We count down on the list of ten best right-backs football players in the world
#10. Ricardo Pereira (Porto)
Pereira was nothing more than a rotation player for Porto until his two-year loan to Nice in 2015, a shrewd move that has proven to be the making of him. While he started off further up the right flank, Pereira was converted into a full-back by the French side.
Pereira may appear to be a jack of all trades at first glance, but while he was shifted around in France, the 24-year-old has claimed the right-back spot for his own at Porto this season.
His seamless integration into the side has coincided with his growth into an attacking full-back with an eye for a pass and strong dribbling abilities. If he can maintain this run of form, it’s certain that bigger clubs in Europe will be after the 24-year-old’s signature. Tottenham and Liverpool have both been linked in the last year.
#9. Thomas Meunier (PSG)
The Belgian has been the quiet, understated deputy PSG since 2016/17, first to Serge Aurier and now Dani Alves this season. But it’s not that the French side don’t trust Meunier; in reality, his style complements the attacking nature of his two positional rivals. He has grown in prominence at the Parc des Princes this season – Alves is now 34 and can’t play every game – and quietly impressed behind his more illustrious colleagues.
Meunier is more controlled and defensive as a full-back, and in some ways that balance helps his manager Unai Emery rotate as per the requirements of the match.
It’s a matter of patience for Meunier right now, although it wouldn’t be too surprising if his head was turned by other clubs willing to give him guaranteed first-team football. He certainly has it in him to start at a big club.
#8. Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid)
Vrsaljko’s dominant showings for Sassuolo in 2015/16 prompted Diego Simeone to earmark him as the long-term replacement for ageing veteran Juanfran at Atletico Madrid.
It was a sound decision, even if the Croatian had to spend the majority of his debut campaign shadowing his older rival. This season has been frustrating with injuries, but he has returned quite brilliantly with three assists in his last four league matches.
Vrsaljko will aim to build on his current form in 2018, and looks set to take the baton from Juanfran permanently in the not-too-distant future.
#7. Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus)
Many expected the Juventus veteran to be left behind after Dani Alves’s arrival in 2016. But the Swiss managed to outlast him and play more league matches in 2016/17, even if the majority of Champions League minutes were hogged by the Brazilian.
Lichtsteiner was once again expected to exit this summer, but he’s stayed and racked up game time even after the disappointment of a curious Champions League squad omission.
He may finally leave in the summer, but to be starting regularly for Italy’s biggest club at the age of 33 is testament to his experience and quality. Lichtsteiner is no superstar, but he’s a hard worker who is expected to be rewarded with inclusion in Juve’s Champions League squad for the knockout stage.
#6. Djibril Sidibe (Monaco)
Monaco’s Ligue 1 victory was built on the contributions of more than just their star attackers. While many have now left for new pastures, Sidibe is one of the title winners who remains at the club.
That’s not due to a lack of suitors, but more Monaco’s insistence not to sell too many starters in the same window. Sidibe, signed from Lille in July 2016, was a dependable presence on the right flank who provided a modicum of stability that allowed his opposite full-back, Benjamin Mendy, to rampage upfield.
Monaco haven’t hit the same heights this season, but Sidibe continues to impress – and in a World Cup season, continued game will likely him earn a spot in the France squad. That would vindicate his staying at the club, as well as reward him for his steady rise to the top.
#5. Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
There was plenty of discussion last summer about the world’s most expensive right-back. But Pep Guardiola knew he had to improve his side in the position, and there was no better option than Walker.
Having impressed at Tottenham as a wing-back the previous season, the Sheffield native has slotted perfectly into City’s squad. As part of arguably the best side on the continent, he has contributed towards breaking down stubborn opposition defenses with his speed, strength and overlapping runs.
City’s dominance of possession makes Walker a vital component of Guardiola’s sky blue juggernaut, and he looks set to achieve his desire of winning the Premier League.
#4. Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
Once a right winger, Valencia has been gradually pushed further back as his years have advanced. But while he was once defensively shaky and lacked a consistent end product, time and experience have transformed him into a strong, quick full-back with command of his flank.
It’s no surprise that Valencia now has his position on lock – a testament to his persistence and determination. For now, the Ecuadorian – United’s player of the season in 2016/17 – is allowing Jose Mourinho to worry about other positions. His positional change has also helped him extend his career at the top level, and while at 32 he is hardly a long-term option, he remains one of the best in the world at present. A remarkable turnaround.
#3. Dani Alves (PSG)
After leaving Barcelona as a treble winner, Alves made a move to Turin which didn’t turn out the way he’d imagined. He called that decision a mistake despite the trophies he’d won, and was on the move again last summer, rejecting Manchester City to join PSG.
In linking up with many of the club’s South American stars, including Neymar, Alves has reaffirmed himself as one of the world’s top right-backs. PSG are dominating the domestic league, but his value is perhaps evidenced better by his ever-presence in the Champions League.
His litmus test will come in the competition’s latter stages, but the 34-year-old doubtlessly remains a force to be reckoned with.
#2. Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
Carvajal may just be the best natural right-back in the world right now. He has battled with pretenders to his throne at Madrid, such as Alvaro Arbeloa and Danilo, and come out the victor each time. Carvajal is a well-balanced full-back who can both defend and link up with his team-mates further forward.
Zinedine Zidane’s trust in the inexperienced Achraf Hakimi to back up Carvajal this season was evidence of his faith in the latter: the Frenchman knew that position in his side is secure. A viral infection may have derailed Carvajal this term, but that shouldn’t detract from his achievements.
Real Madrid’s focus on attacking superstars means Carvajal goes relatively under the radar, but there’s no doubt that he is now one of the best at what he does. Madrid have their right-back situation sorted for the next decade – and with Carvajal only 25, the best is yet to come.
#1. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
Kimmich is Bayern’s wunderkind. Many wondered how they would replace the great Philipp Lahm, but Kimmich is an incredibly close match for a player of just 22.
Both players are extremely versatile. In addition to right-back, Kimmich has also played at centre-back, defensive midfield and central midfield. What’s so impressive is his adaptability to each position: he’s brilliant wherever he ends up. That stems from his tactical intelligence, which is one of his strongest assets. Unlike Lahm, a defender by trade, Kimmich has been converted from a position further forward so retains an attacking mindset.
He may not be as technical, but he is both a midfielder and an attacker rolled into a right-back – and that sort of multifaceted skill set has made him one of the best in the world. In a possession-driven system, Kimmich is superb. The pain of losing Lahm has quickly faded.