Part III of our best soccer players by position rankings, this time giving you the best full/wing back in the world today.
Number 5 – Philipp Lahm, Bayern Munich & Germany
The right footed left back has been playing on his “wrong” side nearly his entire career, but that hasn’t stopped him from being considered among the world’s best at his position in the last 3-4 years. Lahm had a fantastic start to his Bundesliga career as loanee at Stuttgart after being switched from right back to left by then head coach Felix Magath, a position he’s stayed in since. His ability to cut from the flank to the middle of the field and threaten with crosses or shots (like his famous goal against Costa Rica) is what keeps him on the left despite his own preference to play on the right. Lahm has been linked with Barcelona quite often in the last couple of years, despite his contract which runs till 2012. Despite his recent run-in with the front office over an unauthorized interview it’s very unlikely they’ll be anything but reluctant to let him go.
Number 4 – Maicon, Inter Milan & Brazil
Not exactly the most defensive minded right back you’ll find, but he’s so good when he comes up (which is about every opportunity) we had to give him a place in the top 5. Maicon, despite being a right back, is usually one of the top 3-4 offensive threats on his side, whether it be for club or country. His fantastic long range shooting, his powerful strides on the flank which often result in him creating a chance by shooting or crossing (has at least 5 assists a season since coming to Inter) makes him one of the best attacking defenders in the game.
Number 3 – Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid & Spain
No longer the confused boy who got schooled by Ronaldinho in that classic 3-0 Barcelona win against Real, Sergio Ramos today is one of the best defenders in the world, doesn’t matter on what flank you place him. He started his Real Madrid career as a centre back, but he didn’t excel at the position and after bringing Metzelder in 2007 Ramos finally found himself where he felt most comfortable, at right back. He can be switched from right to left (where has played mostly this season) but he’s fantastic either way, defending and attacking (19 league goals from Real since his arrival). His only vice is his tendency to find himself being sent off a few times each season.
Number 2 – Ashley Cole, Chelsea & England
Still no league title for Ashely Cole since arriving at Chelsea from Arsenal. Maybe it’s karma or voodoo? Maybe 2009-2010 will be the year Cole finally gets his first Premiership title since leaving Arsenal on very bad terms in 2006, and will probably always be regarded a a money grabbing bandit, after he referred to Arsenal’s 55,000 a week offer at the time as “insulting”. Money grabber or not, he’s one of the best at his position, the best as far as we’re concerned, despite the likes of Patrice Evra and Philipp Lahm breathing down his neck. A fantastic defender who can deal with anyone on his side due to his speed strength and is very dangerous when he decides to join the attack on the flank. In June he’ll be playing in his third World Cup for England and will be one of the key players in Capello’s attempt to bring the trophy back to London for the first time since 1966.
Number 1 – Dani Alves, Barcelona & Brazil
Although fighting with Maicon for the right back position on Brazil’s starting lineup doesn’t always find Dani Alves starting, there’s no doubt in our minds who is the best full back in the world. Amazingly fast, brilliant technique and a fantastic shot from long range and free kicks, Alves and Messi make up what is probably the best right side in the history of football. Yes, he does tend to neglect his defenseive assignments at times, but there are guys to cover for him, and it’s in the teams best interest Alves just keeps attacking. There’s no better defender at that and few wingers who best him when attacking from the flank.