Italian football has always relied heavily on full-backs, whether it is with the 4-4-2 diamond—where they are required to defend deep, often isolated, before triggering a counterattack—or the flavour-of-the-month 3-5-2, which demands that the full-backs offer more of a cutting edge in attack, but also remain diligent to the threat behind, with the centre-backs tucked in.
With Paolo Maldini largely considered to be the best all-around full-back world football has ever witnessed, it is a position with a great deal of responsibility, more so than in other footballing cultures.
With such tactical diversity in Italian football, poor full-backs are quickly identified and can be exposed, so it is a position that has great strength in depth all the way down the league.
Here are my top eight full-backs. I have tried to included four right-backs and four left-backs, but as is the case in Italy especially, full-backs are becoming more and more versatile and covering both sides of the pitch.
I have included full-backs operating as wingers in 3-5-2, but also tried to avoid selecting other players shoehorned into the wide areas in order to be fitted into the starting lineup, such as Kwadwo Asamoah.
Let me know your suggestions in the comments section below and whether you agree or disagree with my selections.