The vintage winger of yesteryear is hard to come across in the current day and age.
The emergence of the ‘inverted’ wide man has altered our perceptions of the winger. Such players are no longer expected to hit the byline and cross at will – that’s now the job of the marauding full-back – but are instead tasked with cutting onto their favoured foot and creating or scoring from a more central position.
Of course, there’s the odd player who resembles the throwback profile of a right winger, but those are hard to come by and few are among the very best in the world right now.
Here’s our list of the top 25 right wingers in the world as part of our 2023 Welcome to World Class series.
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A recent big money signing for PSG, Bradley Barcola is a name which you’ll hear more and more in the coming years.
He’s dynamism out wide is hard to find.
A once underrated player, the 2022/23 season with Brighton confirmed to many that Solly March is a high-level attacking player and deserves a lot of respect.
It was certainly his most productive season as he played a key role in Brighton qualifying for the Europa League for the first time ever, contributing seven goals and seven assists in the Premier League.
There may not be much desire for a move away from the AMEX but he is perfectly placed to continue building his reputation and become a legend for Brighton.
Benjamin Bourigeaud is something of a late bloomer, earning lots of plaudits for his performances at Rennes.
He has played for the Ligue 1 side since 2017 and has recently started posting some really impressive numbers.
The Frenchman grabbed 11 goals and 13 assists in Ligue 1 in 2021/22 and followed that up in the 2022/23 season with seven goals and ten assists from the right wing. Given his age, major clubs may not choose to take a punt on the Rennes star but his performances deserve recognition nonetheless.
There’s been large periods where Ferran Torres has completely fallen out of favour at Barcelona, but right now the Spanish forward has played himself back in Xavi Hernandez’s plans.
The 23-year-old has been banging in the goals for both club and country recently.
A frighteningly fast winger, Samuel Chukwueze has attracted transfer interest for an impressive few years in Spain, beginning in 2018/19.
The 2022/23 season was his best for numerical impact with six goals and five assists in 37 La Liga games, which is why AC Milan ended up signing him.
Chukwueze plays football in that furious, high-octane way that really excites watching fans.
Jadon Sancho’s time at Manchester United has been disappointing but there are various factors why the England international’s Borussia Dortmund form hasn’t translated over to the Premier League.
There is less space to attack in transition in England compared to the space haven that is the Bundesliga, but Sancho has also been hamstrung by poor coaching at United.
He’s yet to kick on under Erik ten Hag and may need a move away from Old Trafford to reignite his career.
Who had Miguel Almiron ending 2022 in Ballon d’Or worthy form at the start of the year?
The Paraguayan forward has lit up the Premier League as part of Newcastle’s swashbuckling attacking lineup, enjoying an incredible scoring run on the right.
That streak came to a halt in the second half of the 2022/23 season but Almiron boasts an respectable strike rate throughout his career and will hope the best is still to come.
Still in his early 20s, Doku has gone about his development calmly and out of the spotlight, aside from a few shining displays at Euro 2020.
He may not reach the heights some expected when he first gained notoriety, but the Belgium international has the potential to climb higher on this list – especially now that he’s joined Manchester City.
There’s no doubt Michael Olise has the potential to fly up this list. He’s got all the makings of an elite winger.
However, Olise can also shine in a central position and it was in an attacking midfield role where he broke out at Reading in the Championship before he made the switch to Crystal Palace in 2021.
His debut season at Selhurst Park was promising and he followed it up with double digit assists in 2022/23. A creative winger who boasts impressive playmaking tools, his technical ability has seen comparisons drawn to Riyad Mahrez and Arjen Robben.
16 years old.
There’s no way that Lamine Yamal should be this good already, and yet he is.
Yamal is becoming a star at Barcelona and also recently became the youngest goalscorer in Spain’s history.
He has all-time great potential.
From non-league Hereford United to West Ham and Europa Conference League trophies, Jarrod Bowen has embarked on quite the journey.
Bowen has consistently impressed in east London since arriving from Hull City in 2019 but 2021/22 was a coming-of-age campaign for the industrious right winger. The Englishman scored 12 times in the Premier League and added ten assists for the Hammers before making his first England appearances.
Bowen is a relentless winger who often creates chances for himself thanks to his work rate and defensive effort. As the scorer of the goal that won West Ham the Europa Conference League, he is etched into Irons folklore forever.
The perennially underrated Domenico Berardi has lived a comfortable life in Sassuolo.
He has seen some of Italy’s finest young talent come and go in Emilia-Romagna and while he’s certainly good enough to join one of Serie A’s behemoths, the Italy international has persistently opted for the comfort of familiarity.
Berardi has been nothing short of an output machine at Sassuolo and has to be regarded as one of Italy’s finest products of the 2010s, but his unwillingness to challenge himself at the very highest level domestically means he doesn’t make our top ten.
Manchester United spell aside, Angel Di Maria has been playing at an elite level for over a decade.
His game has had to evolve as he reaches the twilight of his career, but the Argentine is still one of the best right wingers in the world.
At PSG, Di Maria played the supporting role. He couldn’t compete with Kylian Mbappe’s productivity nor rival Neymar’s majesty with the ball, but he ensured PSG’s ego-laden attack was balanced and played an underrated role in their journey to the 2020 Champions League final.
He’s now back at Benfica after a brief season with Juve.
Juventini laughed in the faces of Spurs supporters when Fabio Paratici dragged Dejan Kulusevski out of Max Allegri’s prison in January 2022.
Kulusevski, or Deki as he’s commonly known in north London, was nothing short of a revelation after joining in January 2022, helping the Lilywhites claim a top-four spot by the season’s end.
