LaLiga right backs 2023/24 – Who are the best RB’s in Spain?

Who are the best LaLiga right backs? We’re going to take an analytical look at the best right sided full backs in the Spanish top flight by comparing key metrics that help highlight the best defensive and attacking players in a position that has evolved considerably in recent years.

We’ve only included players who have played at least 500 minutes in LaLiga 2023/24 so far with right back or right wing back being their most used position. Data is via FBREF as of 21st November 2023 (after 13 matchdays) and is per 90 minutes in the first two sections unless otherwise stated. Players needed to rank in the top 3 for any of the metrics to be included.

LaLiga right backs 2023/24

Best attacking right backs

Player Progressive Carrying Distance Successful Take Ons Crosses Touches in Attacking Third Shot Creating Actions Assists Expected Assisted Goals
Joao Cancelo 168.0 (1) 2.56 (1) 2.89 23.9 (3) 2.91 (3) 0.11 0.18 (3)
Yan Couto 157.2 (3) 1.08 4.94 (3) 30.7 (1) 2.54 0.36 (1) 0.13
Jesus Navas 101.5 0.63 9.0 (1) 25.4 (2) 3.01 (2) 0 0.05
Cesar Azpilicueta 160.6 (2) 0 0.77 12.8 1.54 0.15 0.25 (1)
Oscar De Marcos 98.2 0.29 4.33 20.8 2.22 0.29 (2) 0.21 (2)
Oscar Mingueza 93.7 0.90 5.25 (2) 21.9 3.94 (1) 0.08 0.13
Juan Foyth 111.5 2.16 (2) 2.05 15.8 1.25 0 0.04
Thierry Correia 93.0 1.17 (3) 2.72 14.4 1.55 0.19 0.03
Arnau Martinez 126.9 0.14 0.56 10.1 1.98 0.28 (3) 0.16
Dani Carvajal 74.3 0.57 1.98 22.2 2.45 0.19 0.18 (3)

To the naked eye, Joao Cancelo certainly stands out as the best right back in LaLiga when it comes to attacking contributions and his ability to influence matters in the final third. The stats largely back that up with Barcelona’s summer signing ranking as the best right back in the Spanish top flight when it comes to progressive carrying distance and successful take ons per 90 minutes.

He’s also in the top three for shot creating actions and expected assists while the Portugal international has also already scored twice in LaLiga with both he and compatriot Joao Felix making an immediate impact in Barcelona following deadline day moves..

Over in Girona, there is an embarrassment of riches in the position with the surprise table toppers boasting two excellent young right backs. Arnau Martinez is still just 20 and has already established himself as a proven performer at this level but he’s facing strong competition this year from the impressive Yan Couto this season. The 21 year old tops the rankings for assists per 90 minutes and touches in the final third, although it’s true that he has been used in a more advanced role at times.

Proving it’s not just a young man’s game, Jesus Navas continues to post impressive numbers at the grand old age of 38. In an under-performing Sevilla side, the Spain international is way clear of the rest with an average of 9 crosses per game and he also ranks 2nd for shot creating actions and touches in the final third amongst the right backs to have played 500 minutes or more so far this season in LaLiga.

The only right back with more shot creating actions is something of a surprise in the form of Celta Vigo’s Oscar Mingueza. He’s quietly enjoying a strong season and has often provided good service down the right flank for a misfiring Celta side.

Best defensive right backs

Player Tackles Won % of Dribblers Tackled Interceptions Ball Recoveries
Thierry Correia 2.04 (2) 55.9 1.84 (1) 7.38 (1)
Joao Cancelo 2.33 (1) 72.4 (3) 0.67 6.67
Jesus Navas 1.88 (3) 62.5 1.38 (2) 6.38
Jesus Areso 1.36 91.7 (1) 0.86 5.31
Juan Iglesias 1.11 77.8 (2) 1.11 5.71
Hector Bellerin 0.89 44.4 1.33 (3) 5.11
Hamari Traore 1.16 54.2 1.07 7.05 (2)
Ruben Peña 1.70 40.0 1.28 6.91 (3)

In terms of defensive actions, Valencia’s Thierry Correia really stands out with some excellent numbers. He leads LaLiga in terms of interceptions and ball recoveries by a right back while only Joao Cancelo has won more tackles.

Jesus Areso ranks as the best player in the whole league of any position when it comes to his excellent tackle success rate of 91.7%. The Osasuna man is enjoying a breakthrough campaign in many respects having spent last term in the Spanish second tier on loan at Burgos.

Meanwhile Jesus Navas features again with the veteran defender ranking in the top three for both the number of tackles won and the number of interceptions.

Best right backs in LaLiga by Sorare scoring matrix

Player Last 15 Games Average Last 40 Games Average
Joao Cancelo 67.9 (1) 60.3 (1)
Oscar De Marcos 55.2 (2) 48.2
Dani Carvajal 53.2 (3) 50.8
Juan Foyth 41.9 52.1 (2)
Nahuel Molina 49.7 51.4 (3)

Sorare’s advanced scoring matrix rates a player out of 100 in each match he plays according to every action they make on the pitch with decisive actions such as goals, assists, goal-line clearances and last man tackles scoring highest. In contrast to the data above, it also factors in performances in all competitions for club and country but the table retains the “500+ minutes in LaLiga 2023/24” threshold.

Joao Cancelo comes out on top as the best right back and indeed best defender in LaLiga in terms of his last 15 average and he’s some way clear of the rest with surprisingly impressive defensive numbers to bolster his attacking qualities as the previous section demonstrated.

Best laliga right back - Joao Cancelo
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There’s also a bit more love for the likes of Dani Carvajal and Nahuel Molina when using the Sorare matrix with the duo both solid all-round players. That’s a description that’s certainly befitting of Villarreal’s Juan Foyth too while Athletic’s Oscar De Marcos is the second best right back in LaLiga when analysing the last 15 games according to this metric.

Conclusion – Who are LaLiga’s best right backs?

The addition of Joao Cancelo into the league this season feels like it has given us the kind of exciting, attack-minded right-back that has been relatively lacking in the Spanish top flight in recent years, at least at the very top end. The stats all suggest he is setting the standard for attacking full-backs in LaLiga right now but the likes of Yan Couto and Arnau Martinez at Girona are certainly emerging talents to keep an eye on.

Much though depends on what you’re looking for in a right back and the kind of football that a team is looking to play. After a shaky start to his Atletico Madrid career, Nahuel Molina has quickly evolved into a really important player for Diego Simeone’s team while Dani Carvajal rarely lets club or country down.

In terms of standout right backs outside of the “big three”, Oscar De Marcos and Jesus Navas continue to impress deep into their 30’s, Juan Foyth is perhaps now the only defender that Villarreal can truly depend on, while Thierry Correia is posting some impressive numbers for Valencia this season.  

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