Jurgen Klopp recently got many people talking when he labelled Trent Alexander-Arnold the best right-back in the world.
The Liverpool boss was questioned about Gareth Southgate’s decision to play the Scouser in midfield for England in a press conference.
He responded by saying: “Why would you make the best right-back in the world a midfielder?”.
Well, we have to say it is a fair assessment. For us, there is nobody better in that position.
We believe that there are no arguments in terms of the attacking side of things. A look at his assist numbers in the last few years settles that debate immediately.
Yes, there are better defenders around. But this whole claim that Trent Alexander-Arnold cannot defend is a myth. How would Liverpool have one of the best defensive records in Europe for the last few years if their regular right-back was completely incompetent?
So, in terms of the full package, Alexander-Arnold truly is the best right-back in the world in our eyes.
However, RTK may be slightly biased.
With this in mind, we have decided to look at three contenders to the throne and compare them to our local lad.
The criteria is somewhat objective. Basically, we are thinking about who we would pick to play a full season if fully fit, with form over the last number of years taken into consideration but ability right now taking precedence.
So, Dani Carvajal and Ricardo Pereira, two top-class players that simply have not played enough recently for us to know what their current level is, are both left out.
We have looked at numbers for the last four seasons (2018/19 to 2021/22), so any stats mentioned will be a per 90 average from this time frame.
3. Kyle Walker
Coming in at number three in our list of Trent Alexander-Arnold contenders is his England teammate Kyle Walker.
Considering the fact that many consider Alexander-Arnold to be the best right-back in the world, it is somewhat baffling that Southgate continues to pick the 31-year-old ahead of him.
The Manchester City man splits opinion with many, but he has been playing at the very top level for over a decade now and will go down as one of the best fullbacks in Premier League history.
He is solid in 1v1’s and a decent attacking outlet, if not always the most accurate or prolific crosser. But it is his recovery pace that sets him apart from most.
With the ball at his feet, he is nowhere near Alexander-Arnold. Six assists in the league and in Europe in the last three and a bit seasons isn’t a patch on the 22-year-old’s 38.
Despite the fact that many consider him to be a better defender than Trent, he has averaged fewer tackles and interceptions per 90 in the last few seasons too, with 2.3 compared to 3.1.
Honestly, aside from recovery pace, Walker doesn’t have anything over Alexander-Arnold.
But he is still a world-class player in his position, as proven by how big a fan that Pep Guardiola is of him.
2. Joao Cancelo
While we rate Walker highly, we still don’t think that he is the best right-back at his club.
That honour goes to Joao Cancelo, who has also featured on the left in recent times.
The Portuguese star is still heavily underrated in our opinion, and has been one of the best fullbacks in the world since his season at Juventus.
No, he has not been able to fully overtake Walker just yet. But that is due to Guardiola’s tactic of holding the Englishman back for defensive duties.
Cancelo is much better going forward and also makes more tackles and interceptions (4.2) than his teammate.
Stylistically, he is similar to Alexander-Arnold in that he can step into central midfield areas and boss the game.
However, the Liverpool man trumps him with goal contributions which takes him clear in our eyes.
1. Achraf Hakimi
The closest contender to Trent Alexander-Arnold as the best right-back in the world is Achraf Hakimi. This is despite the fact that the very casual fans may not have even heard of him due to how little mention he gets in the English media.
Yet anyone who pays any attention will be well aware of his talent.
A good prospect at Real Madrid that burst onto the scene at Borussia Dortmund and became world-class at Inter Milan now finds himself at arguably the most exciting side in the world in PSG.
Two transfers in the last two summers with a total value of £92.7m is the next indication of his quality.
Still not pushed? How about 19 goals and 28 assists in league and European football since 2018/19?
Still just 22-years-old himself, Hakimi is a phenomenal player, and it is only a matter of time before he is a household name.
But is he better than Alexander-Arnold? We don’t think so.
That is because he has done his best work as a wingback, rather than as a traditional right-back. Now, he will have to play in a back four, which is a change from the last three years.
He does have Walker-like recovery pace which will help him, but he will have to adapt his positioning in order to not be found out defensively.
Yes, it is possible that he adjusts perfectly and continues his astonishing output. But it would be in Ligue 1, not the Premier League.
We do believe that he is the second-best right-back in world football. But he isn’t quite No 1.
That honour goes to Liverpool’s No 66.