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Best right-backs in the world in 2021

Sun 16 January 2022 | 8:30

Who were the top right-backs in 2021 and how much are they worth right now? Which of these incredible footballer had the best year? Read on as we delve deeper into the careers of the best right-backs of 2021 and get to see how they have fared so far in the new season.

With the ever-changing tactics and strategies of football, some roles are bound to change along the way, gaining more importance or being overshadowed by other roles in the process. For the time being, fullbacks have one of the most important roles on the pitch as they run up and down the field to take part in both offense and defense. Playing as a fullback requires energy, strength, versatility, accuracy and most important of them all, pace.

That is why good fullbacks are hard to come by and those who perform better than others are celebrated by everyone around the world. While it is usually the strikers or even midfielders who score most of the goals, the responsibility of delivering the crosses or passes needed for converting into a goal is on the shoulders of fullbacks. With left-backs having their very own list of best performers, we have decided to take a look at some of the

best right-backs in the world in 2021

.

Surely you too are eager to know more about these footballers and their careers throughout the years. Even though not all of those on the list of greatest right-backs in the world in 2021 got to win a major trophy in the year that passed, all of them were phenomenal at their posts as we got enjoy them gracing the pitch on different occasions, leagues and tournaments.

If you too want to find out more about these players and their respective careers, then follow us below as we provide detailed information about their footballing journeys and get to see how they have fared so far in the current season.

Best right-backs in football in 2021

From Manchester City’s iconic right-back duo of Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo, to Real Madrid’s hard-working and versatile man Lucas Vazquez and Bayern Munich’s reliable Benjamin Pavard, there are some big names on the list of best right-backs in the world in 2021 and we have surely enjoyed watching them throughout the whole year. So without further ado, here is everything you need to know about these footballers and their careers so far.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

  • Team: Manchester United

  • Market value: €38M

Many mocked

Manchester United

when they paid a staggering fee of €55 million to sign Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace back in 2019 when the Englishman was merely 20 years old. The critics were quick to judge the Red Devils on the decision that they had made and these critics were right to some extent in the beginning. However, Wan-Bissaka has since managed to prove his doubters wrong with exceptional performances week-in week-out. He rose to global fame after his outstanding performance against Paris Saint-Germain and has been in a fine form ever since.

Having risen up the ranks at

Crystal Palace

’s youth academy, he earned a promotion to the club’s senior side in 2018 and it took him only a year to make his big-money move to Manchester United. But what exactly helped the U21 England international earn a spot amongst the

best right-backs in the world in 2021

? One of the most important reasons behind his success was the fact that he helped his side finish second in the Premier League last season as they came runners-up behind their archrivals Manchester City.

He made a total of 34 league appearances in the 2020-21 season and bagged himself two goals and four assists in the process. Not only did he help in the offense, the talented defender also showed his defensive prowess by cleaning up after his peers and most importantly Harry Maguire throughout the whole season.

Wan-Bissaka might not be one of the paciest right-backs in the world, but he is certainly fast enough to run up and down the pitch at any given time. He has already played in more than 20 games this season and is without a doubt his side’s main defender on the right flank. Of course even though the Englishman was one of the best right-backs in football in 2021, his market value is yet to reach the same amount that United paid to acquire his services back in 2019.

Cesar Azpilicueta

  • Team: Chelsea

  • Market value: €11M

Chelsea

have let go of so many incredible talents throughout the years after not giving them enough chance to prove themselves on the pitch. Mohamed Salah and Kevin de Bruyne are only two of the many great and exciting prospects that were let go of by the London-based club. However, they did stick with Cesar Azpilicueta after signing the inexperienced defender from Olympique

Marseille

for almost €9 million way back in 2012. Azpilicueta began his career as a professional footballer back in 2007 when he earned a promotion to Osasuna’s senior side from the club’s youth academy.

 It took the Spaniard three years to be recognized as an exciting talent, which is when he joined Marseille for €6 million in 2010, just months before Spain’s triumph in the World Cup in Africa. Two years after joining the Ligue 1 side, the Spain international moved to Chelsea and the rest is history. He has won everything there is to win in club competition thanks to his tenure at Chelsea and is still delivering world-class performances at the age of 32.

Azpilicueta was without a doubt one of the

best right-backs in the world in 2021

thanks to his phenomenal performance in both the Premier League and the Champions League, which led his team to winning the latter to the surprise of many. The versatile defender is able to be deployed on either side of the pitch, but is more comfortable playing on the right-flank, where he thrives as a solid defender.

He made a total of 43 appearances in the 2020-21 season and managed to bag himself a goal and a couple of assists in the process. The Spaniard’s defensive prowess was perhaps one of the reasons behind Thomas Tuchel’s success in the UCL as it helped Edouard Mendy keep more clean sheets in the process. As one of the best right-backs of 2021, Azpilicueta is currently the main captain of Chelsea and has already made more than 20 appearances in the 2021-22 season.

