Premier League’s Best Right Backs: The 10 best defenders in this position

The Premier League is the best league in world football. Not only are some of the top youngsters in the game developed here, but the best of the rest of the world tends to flock to these shores. Each share the one common desire of being able to lift the Premier League trophy, just like Manchester City did recently to complete a historic treble.

Whilst it is generally the forward players that get most of the headlines, there is plentiful space for full backs to make a name for themselves. Coaches’ Voice states that a full back is now ‘responsible for joining attacks and creating chances,’ as well as being able to ‘defend in almost equal measure.’ This is no easy skill and is requires a certain type of player to excel.

Next season, 2023-24, will be the 32nd season of Premier League football. During that time there have been players that have assumed legendary status or quite simply have maximised their ability to the best possible effect.

Here, we will be focusing specifically on the Top 10 Premier League Right Backs across those previous 31 years. Let’s take a look at them now, in no particular order:

Gary Neville

Ask anyone to name the best right back in Premier League history and the name of Gary Neville will inevitably appear. He lives and breaths Manchester United, and was an integral part of helping the Red Devils win eight Premier League titles. Furthermore, on five occasions he earned a place in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.

He would cover every blade of grass down the right side of the pitch. Neville would frequently overlap his right winger team mate and contribute in attacking situations. His crossing ability would often go underrated, but defensively he would rarely come off second best in one-v-one battles and would never shy away from a strong tackle.

Gary Neville
File photo dated 18-01-2003 of Manchester United’s Gary Neville, who won eight Premier League titles and the Champions League twice in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Issue date: Friday August 12, 2022. – Photo by Icon sport

Bacary Sagna

Sagna would make over 200 appearances for Arsenal having made the move from Auxerre in 2017. He turned out to be another gem that Arsene Wenger seemingly plucked from French football. He would move onto Manchester City in 2014, and he further enhanced his reputation of being a solid performer that rarely makes a mistake or disappoints with his contribution.

It is a big surprise that he never managed to lift a Premier League trophy during his time in English football between 2007 and 2017. However, the fact he managed to twice earn a spot in the PFA Team of the Year showed how much he was appreciated despite the lack of a league title. He would be another energetic performer that every manager knew what they were getting.

Kyle Walker

If anybody wants an example of a footballer rising through the game then look no further than Kyle Walker. He has reached the top of the game both domestically and internationally, and even to this day he is a key part of the Manchester City squad that has just won the treble. He recently turned 33, but his pace is showing no signs of declining.

He would impress as a youngster with Sheffield United, earning him a move to Tottenham Hotspur. After installing himself as a player destined for the very top, Man City came calling with a £45million offer, and after joining in 2017 he has been there ever since. Five Premier League titles are part of 14 trophies he has won at the club. He is a very much a club legend.

Branislav Ivanović

After signing for Chelsea in 2008, not many would have predicted the eventual impact the Serbian international would have at Stamford Bridge. Ivanović had limited impact during his first year with the club, but Carlo Ancelotti eventually gave him a chance in the side and he would never really look back.

He was signed more so as a central defender, but the right back position very much became his own over several seasons. A total of three Premier League crowns saw him play an important role in protecting their goal. Although mostly a defensive full back, he would be vital on set pieces and often chipped in with crucial goals.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Whilst there has perhaps been a question mark over him in more recent years, nobody can deny the impact that Trent Alexander-Arnold has had in Premier League football. He proved the perfect full back, with Andrew Robertson down the left side, to fit into the Jurgen Klopp way of playing with Liverpool. To this day, he remains an important piece of the jigsaw.

It would be a big shock if he failed to add to the 2019-20 Premier League medal that he currently possesses. His crossing and passing ability is to an incredibly high standard, and has since slotted into a central midfield role from time-to-time. At 24, it could be argued his best years are still to come, and he’ll likely end his time at Liverpool as a club icon.

Trent Alexander-Arnold
Leicester, England, 15th May 2023. Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool celebrates scoring their third goal during the Premier League match at the King Power Stadium, Leicester. Picture credit should read: Andrew Yates / Sportimage – Photo by Icon sport

César Azpilicueta

Assuming he remains at the club next season, César Azpilicueta is set to participate in his 12th Premier League season with Chelsea. His legacy with the club has already been seeded into history, and considering it is believed Chelsea parted with £7million to sign him from Marseille in 2012, it is one of the best deals in Premier League history in terms of value.

Although he has mostly played at right back, the Spaniard is just as comfortable playing anywhere across the back line. He has won virtually every trophy in the game both here and internationally, including two Premier League titles. His passion and aggressive nature made him a warm fans’ favourite, and it’ll be a sad day when he leaves Stamford Bridge.

César Azpilicueta
Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta applauds fans after the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. Picture date: Sunday May 28, 2023. – Photo by Icon sport


It is hard not to have an Arsenal influence on this list considering their historic unbeaten 2003/04 season which saw them deservedly lift the Premier League crown. Although clearly not one of the big stars such as Thierry Henry and co, Lauren still had his role to play. He won his first Premier League trophy two years previous and he would enjoy seven years with the club.

His ability to read the game and be in the right position meant no opposing left winger had an easy game. The Cameroonian had a fierce and physical side to him, like most at Arsenal at the time, whilst going forward he linked up play nicely, too. Lauren would score the occasional penalty as well, and no player within the ‘Invincibles’ would play down his role in the team.

Kieran Trippier

As time has gone by, Trippier has firmly established himself as one of the best right backs in the game. His experience played a huge part in Newcastle earning a spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League. At 32, he is showing no signs of slowing down. He became established during his time with Burnley, and then went to another level with Tottenham Hotspur.

It feels as though he has been in the Newcastle back for for years, back only joined in January 2022. He is the definition of the modern day full back that is effective at both ends of the pitch. Rarely does he look flustered or stretched defensively, whilst going forward he offers genuine creativity in possession, and is especially dangerous on dead-ball situations.

Pablo Zabaleta

The Argentine was one of the first signings of the Manchester City era under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour, and he went on quite the journey during his time at the Etihad Stadium. He would win six trophies during his time with the club, including two Premier League triumphs. On his departure, Pep Guardiola said he was a ‘legend’ of the club, and who could argue.

Like all from his part of the world, Zabaleta had a physical edge to him game. However, he would very rarely make the wrong decision from a defensive perspective. His positional awareness in and out of possession meant he was a perfect player for the Man City way of playing.

Glen Johnson

In terms of longevity, there isn’t many better than Johnson. He was one of the first full backs of his time that really had a major impact going forward in terms of his dribbling ability. Whenever he got on the ball, his first thought was to drive forward and he excited fans in the process. One Premier League medal doesn’t tell the full story on his career.

It is fair to say he is known more for his offensive play in this position, and it was probably his time at Portsmouth that took him onto another level. This in turn earned him a move to Liverpool and the chance to really prove himself at a big club. He never really commanded a regular spot in his time at Chelsea, despite being their first signing under Roman Abramovich’s ownership.

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