The role of wingers in football has changed drastically over the past 20 years. Gone are the days when all a wide man had to do is to hug the byline and whip crosses into the box.
Wingers these days have to be capable of intricate build-up play, be adept at playing in multiple positions across the attacking line, and score goals.
There’s an upward trend in teams going after skilful wingers and they are ready to pay top dollar for them, especially for the ones playing on the right side. It’s like everyone is out there looking for the next Robben, Bale or Di Maria and it’s easy to see why.
Modern football has evolved into such a competitive entity that clubs feel the need for a game-changing right-winger in their ranks.
In recent years, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal have all paid eye-watering sums of money for a right-winger with the latest example being Jadon Sancho to United for £72 million.
It’s easy to see why the position has become one of the most important in modern football and every time a talented player comes onto the scene, many clubs are in a rush to secure his signature.
Let’s look at some of the most exciting seasoned players and youngsters who ply their tread out on the right flank.
Liverpool’s talisman is one of the best players in the world on form right now, if not the best. The Egyptian, who has lit up the Premier League and Champions League alike since he arrived from Roma in 2017, already has over 100 goals for the Merseyside club.
Following a stellar season at the Stadio Olimpico, several clubs were keeping tabs on him but Liverpool managed to get his signing over the line and since then, Salah has been part of a deadly front 3 alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Fiminho that have helped Jurgen Klopp’s team become the European and English champions.
There are very few players in world football that have been better than Salah over the past 4 years and he is showing no signs of slowing down. There’s an ongoing contract situation and in case he doesn’t put pen to paper on a new contract, there’s a line of clubs who’d take him in a heartbeat.
Salah’s goal with Peter Drury’s commentary 😍😍 pic.twitter.com/xu3zVx9Asf— Judi Mania 🇵🇸 (@JudiMania7) October 3, 2021
The Algerian in his youth was at the French club Le Havre, whose academy is known for producing talented young players.
Arriving in the Premier League in 2014, the world took notice of Mahrez when he starred in Leicester City’s astonishing title triumph in 2015-16.
He embodied the spirit of his club that season – going all out against the odds yet coming out victorious.
Due to his slender build, there were doubts about Mahrez being successful in the English game but they’ve all but evaporated now.
A technical and quick player, Mahrez is adept at dribbling, set pieces, scoring, and creating goals for his teams.
While his raw talent was there for everyone to see, his time spent under Claudio Ranieri and Pep Guardiola at Leicester and Man City, respectively, have helped him develop his tactical side of the game, thus turning him into a more complete player.
He’s one of the best wingers in the world right now.
Italy’s hero at Euro 2020, Federico Chiesa is the son of former Italian international Enrico Chiesa. The Juventus man was instrumental in guiding the Azzuri to the title with impressive performances throughout the tournament, including a goal in the semifinal against Spain.
The winger was relatively well known in football circles thanks to his impressive career at Fiorentina but he announced himself to the world at the Euros.
Chiesa has been described as a quick, skilful, and hardworking player who can whip balls into the box as well as score goals himself. His right foot is the stronger one but he’s quite adept at striking the ball with his weaker left foot, too.
The 23-year-old can not only play anywhere across the front line but has occasionally been used as a wingback and a deeper, midfield role. A quality winger with such versatility and a battling mentality, Chiesa is desirable to any top club in Europe.
Raphael Dias Belloli, better known as Raphinha, has put in a string of impressive performances for Leeds United following his move from Rennes at the start of last season.
The Brazilian has been described as a flair player and possesses an x-factor so many of his compatriots seem to do.
Feints, stepovers, skills, trickery, pace, he seems to have it all. But all of this is ineffective without discipline and hard work and Raphinha does not shy away from putting in a shift.
He’s hardworking and combative, often working tirelessly and winning the ball back from his opponents.
These qualities have made the Brazilian international a complete package and he is only expected to get better and better.
He is one of the most exciting players in the Premier League and has attracted attention from the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool. The 24-year-old is one to watch out for in the coming seasons.
Good Morning if your winger is Raphinha. pic.twitter.com/39ToXXynAa— Atif 🇵🇰 (@LUFCAtif) October 11, 2021
The Italian international, who has been around for a while, is still “just” 27 and remains one of the most effective right-wingers in world football.
A favourite of countless players on Football Manager and FUT, Berardi has been called a tenacious, gifted left-footed right-winger who possesses an eye for the goal.
Coupling these with the fact that he is quick, composed, and has an impressive work rate and positional sense, the Sassuolo man is a manager’s dream.
He is a set-piece specialist, too.
Legendary Italian manager Arrigo Sacchi has called Berardi a ‘player of great talent’ and former Italian World Cup winner Giancarlo Antognoni compared him to the great Roberto Baggio.
The winger is one of the most underrated players in world football but no doubt will garner more respect once his playing career comes to an end.
Man! What a goal by Domenico #Berardi!#StellaRossaSassuolo #ForzaSasolpic.twitter.com/1WGI43VyYM— SBR Sports Picks (@SBRSportsPicks) May 21, 2021
Germany and Bayern Munich star Serge Gnabry began his life as a footballer in the Stuttgart youth setup before Arsene Wenger brought him to England at the age of 15.
