Who are the best right-backs in the Premier League in 2023?
“No one wants to grow up to be a Gary Neville” A quote made famous by Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football. But is he wrong?
The latest crop of talented full-backs in the Premier League will say that he is. From Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has been an assist machine for Liverpool, to Kyle Walker, who has been impossible to beat one-on-one for Tottenham and now Manchester City, we have seen some of the world’s best strut their stuff in the competition in recent seasons.
More Premier League player rankings:
- The top 10 defensive midfielders in the Premier League
- Best Premier League strikers
- Best Premier League playmakers
But who are the standout right-backs in England’s top flight in 2023? Here are the top five based on their Squawka Score:
5. Kenny Tete
- Team: Fulham
- Minutes played: 2,113
- Squawka Score: 59%
As one of a handful of defenders to make 50+ tackles, win 100+ duels and win possession 100+ times in 2023, Kenny Tete has really impressed defensively so far this calendar year, dealing well with some of the best wingers in the Premier League. The Fulham man ranks in the top 20% per 90 for blocks, clearances, duels won and tackles. He’s been a key factor in Fulham becoming a steady Premier League outfit.
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4. Vladimir Coufal
- Team: West Ham
- Minutes played: 2,351
- Squawka Score: 64%
Strong defensive numbers married with some impressive attacking stats means West Ham’s Czech full-back comes in at number three on our list. He ranks in the 95th percentile above for clearances and in the 80th percentile above for passes into the opposition half, penalty area entries, final third entries, tackles, ball recoveries and aerial duels won. He is just one of four current full-backs in 2023 to make 50+ tackles, win 100+ duels and win possession 100+ times.
3. Pedro Porro
- Team: Tottenham
- Minutes played: 2,121
- Squawka Score: 66%
Pedro Porro has been a huge attacking threat for Tottenham since his move from Sporting CP in January, scoring three goals and providing five assists in 26 Premier League appearances, as well as ranking in the top 20% per 90 for take-ons attempted, chances created, big chances created and open play expected assists. Now playing as an inverted full-back with the freedom to attack at will, expect a lot more from him in Ange Postecoglou’s system that Spurs seem to be excelling in.
2. Kieran Trippier
- Team: Newcastle
- Minutes played: 2,879
- Squawka Score: 69%
Kieran Trippier has been a revelation since joining the Toon Army from Atletico Madrid in 2022, with his incredible set-piece deliveries and free-kick goals making him a valuable asset to Eddie Howe. The ‘Bury Beckham’ ranks in the top 5% per 90 for touches (93.78), final third entries (10.82), penalty area entries (13.91), crosses attempted (5.28), chances created (3.09) and big chances created (0.63) in 2023, as well as the top 20% for blocks and ball recoveries.
This season alone, the Magpies’ skipper has created more chances (33) than any other player in the English top flight so far this season, also leading the way for crosses attempted (67). Only Pedro Neto is ahead of him in terms of assists (6).
Trippier has gained 2% on his Squawka score recently and is quickly catching up to top spot. Teammate Jacob Murphy — who often shares the right flank with Trippier — believes the England international is getting better as he ages.
“A fine wine! One of the best right-backs in the world,” Murphy told Premier League Productions recently.
Manager Eddie Howe is very familiar with Trippier having worked with him previously at Burnley before their Newcastle days. It’ll come as no surprise how highly Howe rates Trippier among the players he’s signed during his managerial career.
“I think he’s one of my best-ever signings,” Howe said following Trippier’s hat-trick of assists in the 8-0 win over Sheffield United. “I’ve signed him twice, and I’m delighted to have been able to sign a player of his quality twice in my career.
“I signed him very early on at Burnley, and straight away his delivery and crossing ability were the best I’d seen, whether from a static ball, a set-play or a moving ball. He sets the tone for us. His mentality is excellent, his desire to win, he never stops. That’s why he leads the team so well.”
There is no question that Man City full-back Kyle Walker is one of the best right-backs in the Premier League. His electric pace combined with his incredible one-on-one defending makes him one of the most difficult full-backs on the planet to beat (just ask Vinicius Jr. after last season’s Champions League tussle). However, his playing style, which sees him rarely involved in City’s attacks, coupled with City’s possession-dominant performances so far in 2023, means his impressive displays don’t necessarily translate to high statistical output. That doesn’t mean he isn’t phenomenal.
Meanwhile, Reece James has struggled with injury problems in 2023, playing just 879 minutes and therefore not meeting our threshold. If he can remain fit, James should thrive in new manager Mauricio Pochettino’s system, in the position that Malo Gusto is currently occupying and flying forward at every opportunity. He will be hoping to get back to the form from the 2021/22 season that saw him score five goals and provide nine assists in 22 Premier League starts.
1. Trent Alexander-Arnold
- Team: Liverpool
- Minutes played: 2,553
- Squawka Score: 71%
Moved into a new role this year by Jurgen Klopp, Trent Alexander-Arnold has excelled so far in 2023, providing the joint-third assists of any Premier League player in this calendar year (10) with only Leandro Trossard (11) and teammate Mohamed Salah (12) ahead of him. The full-back also ranks second to Bruno Fernandes (30) for through balls (27) and is second for big chances created (21) in 2023, rediscovering his form after a short blip.
The 24-year-old also became the first-ever player in Premier League history to set up at least one goal in five consecutive games twice back in April. He now has more Premier League assists than both Eden Hazard and Juan Mata and in fewer appearances.
How did we rank the Premier League’s best right-backs?
We used Twenty3 Sport’s Discovery Tool to run a customised search. The Discovery Tool rates a player’s per 90 output in the following 20 stats to produce a percentage score, referred to above as the Squawka Score.
Each player’s stats are compared to the average output of left-backs across the past three seasons of big-five European league football. To be awarded a score, a player must have reached the automatically calculated minutes threshold. In this case, 900 minutes in the Premier League during 2023. The more they rank in the 95th percentile and above for each metric, the higher the score. We have also weighted each stat from 1 to 5 to highlight the most important aspects of a right-backs’ play style.
To be clear only players that have played 900+ minutes of Premier League football in 2023 have been included.
|Squawka right-back ranking metrics||Weighting|
|Touches | Pass acc. | Blocked shots | Clearances | Challenges lost (-)| Tackle fouls (-)||1|
|Aerial duels won | Touches in opp. box||2|
|Duels won | Take-ons | Crosses | Passes into opp. half attempted | Chances created||3|
|Interceptions | Tackles | Final third entries | Penalty area entries | Big chances created||4|
|Ball recoveries | Open-play expected assists||5|