The rise of the England right back: Why Brighton's Tariq Lamptey will rival Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold
The number of right-sided full-backs at Gareth Southgate’s disposal has been widely reported in the build-up to this summer’s European Championships, with the England manager initially opting for four right-backs in the provisional 33-man squad.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s late injury forced him out of the final group, but Kyle Walker, Reece James and Kieran Trippier were all selected to represent the Three Lions this summer, showing just how valuable right-backs have become in the modern game.
Although Brighton are blessed with a talented English right-back of their own in Tariq Lamptey, they were forced to manage most of last season without him. A recurring hamstring injury kept the youngster on the sidelines for almost three-quarters of the Premier League campaign.
Joel Veltman and Pascal Gross deputised reliably in Lamptey’s absence at times throughout the season, but ultimately both were being asked to play out of their preferred positions.
Despite Veltman’s defensive solidity and Gross’ threat from deep crosses, Lamptey offers the speed and stamina both to cause havoc in the opponents’ final third and swiftly recover when out of possession.
In Graham Potter’s preferred back three system, the onus is both Solly March and Tariq Lamptey to maintain the width and hurt teams from wide areas.
When both full-backs were fit at the start of the season, this game-plan seemed to work perfectly in attack, as the pair managed to record a goal and four assists between them in Albion’s first four games.
Their competency in both forward and defensive areas of the pitch allows Brighton to operate with a fluid formation.
When attacking, Lamptey and March push on to create a five in midfield behind Maupay and Welbeck to overload opposing teams, but quickly retreat out of position to create a flat back five in defence.
Lamptey’s former club Chelsea have successfully used Reece James (right) and Ben Chilwell in this system throughout Tuchel’s reign.
The change in shape has allowed Chelsea to maintain control throughout tough matches, particularly in their famous Champions League final win against Manchester City in May.
Although Potter did exceptionally well to manage without Lamptey for most of last season, Brighton missed his dynamic and direct running on the right-hand side. Whilst March has a tendency to sit slightly deeper and float early crosses into the danger zone, Lamptey is capable of taking on players and getting to the by-line, which usually results in higher percentage chances for the strikers in and around the six-yard box.
Therefore, it’s no surprise to see that Neal Maupay enjoyed his richest vein of form last season whilst Lamptey was in the starting XI. The Frenchman scored four goals in his first four games of the season and seemed to feed off Lamptey’s low deliveries and cutbacks far better than aerial crosses.
Although Lamptey is a right-back by trade, he contributes significantly to the attacking output of the team.
It may take the youngster a short while to return to his best after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, but if he can stay fit, he promises to be a very useful outlet for Brighton in attack next season.