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15 Best Premier League Right-Backs Of All Time 

The right-back position may not be the most glamorous role in soccer, but it is one of the most important, especially in the modern game, where defenders are expected to contribute to the attacking phase of the game.

A quality right-back is not only an excellent defender; they must also be able to cover the entire pitch length and cross for the attackers. 

Depending on the formation, a right-back could either tuck into the defense to add extra security or be expected to overlap the wingers to create an overload that opposing defenders can find difficult to combat. These skills make the modern right-back invaluable.

Let’s look at the 15 best right-backs the Premier League has ever seen. 

15. Steve Finnan 

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  • Clubs: Liverpool, Fulham, Portsmouth
  • Premier League titles: 0

Steve Finnan holds a rather impressive record; he’s the only player to have played in the English Conference League, all four levels of English soccer right up to the Premier League, the UEFA Cup, Champions League, and even the World Cup.

No other player has worked their way up the soccer ladder quite like the Irish right-back. 

The Irishman won an FA Cup and Champions League while playing for Liverpool and was a superb athlete, able to cover the entire pitch, defending resolutely and also contributing with crosses.

Finnan played 495 league games, the majority of them for Fulham and Liverpool, and is considered one of the Republic of Ireland’s best-ever defenders. 

14. Stephen Carr 

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  • Clubs: Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Birmingham City
  • Premier League titles: 0

The Republic of Ireland had a wealth of options at right-back; Stephen Carr was a vital member of the Tottenham Hotspurs and Ireland team thanks to his defensive abilities.

Playing over 200 league games for Spurs, Carr was a more defensive-minded player than Steve Finnan, and unfortunately, due to injuries, missed out on the 2002 World Cup Finals. 

Carr eventually moved to Newcastle United, where he quickly cemented his place in the first team. However, due to his injuries and the quick turnaround of Newcastle managers, Carr eventually fell out of favor.

He was considered an excellent right-back in his prime, offering his team stability and defensive structure.

13. Reece James 

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  • Clubs: Chelsea FC
  • Premier League titles: 0

The youngest player on our list, and one with the potential for future stardom, Reece James is the current Chelsea right-back, a superbly well-rounded player that’s as comfortable in attack as he is in defense.

After being promoted from the Chelsea youth team, James has established himself as one of the most promising players in English soccer. 

A physically powerful and energetic player, James is ideally suited to the modern game as his powerful drives up the right wing allows Chelsea to overload in attacking areas. And as he matures, there’s every chance that Reece James will become one of the best players in world soccer. 

12. Dan Petrescu 

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  • Clubs: Chelsea FC, Southampton FC, Bradford City, Sheffield Wednesday
  • Premier League Titles: 0

Former Romania international Dan Petrescu was a versatile right-back that could also play as a right winger, making him an excellent offensive player for Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea.

Petrescu also played in the Serie A for Foggia and Genoa, winning 95 caps for Romania in two World Cup finals. 

Thanks to being comfortable playing as a more advanced winger, Petrescu was a superb attacking right-back; he would spend much of his career driving forwards and adding numbers to the attack.

Regarded as one of the best Romanian player of all time, Petrescu was a vital player for Chelsea and Romania and won several trophies with Chelsea and Steaua Bucharest. 

11. Lauren 

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  • Clubs: Arsenal FC, Portsmouth
  • Premier League titles: 2

Being a member of the Arsenal team that went an entire Premier League season without defeat, Lauren, the Cameroonian international right-back, was one of the best right-backs the Premier League has ever seen.

For a while, it looked like Lauren wouldn’t be heading to the Premiership; after two excellent seasons with Mallorca, Real Madrid and Roma both looked into buying the Cameroon star, but luckily for Arsenal, the player chose north London instead. 

Over a 15-year career, Lauren was regarded as an excellent defender, though he could also drive forwards with the ball and help in the attack. A strong, athletic player, Lauren had the stamina to see out a game and still be able to cover the right side of the pitch.

A vital member of the 2003-04 “Invincibles” that won the Premier League, Lauren’s place in Arsenal history is secure.

10. Branislav Ivanovic 

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  • Clubs: Chelsea FC, West Bromwich Albion
  • Premier League Titles: 3

Serbian right-back Branislav Ivanovic is rightly regarded as one of Chelsea’s best-ever defenders; over nine seasons with the London club, Ivanovic won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the Europa League, and the Champions League.

Built like a bear, with stamina and strength to spare, Ivanovic took eight months before he made his debut, with Chelsea stating the issue stemmed from the Russian Premier League’s timetable. 

When he finally did begin playing, Ivanovic quickly became a key figure for the club; as well as being a superb defender, the Serb was also a potent goal threat, often popping up with crucial goals for Chelsea.

Thanks to his excellent physique, Ivanovic could run all day and was an attacking threat from the right wing, combining defensive solidarity with a rare attacking flair. 

After leaving Chelsea in 2017, Ivanovic joined Russian giants Zenit Saint Petersburg and became an integral part of the team that won consecutive championships.

The Serbian still had his shooting boots too, and chipped in with 12 additional goals for the club, taking his total league goals tally to 42. 

9. Bacary Sagna 

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  • Clubs: Arsenal FC, Manchester City
  • Premier League Titles: 0

Dubbed “Mr. Reliable” while at Auxerre, it was only a matter of time before a top European club came calling for the excellent French right-back.

It was to Arsenal that Bacary Sagna eventually moved in 2007. Spending seven seasons with the Gunners, Sagna became one of the most dependable right-backs in Premier League history. 

8. Gary Kelly 

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  • Clubs: Leeds United
  • Premier League Titles: 0

A Leeds legend, Gary Kelly spent his entire career playing for the famous Yorkshire club and made the right-back position his own for almost 15 years.

Kelly is the only player to play for Leeds that has made over 500 appearances since Don Revie, the club’s famous former manager, left in 1974. 

A key player of the Republic of Ireland team that played in the 1994 World Cup, Kelly was also recognized for his leadership qualities at Leeds, where he was made club captain at only 23.

Kelly’s loyalty and dedication to Leeds earned him a testimonial at the club, the proceeds of which he donated to Cancer charities. A fantastic servant for over a decade, Kelly will forever be remembered fondly by Leeds fans for his talent and commitment. 

7. Kieran Trippier 

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  • Clubs: Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Burnley FC
  • Premier League Titles: 0

Current Newcastle United right-back Kieran Trippier is a defender with an excellent attacking mindset; the former Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur player may have been incorrectly released as a young player at Manchester City.

The English international would eventually become one of the most consistent right-backs in the country, prompting Atletico Madrid to purchase the player in 2019. 

Trippier became the first English player to play for Atletico in 95 years, so it was a pleasant surprise for the Englishman to win La Liga with the Madrid club in 2021, securing the title on the last day of the season.

After serious investment into Newcastle United by their new owners, Trippier became a marquee signing in January 2022 and immediately impacted the club. 

Signed for his mentality, leadership qualities, and defensive abilities, Trippier makes Newcastle a more solid team and brings a wealth of experience that already shows signs of stabilizing the teammates around him. An excellent signing and a superb right-back. 

6. Cesar Azpilicueta 

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  • Clubs: Chelsea FC
  • Premier League Titles: 2

Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta has grown into a Chelsea legend since joining from Marseille in 2012 and is regarded as one of the best right-backs of all time. Having captained Chelsea to a Europa League title, a Champions League, and the FIFA Club World Cup, Azpilicueta will go down as one of the most successful players in Chelsea history. 

Having won the Premier League twice, Azpilicueta is running out of trophies to win, and the experienced Spanish international is just as important to his club as ever.

Former manager Jose Mourinho once declared that he could win the Champions League every season with a team comprising of 11 Cesar Azpilicueta’s. 

5. Pablo Zabaleta 

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  • Clubs: Manchester City, West Ham United
  • Premier League Titles: 2

A strong, tenacious, determined player, Argentinian right-back Pablo Zabaleta spent nine seasons with Manchester City, helping the blue half of Manchester to their first league title since 1968.

Zabaleta would probably go down in Manchester City folklore for this alone. Due to his incredible commitment to the club and his no-nonsense approach to defending, Zabaleta is one of the best right-backs the Premier League has ever seen.

Bought from Espanyol literally hours before the Abu Dhabi United Group bought out the club, Zabaleta became a part of one of the era’s most expensive and successful teams.

With the new wealth available, Manchester City can buy the very best, and it’s a testament to how good Zabaleta was that he still stood out in a team of superstars. 

4. Lee Dixon 

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  • Clubs: Arsenal FC
  • Premier League Titles: 4

It’s easy to throw the word legend around, but the term is probably deserved when it comes to Arsenal’s Lee Dixon.

In 14 seasons with the London club, Dixon made 458 league appearances, helping the Gunners to four league titles, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and three FA Cup victories. Signed from Stoke in 1988, Dixon became part of one of the meanest back lines in soccer history. 

Alongside Arsenal captain Tony Adams and fellow defenders Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn, and Martin Keown, Dixon and Arsenal became famous for not conceding goals.

The theme of the time was that if Arsenal went 1-0 up, the game was over. Surprisingly, Dixon only managed 22 caps for England but remained one of the very best right-backs the English top flight has ever seen. 

3. Kyle Walker 

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  • Clubs: Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa
  • Premier League Titles: 4

No list of right-backs would be complete without Kyle Walker, one of the finest defenders England has produced for a generation.

A Sheffield United youth academy graduate, Walker, spent years with the Yorkshire club as a youngster but was bought by Tottenham Hotspurs in his first season as a professional. Loaned back to the Blades, Walker quickly established himself as a top-class right-back. 

Several loan spells later, Walker finally made the starting eleven at Tottenham and was regarded as the best right back in the Premier League for the next five seasons.

His displays soon caught the attention of mega-rich Manchester City, and Walker was sold to the Manchester club for £45 million in 2017. 

It was a good move for the Yorkshireman, as in the past five seasons, Walker has lifted four Premier League trophies, four EFL Cups, and the FA Cup.

In club soccer, only the Champions League is eluding Manchester City, for now. Kyle Walker has also represented England at two European Championships and a World Cup finals.

2. Trent Alexander-Arnold 

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  • Clubs: Liverpool FC
  • Premier League Titles: 1

Trent Alexander-Arnold is the youngest player on our list but also the player with the most potential; already a seasoned Premier League and Champions League player, Alexander-Arnold has every chance of becoming the greatest right back in world soccer.

A Liverpool youth academy graduate, the Englishman already has 164 league appearances to his name. 

Alexander-Arnold is blessed with pace, acceleration, and a superb crossing ability; Liverpool relies on their left and right backs stretching defenses by overlapping down each wing, and Alexander-Arnold is one of the best in the business.

A creative and consistent player, the England international is able to deliver superb crosses for teammates to convert. 

At times, Alexander-Arnold has been criticized for his defending, with the player often moving into more advanced positions on the field.

The Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, refutes these accusations, stating that Alexander-Arnold’s stats are as good as any other right back in the Premier League. 

In fairness, both Reece James and Kyle Walker had inferior defensive stats in the 2020-21 season than Alexander-Arnold, who also contributed a great deal more offensively.

Still only 23, Alexander-Arnold could go on to become one of the greatest Liverpool players of all time and has every chance of being the record appearance holder for the club before he retires. 

1. Gary Neville 

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  • Clubs: Manchester United
  • Premier League Titles: 8

Love him or hate him, Gary Neville has to be given credit for being the best Premier League right back of all time. His 19 seasons as the de-facto right back for Manchester United and his superb trophy haul make Neville the benchmark for all other Premier League defenders.

While at his boyhood club, Neville won 20 trophies, including eight Premier League titles and two Champions League medals. 

Whereas many modern right-backs are equally adept at fulfilling an attacking role, Neville made a career out of being one of the best defensive players in European soccer.

That’s not to say Gary Neville couldn’t cross a ball; his partnership with David Beckham while at Manchester United allowed Neville to overlap Beckham and often create goalscoring opportunities for teammates. 

Neville was deployed as a defender, and thanks to his incredible work rate, desire to win, and professionalism, the England international became regarded as one of the best defenders the country has ever produced.

A player who eventually moved into punditry, Neville has an opinion on everything soccer-related, but with a record such as his, it’s hard to criticize; he is comfortably the best right back the Premier League has ever seen.

I listed the best Premier League left-backs of all time in this post.