Welcome to World Class: The Shortlist - Right-Backs

Tom Gott
90min will name the five right-backs who fit into the world class bracket
90min will name the five right-backs who fit into the world class bracket / 90min
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As football has continued to evolve, we've seen the right-back position go from an afterthought to one of the most important roles on the pitch.

In the modern game, a right-back is required to do literally everything. You need to be able to run for 90 minutes, dribble, pass, shoot, tackle, win headers, and above all else, defend.

Put simply, the skill required to be a modern day full-back is unmatched.

Over the next few weeks, 90min will be running a series to find the five world class players in every position in the game today. So far we've looked at goalkeepers, we've looked at centre-backs and today is the turn of right-backs, based on a scoring metric which you can read all about by clicking this link.

What you'll see below though is a shortlist of 10 of the world's best, and why they've been included in the running to be told the words 'Welcome to World Class'.


Trent Alexander-Arnold

Alexander-Arnold has shattered assist records
Alexander-Arnold has shattered assist records / Michael Regan/Getty Images

Club: Liverpool
Country: England

Despite being just 22 years old, Trent Alexander-Arnold is already a Premier League and European champion, and he's earned every bit of that success.

It's no secret that Alexander-Arnold's greatest weapon is his crossing, which has reached the kind of level that we have rarely ever seen from a defender. He's not supposed to be able to do what he does, but the numbers he churned up in the assist column to date show just how good he is.

Alexander-Arnold has already helped Liverpool reach historic heights, setting domestic records in the process, and he's still got his best years ahead of him.


Dani Carvajal

Carvajal remains key to Real
Carvajal remains key to Real / Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Club: Real Madrid
Country: Spain

When you've got four Champions League titles in your trophy cabinet and you've been your side's undisputed starter for all four of those, you command a place in the world-class conversation without much debate.

Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal needed just one year of senior football to prove he deserved a place among football's elite. The Spaniard impressed with Bayer Leverkusen and convinced Real to buy him back after just 12 months, and he's been strutting his stuff at the Santiago Bernabeu ever since.

He's proven to be an indispensable part of Real's side, and you only have to look at their performances without him for evidence of his importance.


Achraf Hakimi

Hakimi is the prototypical wing-back
Hakimi is the prototypical wing-back / DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Club: Inter
Country: Morocco

There were high hopes for Achraf Hakimi when he was coming through the Real Madrid academy, but few expected him to enjoy the kind of meteoric rise that he has over the last few years.

During his two-year loan with Borussia Dortmund, Hakimi established himself as perhaps the game's finest attacking right-back, which his marauding runs and outstanding creativity earning him 12 goals and 17 assists during his time in Germany.

His next move was to head to Inter to join wing-back aficionado Antonio Conte, who knows a good right-back when he sees one.


Hans Hateboer

Hateboer is perfect for Atalanta
Hateboer is perfect for Atalanta / ANP Sport/Getty Images

Club: Atalanta
Country: Netherlands

Dutchman Hans Hateboer and his club, Atalanta, both share the same career path. You never really realised they were getting good, and then all of a sudden, they were one of the best.

After leaving Groningen for a six-figure sum in 2017, Hateboer has helped transform Atalanta into arguably Europe's most entertaining side. His high tempo, goal-focused style of play makes him the perfect fit for Atalanta's system. It's a match made in heaven.

While most of his game revolves around attacking, Hateboer's defending should not be overlooked. He's happy to drop into a back four when needed, but he always find a way to make an impact at the other end of the field.


Jesus Navas

Navas has reinvented his game
Navas has reinvented his game / Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Club: Sevilla
Country: Spain

In 2017, if we tried to tell you that Jesus Navas was both a right-back and world class, we'd be laughed off the face of the earth. And yet here we are, in 2020, and 35-year-old Navas could hardly be more deserving of such titles.

Since leaving Manchester City, Navas has taken a step back from his old winger role and re-invented himself as one of the finest full-backs around, using his undying stamina and dangerous attacking positioning to cause problem after problem for even the world's finest defenders.

Most surprisingly, he's actually proven to be a fantastic defender, and played a pivotal role in Sevilla's road to Europa League glory in 2019/20.


Benjamin Pavard

Pavard has found a new home out wide
Pavard has found a new home out wide / Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Club: Bayern Munich
Country: France

France owes a lot to national team boss Didier Deschamps, but one of his greatest masterstrokes was the decision to play Benjamin Pavard as a right-back.

At the time of his debut in 2017, Pavard was a centre-back with Stuttgart, but Deschamps clearly saw his future out wide. It was a decision which led France to the 2018 World Cup and earned Pavard a move to Bayern Munich, where his stock continues to grow.

As a former centre-back, it comes as no surprise to see Pavard excel on the defensive side of things, but his increased freedom with both France and Bayern has helped unlock the kind of creativity that many thought he didn't possess.


Ricardo Pereira

Pereira has shone in England
Pereira has shone in England / PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

Club: Leicester
Country: Portugal

Ricardo Pereira's greatness has often flown under the radar. Porto needed to loan him out to realise what they were missing, and despite leading his side to a league title in 2017/18, he had just five international appearances to his name when he joined Leicester that summer - three years after first making his debut for Porto.

Strutting his stuff on the Premier League stage has helped Pereira grow his reputation (even though he still continues to be snubbed for Portugal), and now fans are able to appreciate the true beauty of his marauding attacking runs.

Pereira is as close to a guaranteed goal or assist as you're ever likely to find in a right-back, and that's what sets him apart from the rest.


Kieran Trippier

Trippier has elevated his game
Trippier has elevated his game / Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Club: Atletico Madrid
Country: England

Often underappreciated during his time in England, Kieran Trippier has managed to elevate his game to new levels in the last couple of years.

That free kick against Colombia is often jokingly described as the peak of life itself, but for Trippier, it did kick-start a period of much-deserved appreciation for the England international, who earned himself a move to Atletico Madrid one year later.

Atleti boss Diego Simeone knows defending better than most, so to see him put so much faith in Trippier should tell you everything you need to know about his quality.


Kyle Walker

Walker has 2 league titles to his name
Walker has 2 league titles to his name / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

Club: Manchester City
Country: England

Once seen as simply a physical machine, Kyle Walker has worked tirelessly to prove that his tactical awareness is just as impressive as his speed and strength.

It's something which Pep Guardiola recognised back in 2017 when he struck a deal to bring Walker to Manchester City and make him the most expensive English player at the time. It was ridiculed at the time, but the right-back's two Premier League winner's medals are proof that he can mix it with the best.

Walker continues to shine at club level, and nearly ten years after making his international debut, he remains an integral part of the England setup as well.


Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Wan-Bissaka is an elite defender
Wan-Bissaka is an elite defender / Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Club: Manchester United
Country: England

More of a throwback to the right-backs of days gone by, Aaron Wan-Bissaka's elite tackling ability has made him one of the most reliable full-backs around.

Against even the most terrifying wingers, Wan-Bissaka has the confidence to back his one-on-one ability, and most importantly, he has the skill to come out on top - evidenced by some mind-blowing statistics when it comes to tackles won against the game's best dribblers.

At the other end of the field, the Manchester United youngster is continuing to improve, developing a dangerous crossing game that he's got at least another decade left to perfect.


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