One of the most evolving positions on the football field is the full-back position; thanks to modern football and coaching tactics, it is sometimes difficult to identify full-backs in their positions.
More often than not these days, full-backs now play further upfront, like in the midfield and attack. The days of Gary Neville, Paolo Maldini, Javier Zanetti, Roberto Carlos, and more are long gone.
However, the current crop of full-backs can even play as a winger or an attacking midfielder and are often seen going up and down the wings, attacking and defending at the same time.
It is currently regarded as the hardest position to play as a footballer. Today, you will find out the top 10 best full-backs in football in 2023.
1. Achraf Hakimi
At just age 24, Achraf Hakimi has become an elite full-back in almost everything you need for someone who plays in that position.
He’s got big-game experience. He has played for a some of the best football clubs in Europe, having played for Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and now PSG.
He has won every trophy possible in club football and recently helped Morocco to the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup.
Hakimi is also known to be versatile and not just in defense alone but can also play on the wing and in the midfield. He is very dependable when it comes to set pieces, and not many full-backs ahead of him in the game.
2. Trent Alexander-Arnold
In the next couple of seasons, Trent Alexander-Arnold may not be considered a full back anymore because both Jurgen Klopp and England manager Gareth Southgate adopted the Liverpool player in a more forward position like the midfield, and since the experiment started in the 2022/2023 season, he hasn’t put a foot wrong.
Arnold is very good when it comes to crosses, set-pieces, corner kicks, and free kicks, passing game.
Although, some might argue that he doesn’t possess strong defensive qualities as a full-back. Nevertheless, the Englishman still does a decent job in defence, while being remarkable in attack, making home one of the best full-backs currently in world football.
He is regarded as one of the top attacking full-backs in football at the moment. He is known for his crossing, dead ball specialty, work rate, range of passing, and providing assists.
In the 2021/22 Premier League season, Trent provided 12 assists from his full-back position.
3. Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies packs the speed and the energy to play the left-back position and the wing-back role. The Canadian is barely 23, but he has already contributed to Bayern Munich’s dominance as a forward.
He was highly instrumental as the Canadian national team played at the 2022 World Cup for the first time in a long time. Alphonso Davies is not restricted to the left-back position, as he also bumps forward a couple of times.
His strength and agility also come into play, and when you add it to his speed, it becomes one of the most difficult defenders to get past and beat.
4. Kyle Walker
At the age of 33, Manchester City and Guardiola found it difficult to let England defender Kyle Walker exit the club.
Perhaps it was because they found out that it would be a grave mistake, and just like they admitted last week, replacing Kyle Walker would have been difficult to replace.
For the last 6 years, Kyle Walker has been England Manchester City’s first-choice right-back, and he even had to push world-class Joao Cancelo to the left-back and subsequently out of the team.
Not many players can manage to match Kylian Mbappe’s pace for pace, and not many full-backs in the league possess the pace that Kyle Walker has.
And lately, due to his age, he has been more content with sitting back and defending than attacking.
5. João Cancelo
Versatile, hardworking, technical, fast, and skillful. Those are the words used to describe former Manchester City full-back João Cancelo.
Ironically, João Cancelo became unwanted at Manchester City last season, but even with that, he has been able to only play at some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Bayern Munich, where he spent the second half.
This season, he is currently on loan at Barcelona. Joao Cancelo is not one of the easiest defenders to beat, as his tackling ability is top-notch, and the fact that he plays both sides of the defense efficiently is a jaw-dropper.
He also loves to attack and often supports the winger in his lane; when he’s not doing that, he’s crossing the ball and causing problems for the opposition’s defense.
The Portuguese defender has always been considered to be one of the best full-backs in Europe, and best right-backs in the world.
As a traditional full-back, Cancelo is able to time his forward runs well. However, his tactical sense, positioning, and defensive skill make him impressive while defending.
What makes the 28-year-old stand out is his ability to use his right and left foot well, which also allows him to play in both full-back positions.
6. Kieran Trippier
You need speed to play this role, but speed is not everything Kieran Trippier has got. The full-back even got better after playing under Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.
He is one of the best full-backs England have and has improved from just defending to being a good passer of the ball and a beast at set pieces, corner kicks, and free kicks.
He was the nexus in Newcastle’s resurgence last season as they made the UEFA Champions League places in the Premier League.
Trippier’s defensive qualities are often underrated, but also puts in a good shift defensively. He is adept in making crucial blocks, tackles, and winning back possession.
He is arguably one of the best defenders in football at the moment.
7. Denzel Dumfries
Perhaps Denzel Dumfries is one of the few players who are built to play as wing-backs originally instead of full-backs.
The player himself reckons that defending is the major priority of a wing-back or a full-back, but he doesn’t shy away from taking quick bursts of pace to get into the opposition box.
The 27-year-old plays for Inter Milan and is experienced in the line of duty in, so much so that he immediately registered himself as a first-choice for the Italian side after joining from PSV.
Since joining Inter Milan, Dumfries has been considered one of the best left wing-backs in world football.
The Dutch defender has excelled in the role brilliantly over the years.
He is very good in defense and equally capable in attack and so important to how Inter plays.
8. Theo Hernández
Theo Hernandez plays as a left-back for Serie A club AC Milan and the French national team, and he is known for his speed, dribbles, and goalscoring ability; he is regarded as one of the best full-backs in the world.
Having a player with the vision of Theo Hernandez helps a modern football manager as the player himself did reveal that he sees himself more as a playmaker in line with how more attack-minded the full-backs are expected to play.
In the 2021/22 season, Theo Hernandez dribbled from his own half to score a wonder goal that was named the best Serie A goal that year.
Therefore, It is not surprising that Theo has always been in the opposition box until now, but this does not leave a gap in his defensive duties.
9. Pervis Estupiñán
Pervis Estupinan is one big move to a big club away from being regarded as world-class. The Ecuadorian defender loves to run the length of the pitch.
At Villarreal in the Spanish La Liga at some point, he was the creator of their attacking moves for 40% of the time, a season before moving to Brighton in the Premier League.
The 25-year-old fitted straight into the ball-playing Brighton team and played over 30 times in the first season for them.
He is an energetic and hardworking full-back who, more often not, can be found in the opposition’s half helping out his team in building an attack. He is one of the best crossers in the Premier League and contributes defensively too.
10. Giovanni Di Lorenzo
You might be forgiven if you think that this name is that of an attacking player.
However, Giovanni di Lorenzo is a full-back for Napoli and was one of the leaders from the back for the Partenopei who dismantled every opposition in front of them last season.
Di Lorenzo is a very versatile player; he is also capable of playing as a center-back, an attack-minded wing-back, or a right winger due to his offensive qualities.