LONDON ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea battles Maxi Rodriguez of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on February 6 2011 in London England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Continuing our series of depth analysis (GK, CB, LB), we'll move on now to the right side of the defense. This position is a bit unsettled at the moment, as three different players have appeared to be the first choice at different points this season. Jose Bosingwa has been the most recent starter on the right as he works his way back from injury. At 28, Bosingwa should be in the prime of his career. He hasn't appeared to be in very good form, however, and there are many concerns about how much Bosingwa has left in the tank. While he's always been known as an attacking presence, he's looked rusty on that end of the pitch this season. His defense has always been somewhat suspect, and that to has looked additionally concerning this season. Bosingwa is under team control until June of 2012, at which point he will be 30.
Branislav Ivanovic turns 27 in several weeks time. He just penned a new deal to keep him in London for the next 5 1/2 years. While Ivanovic is primarily a center back, he's been more than adequate when played on the right side in the past. With the addition of David Luiz, it's very possible he'll be used at right back fairly often going forward. He's not as dangerous on the attack as even the current form of Bosingwa, but he's light years better defensively. He also provides long throw ins as well as a very dangerous aerial target from corners and set pieces. He's a very different player from Bosingwa, but also a viable option as an everday player.Paulo Ferreira rounds out the natural depth at right back, and in a pinch he's a serviceable option. I don't think anyone would be comfortable trotting out Ferreira at this point in his career everyday, but as squad depth we could certainly do worse. As I've mentioned before, I fully expect Ferreira to return to Portugal over the summer, as his days as a regular Premier League caliber player appear to be over. Michael Essien is also capable of providing cover at the position in the case of injury, but clearly he's better suited to the midfield.
We currently have two players on loan capable of manning the position. Michael Mancienne is in his second season at Wolverhampton, and has generally played center back or as a holding midfielder. His skillset is far more similar to Ivanovic than Bosingwa, although he's not the same type of threat in the air. His versatility and ability to provide cover at such an unsettled position along with his "homegrown" status may end up finding him a spot in the Chelsea roster next season. He was, however, available for purchase last summer for the fee of around 5 million pounds. It's very possible he leaves for good this summer.
Jack Cork has also played at the right back position. He's a regular on the England U21's, and is currently on loan at Burnley. Like Mancienne, Chelsea appeared willing to sell Cork if they received the right offer over the summer, but he may have worked his way into their long term plans with his performance this season. Like Ben Gordon, Cork's ability to make the club next year may be influenced by his ability to play in the midfield as well. Currently that's where he sees the bulk of his action, and generally it's where he plays for England as well.
Billy Clifford is the regular starter for the reserve side, and he's more of an attacking back in the mold of Bosingwa. Clifford dressed for the first team bench this season in the Champions League, and in all likelihood will be going out on loan next year to get more playing time. Ben Sampayo is the regular youth team right back, and provides a skillset very similar to that of Clifford. Tomas Kalas is joining the academy in May, and he's capable of playing RB as well as his preferred CB. The abundance of attacking backs on both sides in the youth ranks really seem to indicate that this is what Chelsea are looking for going forward.
Because of the lack of an internal heir apparent to the position as well as the likely impending departures of Ferreira and Bosingwa, I'd expect that this position will provide plenty of rumors this summer. We've already been heavily linked to Gregory Van der Weil as well as Davide Santon, and I'd expect with the infusion of cash this winter we'll start to hear rumors about guys like Sergio Ramos and Dani Alves as well. Being linked to Glen Johnson wouldn't surprise me either, as Liverpool seem to have other natural options on the right. Of all of these players, Van der Weil seems like the most available as well as the best fit. Of every position on the field, I'd expect this to be the one where we are most certain to be adding a player in the next window. Let's hear your thoughts on right back in the comments below.
How confident are you in the current depth at right back?
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Somewhat (26 votes)
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52 total votes