Lucas Vazquez

  • Team: Real Madrid

  • Market value: €12M

Do you know any versatile footballer with the ability of being deployed anywhere on the pitch, who is always under the shadow of his world-class teammates but always puts in all his energy into his game? Well, Lucas Vazquez is certainly one of those players. The Spanish winger has always worked hard to earn a spot on

Real Madrid

’s starting-XI and has formed an incredible connection with Karim Benzema throughout the years. Vazquez, just like Dani Carvajal, is a Real Madrid Castilla product and has been a loyal part of his side for more than a decade.

Even though he was let go of in 2104 as he joined Espanyol for half a million Euros, Vazquez returned to Real Madrid only a season later as Los Blancos did not want to lose one of their most promising youngsters. Even though Vazquez is mainly a right-winger, his immense versatility has enabled him to be deployed as a right-back as well, a position in which he has thrived so far.

With Dani Carvajal’s injury woes throughout the year, the Spain international took on his responsibility as he made 24 appearances in La Liga in the 2020-21 season and even managed to score two goals while providing six assists in the process. The Spaniard earned a place amongst the

best right-backs of 2021

after his impressive performance in both the league and other competitions as well.

He has already made more than 15 appearances for Los Blancos in the new season, half of which was played in the last year. We have already passed the halfway mark in the league and teams have shaped up pretty well so far, and we can assure you that Vazquez has been on par with prime Carvajal ever since joining the club’s senior side in 2015. Of course with his teammate’s return to the squad, the competition for a spot amongst the starting-XI has become more intense for the two right-backs.

Juan Cuadrado

  • Team: Juventus

  • Market value: €10M

Lucas Vazquez is not the only one on the list of

best right-backs in football in 2021

who can be deployed as either a fullback or a winger. Juan Cuadrado is even more adept in being a versatile footballer thanks to his incredible pace and dribbling ability. Cuadrado is actually one of the many players that Chelsea shunned away throughout the years.

He joined the blues of London from

Fiorentina

for a whopping €31 million back in 2015, but failed to earn a starting position in the main squad, which is why he was loaned out to Juventus on several occasions as Chelsea did not feel the need to make use of their signing at any time. That is why the Colombia international finally decided that it was time he moved on from the club as he made his move to Juventus permanent in 2017 by joining the Italian side for €20 million.

Ever since joining the Bianconeri on a permanent transfer deal, Juan Cuadrado has been an integral part of the club’s plans every season and has proven his worth by putting in all his effort week-in week-out. The former Chelsea man defines the meaning of versatility as he is able to play in almost any position on the pitch. As one of the top right-backs in 2021, Cuadrado appeared in a total of 40 games last season and somehow got to provide a phenomenal 19 assists while scoring a couple of goals as well in the process.

Had a right-back in the Premier League achieved such a feat while their team was struggling, they would have been on the cover of almost any newsletter as everyone would have praised them for their extraordinary performance. Even though the former Chelsea man is not appreciated enough by many in the world, he is considered to be one of the best right-backs in the world in 2021 by many other, who recognize the talent and hard work that is required to be a top fullback for several years. 

Benjamin Pavard

  • Team: Bayern Munich

  • Market value: €30M

Next on the list of best right-backs in the world in 2021 is Benjamin Pavard, who first gained prominence as a world-class defender by ironically scoring the best goal of the tournament in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Pavard helped France win the World Cup in the same year and later secured himself a move to Bayern Munich from

VfB Stuttgart

for a massive fee of €35 million a year later. He joined the Bavarians with a lot of promise and actually managed to deliver on his promises by proving his worth week-in week-out.

The 25-year-old can also be deployed as a center-back, which is all that Bayern Munich need right now as they still lack the defensive squad depth that they need as a world-class football club. Even though the France international has not made as many appearances this season as he may have wanted, he did get to play in 24 league games last season, while also appearing in several other competitions as well.

As one of the

top right-backs in 2021

, Pavard made a total of 36 appearances for the Bavarians across all competitions last season and has already appeared in more than 15 games in the current campaign. His defensive prowess helped Hansi Flick during his tenure as the club’s manager, which is why Julian Nagelsmann is also trusting the Frenchman to deliver great performances in a rotation-based system, which sees Pavard appear amongst the starting-XI from time to time.

Having been sidelined due to injury and fitness issues early on in the 2021-22 season, we will have to wait and see if the former Stuttgart defender can turn the tides in his favor once again by retaining his place as the club’s main right-back.

Reece James

  • Team: Chelsea

  • Market value: €55M

It seems that England have an abundance of young world-class fullbacks and it is already causing Gareth Southgate headaches when he wants to decide on whom to call-up for international duty. While Aaron Wan-Bissaka is killing it with his incredible form at Manchester United, his compatriot Reece James has already attracted more global attention for his impressive form at Chelsea. Even though James has to share the spotlight with his captain Cesar Azpilicueta, he is more than happy for the time he is getting with the Blues.

