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The top 10 greatest right backs in Premier League

Since the Premier League was launched in 1992, the role of a full-back has changed tremendously. Gone are the days of physical giants knocking attackers down on the flanks and in their place are hybrid all-rounders. Players who are just as comfortable attacking as they are defending. It’s the ultimate test of skill and stamina. Right-backs are increasingly competitive players considering the traditional dominance of right-footed players in the game meaning standout talents need to be at their best to breakthrough into the first team. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look back and see who over the past few decades evolved into the best right-backs in recent memory. So who are the top 10 greatest right-backs in Premier League history?

 

Bacary Sagna

It’s astonishing to think that Bacary Sagna never managed to win the Premier League. Despite over 260 games over a decade in England, the Frenchman never received a winner’s medal. That doesn’t underline how good he was though. Not only was Sagna quick and an excellent passer, he was also extremely strong enabling him to battle with anybody on the pitch. This included winning many one on one duels as well as being a threat in the air. Sagna spent most of his English career with Arsenal after joining from Auxerre in 2007. Whilst with The Gunners, Sagna was twice included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year and also won the FA Cup in 2014. A move to Manchester City in 2014 allowed him more chance to shine at the top level although he didn’t win any more titles before he left to join MLS side Montreal Impact in 2017. A case of what is for this enigmatic star.

 

Paulo Ferreira

One of the lesser stars of the first Mourinho era at Stamford Bridge, Paulo Ferreira went about his business with minimal fuss.  Quick enough to go against the fastest wingers, Ferreira used his guile and excellent tackling to shut down any movements happening on his side of the pitch. Brought to Chelsea when Mourinho took over in 2004, the Portuguese star spent eight seasons in London bringing plenty of success. This included 3 winners’ medals over his stint in English football and maintaining a regular place in a side brimming with talent. An underrated achiever that won more than most of his on-pitch rivals.

 

Branislav Ivanovic

When people look at Branislav Ivanovic, they would look and see a lumbering giant. He was anything but that. More like a surging juggernaut, Ivanovic was able to out-run and outmuscle anyone in a duel. With endless energy, the Serbian superstar was a nightmare for any opposition to contend with. He also had the knack to score crucial goals on a regular basis notching 22 goals whilst at Chelsea. This made the 2x Serbian Player of the Year a bonafide star where he won 3 Premier League titles over the course of his career. By also having 2xPFA Premier League Team of the Year inclusions aswell, Ivanovic was a true all-rounder capable of doing anything.

 

Trent Alexander-Arnold

One of English football brightest talents of the past few years, Trent Alexander-Arnold is a game changer on his finest days. Alongside his blistering pace, Alexander-Arnold can deliver wicked crosses and set pieces that can tear defences to shreds. This excellent technical ability has also allowed him to also score crucial strikes for Liverpool when the moment calls for it. That’s not even forgetting his excellent tackling skills too. Having helped The Reds famously win the 2019-20 Premier League title, Alexander-Arnold has won plenty of accolades. The 2020 Premier League Young Player of the Year has won Premier League Player of the Month twice in his career and been included in three PFA Team of the Year awards. It’s a bright future for a star entering the prime time of his career.

 

Cesar Azpilicueta

There are fewer players that have bled blue quite like Cesar Azpilicueta. Utilized often as both a right back and centre-back, the Spaniard’s all-round game has virtually no weaknesses in it. An excellent tackler with strong aerial skills and a great understanding of the game, Azpilicueta has anchored The Blues for well over a decade since joining from Marseille in 2012. Since then, he has played over 330 games for the club as well as winning 2 Premier League titles during this time. Having proven to be a dedicated servant to the club, the Spaniard will be fondly remembered as one of the club’s finest players’ years down the track.

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Pablo Zabaleta

You could find few players in recent memory that matched the workrate of Pablo Zabaleta. The Argentine right-back never stopped surging up and down the touchline intercepting passes, making crucial tackles and linking up attacking moves. Just as capable of making a deadly cross as a key tackle, Zabaleta was one of the main lynchpins in Manchester City’s rise to dominance. Whilst in Manchester, Zabaleta won two Premier League titles as well as four Player of the Month awards for the club. Even after moving to West Ham in 2017, he continued to show the traits that made him one of the best in his position worldwide. An excellent symbol for hard work and determination.

 

Lauren

Don’t let the name fool you, Lauren was the real business whenever he took to the pitch. Converted to defending after starting as a midfielder, the Cameroon star was excellent in all areas. An underrated passer and excellent tackler who was virtually unflappable, he was a mainstay in the Arsenal squad that dominated in the early 2000s. He won two Premier League titles and was an ever-present member of The Invincibles team of the 2003/04 season. Throw in a Premier League Team of the Year inclusion to the mix as well and you have all the evidence necessary to show why the former Arsenal and Portsmouth star was one of the best defenders of his time.

 

Kyle Walker

No matter where Kyle Walker has played, he has always risen to being a core member of his side. Walker’s pace and tenacity have made him a nightmare for anyone to try and deal with – both in attack and defence. His strength has made him a tough opponent in a straight duel and he also has the ability to whip in deadly crosses at a whim. It was a big factor in helping Spurs become a title-challenging side as well as a reason why Manchester City fought so hard to sign him. With City, Walker has won 4 league titles in his career. Throw in 3 PFA Team of the Year Nominations and its all the 2012 PFA Young Player of the Year needs to showcase his title as one of the best fullbacks in the game today.

 

Lee Dixon

Best known for his never-say-die attitude, Lee Dixon was one of the symbols of the changing role of a full-back. Dixon’s ability to pick out passes and help advance play made him a stalwart for an Arsenal side that turned into title challengers throughout the 1990s and 2000s. He was a constant presence for Arsenal for over 450 games where he won 2 Premier League titles to match the 2 First Division titles he won before the league revamp. It was a showcase to his skillset that he was still able to feature regularly in a title-winning side all the way until he retired in 2002. A true legend of the older game.

 

Gary Neville

The “Class of 92” brought about several generational talents into English football including a bright-eyed defender named Gary Neville. Neville was a fresh of breath air to the full-back role as his pace and skill on the ball matched his awareness and defensive knowhow off it. This vast skillset meant he was one of the ever-present stars at Manchester under the watchful eyes of Sir Alex Ferguson. Over a career spanning 3 decades, Neville was unstoppable where he won an unprecedented 8 Premier League titles. As well as this, the England star won a plethora of individual awards including 5 PFA Team of the Year nominations and selections in the Premier League 10 and 20 Anniversary season squads. All this led to an inclusion in the English Football Hall of Fame in 2015 and the status as the best right back in Premier League history.

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