There was a time when proper out and out wing-backs were regarded like fossils and relics of the past.
The traditional, buccaneering wing-back is now very much back in vogue when you consider the success of the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Juventus in the last 12 months or so.
Antonio Conte’s drastic tactical switch from a back four to a 3-4-3 formation proved the managerial masterstroke of last season, with the Blues going onto win their next 13 Premier League games and eventually the title.
The performances and impact of Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso – two previously unheralded names – provided the bedrock to Chelsea’s remarkable campaign.
But which traditional wing-back is currently the best in the world?
Ignoring more recognised full backs like Marcelo and David Alaba, we profiled seven of them but you can vote below who you think takes the biscuit…
BENJAMIN MENDY (Man City)
Mendy’s rise to the top in the last couple of seasons has really turned heads, so much so he convinced Manchester City to make him the most expensive defender in history in the summer.
The charismatic and highly likeable Frenchman has helped City develop closer to Pep Guardiola’s vision this season after making an instant impact.
He suffered knee ligament damage in September which could keep him out until April, delivering a dagger to the heart for Guardiola.
But all things considered given his form for Monaco and in England so far, Mendy has a real case to claim he’s the best in the business right now.
WhoScored rating 2017/18: 7.16
ALEX SANDRO (Juventus)
Juventus have dominated Italian football for the past five seasons, although they might finally have their work cut out to retain the Scudetto in 2017/18.
Both their attacking verve and defensive stability depends heavily on their wing backs in Sandro and Mattia De Sciglio, who replaced PSG-bound Dani Alves in the summer.
Sandro has developed into one of the most consistent players in Italian football and remains Conte’s prime target to bring to Chelsea in the coming year.
The 26-year-old is set to continue a long line of outstanding left-sided Brazilian defenders, following in the footsteps of Marcelo and Roberto Carlos.
WhoScored rating 2017/18: 7.33
RICARDO PEREIRA (Nice)
Back at Porto this season, Pereira really caught the eye whilst on loan at Lucian Favre’s Nice in 2016/17 after some exhilarating Ligue 1 performances.
Porto lent Pereira to Nice for two seasons to ensure more game time and the move was vindicated, helping Nice to a top three finish in France last season.
The Portugal star was a target for Tottenham this summer before they opted to move for Serge Aurier instead, so has returned to Porto’s right-hand side instead.
He is currently battling Southampton’s Cedric Soares in the international stakes but it won’t be long before he’s a regular.
WhoScored rating 2017/18: 7.25
MARCOS ALONSO (Chelsea)
Alonso’s return to England last summer raised more than a few eyebrows given his low key time at Sunderland a few years before.
But the Spaniard has helped transform Chelsea into the beast they are today, becoming one of Conte’s first names on the teamsheet despite the constant rumours about Alex Sandro.
Alonso was brought in from Fiorentina has a reliable figure but has since established himself as one of the Blues’ most potent goal threats.
No defender scored more in the Premier League last season than Alonso’s six, and he got both goals in the 2-1 win at London rivals Tottenham in August.
WhoScored rating 2017/18: 7.43
DANI ALVES (PSG)
Alves makes the cut after his consistent brilliance at right wing-back for Juventus before his move to PSG in the summer.
The Brazilian maestro might be 34 and entering his twilight years but he’s still just as effective as he ever was, scoring in the 3-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week.
It’s testament to Alves’ importance to Barcelona that the Catalans have gone through three players in a bid to find a replacement since he left for Italy in 2016.
He’s not just one of the best of the current generation, but also has to be regarded as one of the finest in his position of all time.
WhoScored rating 2017/18: 7.92
Yet another Brazilian vouching to be the best in the wing-back category, Emerson has really stepped into the fold since Lucas Digne left Roma for Barcelona last summer.
Last season he alternated between left back and left wing-back seamlessly as Roma yet again clinched Champions League qualification.
His progress was horribly disrupted on the final day of last season when he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury which means he’s yet to play at all this campaign.
WhoScored rating 2017/18: N/A
KYLE WALKER (Man City)
Walker has his haters, mainly because he’s English, but there’s no denying the instant impact he’s made since swapping Tottenham for City at the start of the season.
Guardiola wanted Dani Alves but settled for the Spurs man instead and the Brazilian’s rejection looks like a blessing in disguise now.
Walker is perfectly designed to that highly demanding right wing-back role in Guardiola’s setup, proving a constant outlet going forward and keeping the opposition full back constantly pressed back.
The 27-year-old even excelled in a more central role against Chelsea last weekend, showing his positional discipline and awareness.
WhoScored rating 2017/18: 7.23
So who do you think classes as the best wing back on the planet? And have we missed any out? Cast your vote below!
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