The importance of being a full-back

Full-back is the most demanding position in modern football. Not only do you have to defend and shut down and speedy winger, but you must also join into your team’s attack.

The best modern full-backs are glorified wingers who can defend and no one does that better than Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

Alexander-Arnold made his Liverpool first-team breakthrough as a teenager and has since played in two Champions League Finals while being just 21-years old. The right-back tallied 16 assists in all competitions in 2018-19 helping Liverpool win the Champions League and finish second in the Premier League.

Robertson worked his way up through Scotland’s lower football leagues before earning a move to Hull City. It was there that Liverpool’s recruitment team saw something in the Scotsman no one else did and signed him despite Hull City’s relegation from the Premier League. While Alexander-Arnold tallied 16 assists last term, Robertson accumulated 13.

Both full-backs were in the team nearly every week as well, bombarding up and down the flanks. The work rate a modern full-back goes through is immense.

This season, the two full-backs have again shown just how vital they are and how important the full-back position is. After 11 Premier League matches Alexander-Arnold leads the division in touches with 1,146. Who has the second-most touches? Robertson does with 1,102.

Interestingly, Leicester City full-back Ricardo Pereira has the third-most touches with 1,059. In fact, the Premier League’s top nine players with the most touches are all defenders. Norwich City’s Emi Buendia is the league’s first player that is not a defender to have the most touches.

Full-backs not only defend, but they must cover a lot of ground during a match. A never-ending engine is important for all full-backs in the modern game. If you want to reach the professional ranks as a full-back, you better be ready to run all day long. You better also be capable of making pinpoint crosses and passes to teammates in the final third.

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