The three best right-backs in world football

It’s a gruelling, tiresome position to play, what with the expectations thrust upon you by the manager and fans, but a good right-back is a cornerstone to any success a team may have. Be them marauding or defensively solid; the man on the right side of defence can be vital to zero points and three.

Javier Zanetti – Inter Milan

It’s hard to imagine that the Argentine is 39-years-old, such is his ability to break forward from the back like a player twice his junior. The Inter Milan captain continuously impresses in a back four that is often devoid of experience, unless compatriot Walter Samuel is starting alongside Andrea Ranocchia and Yuto Nagatomo in defence.

Javier Zanetti, following the weekend’s 3-1 win over Chievo, has now made 594 appearances for the Nerazzuri, drawing level with former Inter hero Gianluca Pagliuca and has shown no signs of slowing as he regularly ensures that the starting berth remains his.

Set to turn 40 in August, it remains to be seen whether he’ll continue to ply his trade in Italy or return to his native Argentina, of where he left for Inter for in 1995. However, he has shown once again this season that he is one of the games better right-backs and his versatility and consistency ensures that, should he stay at the San Siro, Zanetti will likely again begin his 19th season in Milan as first choice right-back under Andrea Stamaccioni.

Dani Alves – Barcelona

Whenever Dani Alves starts for Barcelona, it’s effectively possessing a right winger as well as a right-back. The Brazilian is one of, if not the, best player breaking forward from deep, with his marauding capabilities, coupled with his attacking and defensive ability, a potent weapon to possess in the arsenal.

At 29, his best years may be coming to an end sooner that he’d imagine, but Alves still boasts the necessary attributes to ply his trade at arguably the games best team in the world at present. Signing from Sevilla back in 2008, the right-back hasn’t looked back becoming a key member of Pep Guardiola’s starting XI, before Tito Vilanova took over the reins last summer.

Fully deserving of the Cafu comparisons, there are very few a players that can dominate Alves, such is his pace and positional sense, regardless of him turning 30 in a little under three months time.

Pablo Zabaleta – Manchester City

Signed from Espanyol by Mark Hughes back in 2008, the Argentine has emerged as one of the more solid performers in the Manchester City starting XI. Capable of playing at right or left-back, it is the former where Pablo Zabaleta has made a name for himself.

Regardless of the signings of a host of big name stars at the Etihad Stadium, the 28-year-old has regularly held his own against his teammates and, as such, has managed to usurp academy graduate Micah Richards in the first team, albeit, as a result of the England international succumbing to injury.

He continuously impresses in a defence that remains the tightest in the Premier League this year, having conceded just 24 goals in the league. Has recently been captaining City in the enforced absences’ of Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure and is a player that no opposition fans bears a grudge against.