In this series we’ve already guided you through the best midfielders world football has to offer. So, naturally, we’re working our way up the pitch towards the players whose job it is to put the round thing in the big gaping net.
This time it’s the right wingers – not those ones – who are earning their moment in the limelight, with players from just two divisions making up 90min‘s top five in the world. A variety of styles feature on the list, but in essence they all do the same things: play on the right, are technically gifted, score goals and assist goals. That’s it in a nutshell.
But the players featured below offer much more than that, hence why ranking them was far from a walk in the park. With an exciting blend of experience and youth, here are the five best right wingers in world football. Right now. On this list. In glorious ranking format.
It’s easy to forget that Riyad Mahrez remains one of the most expensive signings of all time, simply because he isn’t given the regular starts that warrant everyone being reminded of that fact.
However, when he does play for Manchester City, we remember that he really is one of the best around. Well, fifth best, to be precise.
Hitting double figures in each of his last five seasons, that lethal left foot of his can tear opposition sides to shreds at any moment. When he’s on song, that £60m looks like money well spent.
But it’s not just his left wand that dazzles. His extensive repertoire of skills can bamboozle even the most experienced defender, cutting either outside or inside and laying off for a teammate with measured precision. You just wonder what a regular run in the team would produce. We saw it at Leicester, and the end result was award-worthy.
Yet, among the vast array of City riches, Mahrez does still glisten.
This was a tough call to make. Bernardo Silva has the less favourable statistics than Mahrez, but it’s his overall contribution to the Cityzens that gives him the nod.
A regular fixture throughout his three seasons at the Etihad Stadium, the forward has demonstrated his worth to Pep Guardiola in a variety of positions.
While in central midfield he is just as capable, when played in the right wing slot, the balance he offers to the side is vital. He has the breakneck pace over short distances that mean he can glide past defenders almost unknowingly, and the weight of his touch – first, second, third fourth etc. – is so meticulous that he’s a menace to get the ball off.
Above say, Mahrez, for example, Silva offers endless work-rate and intelligence both on and off the ball that contribute to all the fine work City (can) do, hence why his inclusion in fourth spot on this list is justified.
You’d struggle to find a more reliable forward in England.
Who’d have thought, eh? Four years ago and not any one person – Tony Pulis included – could have predicted that Serge Gnabry would explode into the player seen today at Bayern Munich.
‘Explode’ being an apt description. The German is like that one firework at New Year’s Eve that continues to pop off even after you think it’s ran its course. At any given moment he can shoot off to the left, to the right or down the middle, with frightening pace and an air of unpredictability that makes him such a joy to watch.
In a Bayern side littered with goals, Gnabry has become the second most reliable source behind the evergreen Robert Lewandowski.
42 appearances across all competitions this season have produced no less than 20 goals and 13 assists. A ridiculous amount for a player deemed not good enough to play for West Brom.
What’s more, at just 24 years old, the scope for improvement means that Gnabry will be a mainstay in lists such as this one for a healthy length of time.
The future of England is bright. Sure, there is talent emerging across each position and in every age group, but none have caught the eye quite like Jadon Sancho has.
His two full seasons at Borussia Dortmund have been nothing short of scintillating, racking up 72 goal contributions in just 87 outings. This is someone whose first international tournament he remembered was probably Euro 2012. Feel old? You should.
It’s actually hard to see where Sancho can improve from here. He isn’t overly selfish in front of goal (obviously), nor is he afraid to take a shot on (also obviously), while his ability on the ball makes for majestic viewing.
Whether it’s beating his man, finding the pockets of space, linking up with teammates from wide areas or caressing the ball into the far corner, he can do the lot.
He’s been a pleasure to watch for over two years now and when he does eventually move back to the Premier League, you can see him reaching Gareth Bale circa 2012 levels of unplayable… and some.
But for all the excellence of the above quartet, the award on this occasion can be attributed to none other than the ‘Egyptian King’.
We’re now at a point now where 9/10 and 10/10 performances are actually expected from Mohamed Salah, with no player in history managing 100 goal contributions in the Premier League quicker than the 28-year-old.
He has the pace that a roadrunner would be envious of, and a six-pack that could feature on any men’s health magazine. Keeping his body at such peak physical condition only adds to his magnificence, which Liverpool have been the beneficiaries of for three goal-laden seasons now.
One of the only criticisms people make of Salah is that he can be overly selfish. But seriously, can you blame him? When he can find the postage stamp from 30 yards or the bottom corner through the eye of the needle, that argument becomes invalid.
His record-breaking goal tallies haven’t been wasted either. He scored the opener in the Champions League final before lifting the trophy for the first time, and was instrumental in the Reds claiming a maiden Premier League title this season. What more can you say?
World class, and top of his class.
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