13 Best Wide Attacking Players in the World Right Now

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2013

13 Best Wide Attacking Players in the World Right Now

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    With the wide position becoming increasingly important again in modern football, Bleacher Report takes a look at the top 13 plying the trade.

    Whether it's a wide forward in a 4-3-3 or an inverted winger in a 4-2-3-1, this list brings you the very finest players getting chalk on their boots week in, week out.

    Who joins Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery on the list?

Francesco Totti

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    Thirty-six years and still going very, very strong.

    Francesco Totti has played in quite a few positions over the years, and right now he's manning the left forward spot in Zdenek Zeman's 4-3-3 formation.

    With Pablo Osvaldo taking the central striker's role, the veteran has been forced out wide.

    That's hardly hindered his contributions though, and six goals and six assists from 18 games has Roma just three points off the top four in Serie A.

Jefferson Farfan

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    If you haven't seen Jefferson Farfan since the night Schalke were beaten soundly by Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League semifinal, you might be surprised by his inclusion.

    The Peruvian has been accused of lacking the end product that would make him an elite threat from a wide position for almost all of his career, and now, at the age of 28, he's finally added that element to his game.

    Five goals and six assists in 17 starts is a solid tally, but what's more impressive is his Bundesliga-high 3.1 accurate crosses per game.

Juan Mata

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    With just one less goal than striker Fernando Torres in English Premier League and UEFA Champions League action, it's difficult to label Juan Mata as anything other than a dynamic, ruthless threat.

    If you're looking to hand out Player of the Season (so far) gongs, this Spaniard is the worthy recipient for the Blues, and his goals have kept Rafa Benitez's top-four hopes alive.

    He's always been a very tidy, neat and intricate player, but the recent influx of composure inside the box to finish off chances have made him nothing short of deadly.

Erik Lamela

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    Erik Lamela has been Roma's best player this season, and the Giallorossi are edging toward a Luciano Spalletti-esque free-scoring state that fans are really enjoying.

    They've outscored everyone in Serie A using their fierce three-pronged attack, and playing on the right-hand side is this young Argentine stud.

    Lamela has given Zdenek Zeman a genuine, pacy threat off the edge, and having scored 10 already, he'll be looking for 10 more.

Stephan El Shaarawy

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    If it wasn't for Stephan El Shaarawy's emergence, Massimiliano Allegri would have already lost his job.

    The young Italian prodigy has been a constant threat on the left for AC Milan this season, and his 14 league goals have kept the Rossoneri in with a chance of breaching the UEFA Champions League places late in the season.

    His slight figure is no downside, as El Shaarawy uses high football IQ to find space where others can't and take advantage of it.

    For a detailed analysis on the kid, click here.

James Rodriguez

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    James Rodriguez is one of those names popping up every single transfer window.

    The FC Porto youngster would command a titanic fee, but he'd be worth every penny if any club took the plunge.

    He's made a successful, if surprising, transition to left-wing from the No. 10 position he played at Banfield in Argentina, grabbing eight goals and six assists from just 11 starts this season.

    James is the reason the Dragoes don't miss Hulk as they hotly contest the Superliga with an impressive Benfica side.

Neymar

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    Whether you believe he's the next global superstar or an overpriced waste of space, one thing is certain—Neymar is tearing the Brasileiro Serie A to shreds on a consistent basis.

    The year 2012 was his most successful yet, managing 20 goals and 11 assists for Santos, but many feel he needs to leave South America to further up his game.

    The question is, which Spanish heavyweight will he choose?

Marco Reus

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    Marco Reus—the man who could take Cristiano Ronaldo's crown?

    He's definitely got all the attributes, and his devastating playing style reeks of CR7, but whether or not he becomes one of the world's premier attackers is yet to be revealed.

    What we do know is that Borussia Dortmund were wise to break the bank for him, and he might just be the signing that helps them keep their other key components and build a dynasty in yellow and black.

Willian

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    Shakhtar Donetsk are a seriously impressive outfit right now, opening up a 13-point lead at the top of the Ukrainian Premier Liga and entering the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League at the expense of Chelsea.

    One of the many talents the Donbass Arena houses is Brazilian delight Willian, whose performances both domestically and on the continent have left Europe's elite clubs considering a bid.

    He's able to play in several different positions, but he's asserted himself as a bona fide wide threat this season.

Thomas Mueller

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    Thomas Mueller is the man who has Arjen Robben locked out of the Bayern Munich side.

    The Dutchman's frail confidence and consistent injury issues saw Mueller given the chance to shine, and his consistent output has made him arguably Jupp Heynckes most integral player.

    He takes up the right-wing slot in the Die Roten's 4-2-3-1 and torments opposing left-backs, scoring nine league goals and adding seven assists.

Gareth Bale

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    Gareth Bale has had a lot of managers, and the impressive thing about how he's turned out is that he's used every experience to grow as a player.

    It used to be that Bale would race you down the line (just ask Maicon), but now you don't know where he's going to go (just ask Rio Ferdinand).

    Harry Redknapp's experiment of placing him on the right laid the foundation for a diverse, multi-talented winger who can go inside and out.

    Andre Villas-Boas is reaping the rewards.

Franck Ribery

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    Franck Ribery is in the form of his life right now, giving his very best to Jupp Heynckes in each and every game for Bayern Munich.

    Never before has the Frenchman felt it necessary to track back and make an impact defensively, but the winger has seriously changed his ways.

    Perhaps he's seen how Thomas Muller has pushed Arjen Robben out of Bayern's side and upped his game, or perhaps he's maturing as a player.

    Whatever the reason, he's been integral to Die Roten's opening of a nine-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Real Madrid might be having a topsy-turvy season, but Cristiano Ronaldo is just his usual brilliant self.

    Coming in off the left-hand touchline for the vast majority of his Los Merengues career, you'd have thought someone might have figured him out by now, but 22 goals from 25 starts already this season suggests no one is any closer to stopping this train.

    With Jose Mourinho playing games with Iker Casillas, Ronaldo has even adopted the captain's armband at times, making him a leader at both club and international level.