The 22-year-old was without a doubt one of the greatest right-backs in the world in 2021 as he helped his side win the Champions League in an all-English final against Pep Guardiola’s star-studded Manchester City. While Thomas Tuchel’s arrival as Chelsea’s new manager did do wonders for the club in the previous campaign, none of the success that they achieved would have been possible if it were not for the great form that their players were in. The England international is actually a Chelsea youth academy product and has been at the club since his childhood.

He appeared in a total of 47 games for the Blues in the 2020-21 season and managed to provide five assists while scoring a single goal in the process. While his overall stats in the frontlines is nowhere near what the likes of Juan Cuadrado achieved in the previous campaign, James managed to solidify Chelsea’s backline with his defensive prowess, which helped Edouard Mendy and at times Kepa Arrizabalaga keep more clean sheets in the process.

As one of the best right-backs in the world in 2021, Reece James upped his game to a whole new level in the second half of last year as he managed to score five goals while providing 6 assists in his first 20 appearances of the 2021-22 season.

Achraf Hakimi

  • Team: Paris Saint-Germain

  • Market value: €70

Achraf Hakimi became one of the most expensive right-backs in the world behind Joao Cancelo by joining

Paris Saint-Germain

from

Inter

for a massive fee of €60 million in the summer of 2021. Few players could even dream of playing for not one, not two, but several world-class clubs throughout their careers. Hakimi is certainly one of those few players as he has already played for numerous top clubs in Europe such as Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter and now PSG.

It is sometimes difficult to grasp that the Morocco international is only 23 years old and is already considered to be one of the best fullbacks of his generation. The Madrid-born Moroccan has won it all throughout the years, including the Serie A title and the Champions League, which he won with Inter and Real Madrid respectively. Hakimi was undoubtedly one of the

greatest right-backs in the world in 2021

thanks to the phenomenal season that he’d had with Inter. He managed to score 7 goals while providing 11 assists in the 45 appearances that he made for the Nerazzurri.

His contributions to the Italian team led them to finally ending

Juventus

’ reign over the league title by winning the Scudetto after more than nine years. As one of the most expensive signings in PSG history, Hakimi has already made more than 20 appearances across all competitions for the Parisians and has managed to score three goals while providing three assists in the process as well. How far can the former Inter star go in the coming years? Where will his career end up taking him? We can only wait and see how things pan out for the 23-year-old right-back.

Kyle Walker

  • Team: Manchester City

  • Market value: €25M

Pep Guardiola and his

Manchester City

team are blessed to have two of the best right-backs in the world in 2021 at their disposal. The Spanish genius has found a way to make use of both of his world-class fullbacks and his rotation-based system seems to be working quite fine. The Citizens are currently sitting at the top of the league table and are on their way towards winning yet another Premier League trophy at the end of the season.

All of this is partly thanks to their two incredible right-backs, both of whom have been brilliant throughout the years. Kyle Walker is one of the two impressive fullbacks and he has been truly sensational since joining Manchester City from Tottenham for a staggering fee of €52 million in the summer of 2017.

He certainly was one of the best right-backs in the world in 2021 thanks to his outstanding performances across all competitions. He played in 24 games in the 2020-21 season and helped his side win the league title ahead of their city rivals Manchester United. Now, he has already made more than 15 appearances for the Sky-Blues in the 2021-22 season and is well on his way towards adding to his trophy cabinet in the coming months.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

  • Team: Liverpool

  • Market value: €80M

Achraf Hakimi is not the only young right-back with immense potential and a world-class status at a young age. Trent Alexander-Arnold is right there beside the Moroccan and even gets more publicity thanks to the fact that he plays in the Premier League. The Liverpool defender was the man behind the iconic commentary of “corner taken quickly, Origiiiii…” as he was the one who used his brilliance and fast-thinking to send the ball in with lightning-fast speed to surprise Barcelona’s squad and put his team in front on aggregate.

Despite his injury woes in the current season, Arnold has been a sensational right-back for Jurgen Klopp as he has already accumulated 12 assists and a couple of goals in 21 appearances this season. There is no need for us to prove that he was indeed one of the best right-backs in the world in 2021 as his eye-watering €80 million market value would certainly suffice.  

Joao Cancelo

  • Team: Manchester City

  • Market value: €60M

27-year-old Joao Cancelo was so good of a right-back that he convinced Manchester City to splash €65 million to sign him from Juventus, only a season after having joined the Serie A side from Valencia for €40 million. The Portugal international was by far one of the best right-backs in the world in 2021 as he managed to live up to the billing and prove to everyone why he is the most expensive right-back in the world right now.

The immensely versatile defender has already made more than 20 appearances for Manchester City this season and has been on fire with three goals and seven assists in the process of those appearances. We will have to wait and see where his stats cap this season as nothing seems to be stopping the former Juventus man from achieving higher feats in the coming months.

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