-back the Premier League has seen, a creative force for Jurgen Klopp’s side. His faultless deliveries and expansive passing range are often the hub of his side’s best performances.

What a ball from Trent in the lead-up to our second goal😮‍💨 pic.twitter.com/gk7CcUKFeD

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 4, 2023

At 25, Alexander-Arnold has won the lot, while setting a new record for Premier League assists by a defender. He might not be the greatest one-on-one defender, we all know that, but he can simply do things others cannot.

1. Achraf Hakimi – Paris Saint-Germain

Achraf Hakimi has conquered almost every competition he’s featured in, earning inclusion in Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 best XIs. Three league titles and a Champions League have been collected, alongside being the leading light of Morocco’s 2022 World Cup run, the first-ever African nation to reach the semi-finals.

For the Atlas Lions he takes charge, swinging in set-pieces and marauding into midfield. At club level, he’s a rampaging right-back that provides an attacking outlet for Paris Saint-Germain, linking with and providing service for Kylian Mbappe and company.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME, ACHRAF HAKIMI?! 🇲🇦☄️ pic.twitter.com/wFxDYc5lUj

— Ligue 1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) September 24, 2023

Hakimi needs no invitation to motor forward and boasts all the attributes of the modern full-back. He’s electric over the ground and neat in tight areas of the pitch, a combination of whirling balance, footwork and accurate ammunition.

Read – Ranking the five best left-backs in world football right now

See more – Five of the best international kits released this month

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