Gnabry’s early part of his career was plagued with injuries and he could not get a game at Arsenal. He was loaned out to West Bromwich Albion where he struggled for minutes as well and the then manager Tony Pulis famously said he wasn’t ready for top-flight football.
His career needed a reboot which he got at the 2016 Summer Olympics, starring for Die Mannschaft and helping them win silver. He was sold to Werder Bremen where he started showing what he can do consistently and subsequently was part of the German team that won the 2017 U-21 European Championship in Poland.
Gnabry has since signed for Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and has gone on to be an integral part of their success. He is one of the most exciting players in world football with his pace, clinical finishing, and ability to score with both feet. The 26-year-old is famous for his “cooking” celebration he picked up from NBA star James Harden.
Antony Matheus dos Santos or Antony is a Brazilian winger who plays for Dutch giants Ajax.
The club has a history of unearthing gems and turning them into world-beaters and the 21-year-old is certainly walking that path.
Signed from Sao Paolo, Antony has starred for his club scoring 10 goals last season and helping them lift the Eredivise title.
A left-footed winger, Antony prefers playing on the right side of the frontline and has become an integral part of Erik Ten Haag’s side.
He is equally capable of cutting inside and getting his shot away as he is staying out wide and finding a teammate in the box.
Already a full Brazilian international, he is said to possess a natural swagger in the way he plays, and couple that with his trickery, pace, and eye for the goal, it is easy to see why he has quickly turned into one of the most watchable players in world football.
Antony celebrating his 1st call up to the Brazilian national team in style.— Marc Geschwind (@MarcGeschwind) September 25, 2021
What a goal, man is playing so well right now. pic.twitter.com/OoBxSy2vKF
This Japanese hotshot was signed by European powerhouse Real Madrid as an 18-year-old after impressing at FC Tokyo. He had already made his debut for the Japanese national team before arriving in Spain.
Kubo was part of the Barcelona youth setup but was ineligible to play for the club thanks to the violation of a FIFA international transfer policy and subsequently returned to his native Japan.
He’s been called the ‘Japanese Messi’ because of his stronger left foot, dribbling abilities, pace, and the ability to beat his man.
He is adept at finding space and possesses a strong positional awareness and always seems to know where needs to be on the pitch.
After signing for Real, he was immediately loaned out to Mallorca where he impressed but failed to build on that in his subsequent temporary spells at Villareal and Getafe.
Kubo, however, impressed with Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympics, scoring three goals and helping his country reach the semifinals of the competition. He rejoined Mallorca on loan at the start of the season and will be hoping to translate his form over the summer into the league.
What’s better than a player perfectly executing a nutmeg? 🥜— La Liga Lowdown 🧡🇪🇸⚽️ (@LaLigaLowdown) June 12, 2021
Well, two in the same move of course 😏
A goal was just the icing on the cake for Take Kubo 🇯🇵🌟
Born in Barnet, Nony Madueke is a part of this new generation of exciting English flair players such as Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham, and Bukayo Saka.
A part of the Tottenham youth setup, Madueke moved to the PSV in 2018, rejecting an offer from Man United.
That has proven to be the right move as he starred in his breakthrough season for the Dutch club, scoring 9 and assisting 8.
He has since earned an England U-21 cap and is sure to play for the senior team eventually. His exploits in the Netherlands have attracted interest from his former club Tottenham & also Leicester City.
A left-footed right-winger, he has been described as a pacey, direct, and intelligent winger who is adept at playing through the centre, as well.
The 19-year-old supported Manchester United growing up and idolizes Cristiano Ronaldo. If he continues to deliver the way he is right now, Madueke might just sneak into Gareth Southgate’s side for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
This goal by PSV 19 year-old midfielder Noni Madueke in the Champions League play-offs vs Midtjylland 🔥🔥 Last week he scored another one vs Galatasaray. pic.twitter.com/8V62smH2lu— KYAMA 🖤💛⚽ (@ElijahKyama) August 4, 2021
Kayky da Silva Chagas is a highly rated Brazilian youngster who plays for Manchester City.
He was part of the famed Fluminense youth setup and his performances for the senior team attracted the attention of the English champions, among other top European clubs.
The 17-year-old has been called the ‘new Neymar’ and it is easy to see why that is the case.
Kayky possesses a natural flair, dribbling, technique, and one-on-one ability that have been the hallmark of the Brazilian stalwart’s career.
Unlike Neymar, though, he is left-footed and is adept at playing as a right-winger, and has the ability to cut inside and get his shot away.
This is, of course, similar to the role that winger Riyad Mahrez also performs at City. With his raw talent and lack of experience, it is unlikely that Kayky will get any meaningful minutes in the first team soon and a loan move looks likely.
However, the Brazilian is one of the most exciting prospects in world football.
Kayky’s Goal for the Professional Today pic.twitter.com/xM4vAS9O7f— ²¹ (@colewith21) April 11, 2021
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