The demise of the traditional 4-4-2 formation has seen the role of a wide player evolve from whipping in crosses for strikers to getting in the box and finding the back of the net.

Advertisement

Some of the game's greatest talents operate on the flanks, with their pace and trickery, as well as an eye for goal, marking them out as principal threats to the opposition.

It is, therefore, hardly surprising that teams will splash out big transfer fees to land wingers capable of turning a game on its head... but who is the best in the world at the moment?

We've compiled a top 10 based on recent form, status in the game, number of trophies won and key stats. You'll, no doubt, disagree with a few of our rankings.

RadioTimes.com brings you our definitive list of the 10 best wingers in the world in 2024.

More like this

Check our more football features: Best players of all time | Best players in the world 2024 | Best midfielders 2024 | Best defenders 2024 | Best goalkeepers 2024 | Best young players 2024 | Best teams in the world 2024

Mohamed Salah in action for Liverpool on a green background
Best wingers in the world Getty Images

10. Riyad Mahrez (Al-Ahli)

Riyad Mahrez in action for Al Ahli
Riyad Mahrez. Getty Images

It was a shame to see Riyad Mahrez quit the Premier League for the Saudi Pro League, but you can forgive the Algerian for thinking he had achieved it all in England after Manchester City's treble-winning season.

A devastating dribbler with twinkle toes, Mahrez does his best work in the final third, finding the back of the net and laying on goals for team-mates.

9. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia knee slides to celebrate a goal for Napoli
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Getty Images

Napoli's wing wonder is next on the list after playing a starring role in the Partenopei's scudetto triumph last season, with 25 goal contributions in 34 appearances.

A rapid dribbler with an eye for putting the ball away, the sky is the limit for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who turns 23 in February, with plenty more trophies likely to be on the way.

8. Neymar (Al Hilal)

Neymar in action for Al Hilal
Neymar. Getty Images

One of the biggest names of the 21st century, there will always be a nagging feeling that Neymar never quite fulfilled his maximum potential due to the lack of Champions League success on his CV, but the Brazilian is a smashing talent and one of the most technically gifted of his generation.

A serial trophy winner with more than 15 major titles on his CV, the former Barcelona and PSG star is also Brazil's record goalscorer.

7. Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich)

Serge Gnabry in action for Bayern Munich
Serge Gnabry. Getty Images

Once written off by former West Brom boss Tony Pulis as not being good enough for the Baggies, Serge Gnabry has gone on to establish himself as one of the world's best wingers at Bayern Munich after a frustrating spell at Arsenal.

A five-time Bundesliga winner, the Germany international has also lifted the Champions League and Club World Cup as well as averaging nearly a goal-per game for his country.

6. Jack Grealish (Man City)

Jack Grealish in action for Man City
Jack Grealish. Getty Images

The £100 million man is often criticised for his lack of goals and assists, but Jack Grealish brings so much more to the game than that. The Manchester City ace is a superb technician, capable of dropping a shoulder and beating his man or protecting the ball and winning fouls in the final third.

A core component of Pep Guardiola's treble-winning squad in 2022-23, the England international will be hoping to help the Three Lions to European glory this year.

5. Rafael Leao (AC Milan)

Rafael Leao looks up and grins to celebrate a goal for AC Milan
Rafael Leao. Getty Images

Rafael Leao is the sort of player football fans pay good money to see live – explosive, dynamic and a master dribbler. He simply gets you off your seat.

An integral member of the AC Milan side that lifted the Serie A crown in 2021-22 and reached the semi-finals of last season's Champions League, he was awarded the club's famed number 10 shirt, previously worn by the likes of of Clarence Seedorf and Roberto Baggio, before the current campaign.

4. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Bukayo Saka holds out his arms to celebrate a goal
Bukayo Saka. Getty Images

Arsenal's star boy has been consistently brilliant since breaking into the Gunners first team and enjoyed his best season to date in 2022-23. Bukayo Saka glides across the pitch with the deftness of a ballerina, consistently makes the right decision and finds the back of the net like a seasoned striker.

England Men's Player of the Year for the last two seasons will be hoping to make his mark at Euro 2024 and fire the Three Lions to international glory.

3. Rodrygo (Real Madrid)

Rodrygo celebrates a goal with a finger gesture
Rodrygo. Getty Images

It takes a special talent to play more than 180 times for Real Madrid and 20 times for Brazil before turning 23, but that is exactly what Rodrygo has achieved.

A low centre of gravity coupled with an ability to go either way makes him a nightmare for full-backs. Rodrygo already has two La Liga titles and one Champions League success on his CV, while a personal-best return of 19 goals in 57 appearances in 2022-23 proved he is one of the world's most deadly wingers.

2. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

Vinicius Junior points to his ear to celebrate a goal for Real Madrid
Vinicius Junior. Getty Images

Signed by Real Madrid for £38 million at the age of 16, Vinicius Junior has more than lived up to the hype and is one of the crown jewels at the Spanish capital club.

With pace to burn and magic in his boots, there is, quite simply, no stopping the Brazilian when he's in full flight. Scoring the winning goal in the 2022 Champions League final confirmed his standing as one of the world's best players.

1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Mohamed Salah in action for Liverpool
Mohamed Salah. Getty Images

Sitting pretty at the top of our list is Liverpool's main man Mohamed Salah. The £36.9 million Anfield chiefs paid Roma for his signature in the summer of 2017 has to be regarded as one of the bargains of the century.

As well as winning all the major trophies in club football, Salah has backed that up with individual gongs, including three top flight Golden Boots. Liverpool's record Premier League goalscorer rarely lets his sky-high standards drop.

Who is the best winger in the world?

Who else but Mohamed Salah? He might not be the greatest technician in the game, but he's ludicrously effective at the most important part of it – sticking the ball in the back of the net.

The fact the Liverpool hero continues to put up bonkers numbers season after season is a testament to his knack for being in the right place at the right time.

If you're looking for something else to watch, check out our TV Guide or Streaming Guide, or visit our Sport hub for all the latest news.

Advertisement

Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10 – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement