The importance of the wing-backs is enormous is the modern game.
Acting as amazing weapons in attack apart from their defensive duties, combining the right amount of attack and defence from the position is a difficult skill to master.
However, this article takes a look at some of the players who are the best in executing this difficult skill, as it rates the 10 best wing-backs in world football today.
For this article, the players from over the past year has been given more weightage, even though their entire career has been taken into consideration.
Alvaro Arbeloa and Marcelo (both Real Madrid), Patrice Evra and Rafael da Silva (both Manchester United), Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Cristian Maggio (Napoli), Lukas Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund), Joao Pereira (Valencia)
10. David Alaba | Bayern Munich
Bayern’s 21-year-old left-back has been in terrific form for the past season, and has affirmed his status as one of the most exciting young players in the world.
Having firmly established himself as the first choice left-back in an all conquering Bayern Munich team, the Austrian possesses a reading of the game that is far beyond his tender years. Equally adept in attacking as well as defending, the youngster is indeed one of the best in his position in the world.
9. Fabio Coentrao | Real Madrid
Fabio Coentrao endured a difficult beginning to his Real Madrid career with fellow left-back Marcelo often being preferred over him. Weighed down by the enormous pressure of his huge price tag, Coentrao was not at his best in the 2011/12 season.
However, he has turned the tables this time around, and was Madrid’s first choice left back for the last season, relegating Marcelo to the bench. His consistent displays down the left for the Spanish giants prove that he indeed one of the best wing-backs in the world right now.
8. Daniel Alves | Barcelona
The most expensive wingback in football history, Alves has been a mainstay in the Barcelona defence ever since he moved to Camp Nou from Sevilla.
A player with electric pace and a huge bag of skills, Daniel Alves is always a persistent attacking threat for the opposition. However, Alves’ over-zealous attacking mentality has often caused his defensive positioning to be suspect, leaving his team vulnerable on the counter – which is why he is placed so low on the list.
7. Stephan Lichtsteiner | Juventus
Swiss right-back Lichtsteiner is probably the most underrated player in the Old Lady’s squad. Despite having to perform the dual roles of wing-back and right-winger in Conte’s preferred 3-5-2 system, Lichtsteiner has excelled.
A good outlet down the right in attack, and an incredibly solid defender, it is primarily due to Lichtsteiner that Juventus’s impressive defensive system has worked. Apart from his amazing work rate, Lichtsteiner has also been a competent crosser of the ball, an attribute which has often seen him being used as an auxiliary midfielder for the Turin based side.
6. Ashley Cole | Chelsea
England’s most capped wing-back of all time finds himself a spot on the list after yet another impressive season with Chelsea, helping them to a Europa league title.
An exceptionally strong defender, Cole has been one of the first names on the team-sheet for Chelsea whenever he has been fit. Cole’s most impressive feature is his reading of the game which has assured that he is almost never caught off guard and has nearly always been in the right place at the right time.
5. Pablo Zabaleta | Manchester City
The Argentine left-back was one of the lesser heralded players in the City squad before this season. However, on the back of his best season ever, Zabaleta has now staked his claim as one of the club’s foremost stars.
City’s vice captain was effective both in his own area as well as the opposition’s, and was the main reason for City’s stellar defensive record this season. For his efforts on the pitch, he was named as Manchester City’s Player of the Season, and also found him a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.
4. Jordi Alba | Barcelona
For a player who was an unheard of left winger at Valencia just 2 years ago, Alba’s rise has been meteoric. Few could have predicted the effect a change in position would have for the pint sized player, who was the most impressive of Barcelona’s defenders this season.
His electric pace and wily trickery has made him an important attacking threat for the Blaugrana, with the defender acquiring a knack of coming up with some crucial goals for the Catalans this season. The defensive aspect of his game was also impressive, with the player impressing many with the stability that he achieved between attack and defence.
3. Leighton Baines | Everton
Even though Ashley Cole has again been in imperious form this season, there have been calls for him to be replaced in the England squad. This is because of the amazing form of Everton left back Leighton Baines who has been simply breathtaking all season.
A player who has achieved the perfect equilibrium between his duties at the front of the pitch as well as those at the back, Baines has been Everton’s best player by far over the past few seasons. His efforts were also rewarded by yet another Player of the Season award from Everton, as well as a spot on the PFA Team of the Year, beating Ashley Cole to the spot.
2. Darijo Srna | Shakhtar Donetsk
A player who often fails to find himself a spot in discussions as to who is the best wingback in the world in Croatia and Shakhtar Donetsk captain Darijo Srna.
Even though he has been one the best in his position for some time now, the fact that he plays for Shakhtar – an impressive team, albeit one not playing in one of the top leagues in Europe, has been the primary reason for this. Another player who has combined attack and defence excellently, Srna has again excelled this season, both domestically and in Europe.
1. Philipp Lahm | Bayern Munich
At the top of the list is Bayern Munich and Germany captain Philipp Lahm, who is by far the best wingback in world football right now. Combining his superb defensive acumen with delightful attacking threat, this season has probably been Lahm’s best yet.
A regular feature in a Bayern Munich side that broke all sorts of defensive records in the Bundesliga last season, Lahm’s influence has been massive. Such has been the sheer genius of his displays that the German media has christened him the ‘Magic Dwarf’. And if any defender is indeed deserving of the title of ‘magician’ it is indeed Lahm.
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