His ability to retain possession under pressure, glide beyond opponents and seemingly always make the right decision in the final third means he slotted seamlessly in at Tottenham. His second season was disappointing but Kulusevski remains a sublime player to watch and one with an innate feel for the game.
In a post-Kai Havertz world, Moussa Diaby emerged as a major protagonist at Bayer Leverkusen.
The Frenchman was primarily a creator off the flank before his goal output exploded in 2021/22. Diaby scored a career-high 13 Bundesliga goals alongside 12 assists as he spearheaded Die Werkself’s return to the Champions League.
Diaby epitomises modern-day wing play. He inverts off the right so he can wreak havoc in more central zones but also boasts the speed and trickery to beat his man on the outside. Diaby’s two-footedness adds to his mystique in possession while he’s a brilliant ball striker, too.
Now at Aston Villa, the wide player is already impressing Premier League fans too.
Federico Chiesa’s stellar Euro 2020 campaign with Italy thrust the electric winger to the forefront of these sorts of discussions.
Chiesa was once a precocious talent at Fiorentina before Juventus came in with an irresistible offer in 2020. It took some time for the Italian to settle in Turin, but he exploded down the stretch of the 2020/21 campaign which set the tone for his career-altering summer.
Chiesa is equally brilliant off both flanks, excellent on the counter-attack, runs in behind at will and is now a wise decision-maker in the final third.
Pep Guardiola’s tendency to rotate means Riyad Mahrez hasn’t produced the numbers of some of his contemporaries, but the Algerian winger has come up clutch in some huge moments for Manchester City.
His performances in the knockout stages of the 2020/21 Champions League campaign spring to mind, especially his three-goal effort over two legs in the semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain.
Mahrez’s tendency to produce when it matters most is just another string to his bow. The former Leicester winger is as naturally gifted as they come and emanates elegance and grace every time he touches the ball.
It’s pretty tough to judge how much Leroy Sane has developed since swapping Manchester City for Bayern Munich.
His total goal contribution output has been steady since his arrival in 2020 but the Germany international is yet to completely dominate at the Allianz Arena like Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski have in recent years.
That said, he remains a creative threat from out wide and can deliver devastating shots from distance with his left boot.
Ousmane Dembele is one of the most gifted footballers in the world but injuries and inconsistency have prevented the Frenchman from reaching the stratospheric heights he was once destined to.
His time at Barcelona has been incredibly frustrating but Xavi’s appointment offered the enigmatic winger a beacon of hope. The former midfielder recognised Dembele’s unordinary talent and made him a key part of his team last season.
Despite this, Dembele opted to up sticks and take his talents to PSG during the summer.
Angel Di Maria clone Raphinha was courted by several top Premier League clubs following two wonderful years with Leeds but eventually choose to sign with Barcelona.
Raphinha is so technically proficient he’s capable of dictating the tempo of proceedings from his wide position. He’s athletic enough to beat his man in a myriad of ways but prefers to drift inside and create from a more central position.
The Brazil international was excellent at Elland Road under Marcelo Bielsa but Xavi still has plenty of talent to squeeze out of Raphinha.
Germany international Serge Gnabry was once the most feared winger on the planet, especially in London. Both Tottenham and Chelsea felt his wrath in the 2019/20 season as Bayern Munich won the Champions League off the back of the former Arsenal winger’s sensational form.
While Gnabry remains one of the most potent wingers in the world, he perhaps didn’t build off that incredible campaign in the manner many projected.
However, Gnabry has quietly gone about his work in Bavaria and continued to score at an impressive rate. His two-footedness, turn of pace and ferocious ball striking make him destructive on his day.
Rodrygo has often been outshone by compatriot and teammate Vinicius Junior since joining Real Madrid in 2019, but the Brazilian is starting to produce more of his own big moments.
The Blancos star is an excellent technician who can beat opponents one-v-one in a myriad of ways. While he lacks supreme physicality and athleticism, the Brazilian does boast predatory instincts in the box and is brilliant at creating space for himself in the final third.
While Vinicius scored the all-important winner in the 2021/22 Champions League final, it was Rodrygo’s goals in the quarter-final and semi-final second legs that saw Real progressed.
Bukayo Saka was just 19 when his spot kick was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma to win Italy the Euros. A barrage of abuse came his way but Arsenal’s starboy responded by leading the Gunners’ scoring charts in 2021/22 and their 2022/23 title challenge.
To bounce back from what was undoubtedly the most difficult moment of his young senior career to date in the manner he has is nothing short of admirable. Saka was excellent for England at Euro 2020 and has been superb for Arsenal ever since Unai Emery handed him his debut in 2018.
He has matured rapidly and quickly evolved into one of the world’s best right wingers. He’s capable of dominating his flank single-handedly as Mikel Arteta often isolates Saka down the right.
The Arsenal starlet is sneakily strong and masterful in one-vs-one situations.
There is no ‘winger’ in world football more ruthless in front of goal than Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian’s first stint in the Premier League was unsuccessful but his second term has thrust him into superstardom.
His goal returns each season since joining Liverpool are absurd, reading 32, 22, 19, 22, 23 and 19 in the Premier League. He’s a two-time Golden Boot winner and his knack for pulling off the spectacular will only enhance his legacy when his time in England is looked back upon.
The greatest footballer of all time, and despite being 36 years old, he’s probably still the best footballer in the world right now too.
Messi is the favourite for the 2023 Ballon d’Or – an award he looks set to win for the eighth-time – after finally getting his hands on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
READ MORE ON THE BEST 25 PLAYERS FOR EVERY POSITION IN WORLD FOOTBALL