Few positions in football need the same level of defensive skill, technical ability, and work rate as fullback or wing back and here we learn about the top 10 left backs in world football.
10. Raphael Guerreiro
Guerreiro rose to fame for his high-octane approach up and down the left flank and is rumoured to be a transfer target for Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti. The French-born Portuguese started his country’s Euro 2021 campaign with a goal against Hungary but then scored an own goal against Germany. Former students of France’s Clairefontaine academy include Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, and Thierry Henry.
9. Sergio Reguilon
Since joining Spurs in 2020, he has battled to stay consistent, with Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo’s spells being marred by dismal defensive performances. Spurs have looked more sturdy in recent months under Antonio Conte’s direction, and Reguilon has played a key role in that. Son-Heung Min’s touchline-hugging performances give breadth to a flank where he frequently cuts inside to get past Harry Kane in key areas.
8. Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw has flourished under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United and Gareth Southgate for England, with Jose Mourinho’s ‘special’ brand of man-management firmly in the rear-view mirror. The 25-year-old has earned the moniker Shawberto Carlos from his England teammates for being one of the stars of Euro 2021.
Shaw was joint second in assists in the competition going into his side’s semi-final against Denmark, ahead of veterans like Jordi Alba and David Alaba, and his crossing accuracy was better than both Alaba and Andy Robertson.
7. Lucas Digne
In January, the Frenchman moved to Villa Park after being deemed surplus to requirements at Goodison Park. His first few months at Aston Villa have gone well. His performance has attracted a lot of attention, and he has quickly established himself as one of the top left-backs in the world.
On the field, Digne is a marauding full-back who is powerful in defence and bold while attacking. He is at ease with the ball at his feet, and his ability to cross is one of his finest assets. Digne can also distribute the ball well and can spot a through ball from the left. As a defender, he is capable of blocking, intercepting passes, and winning the ball.
6. Kieran Tierney
Arsenal’s rebirth under Mikel has been founded on a strong defence, as all revolutions are. The additions of Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, and Takihero Tomiyasu have been huge, but Tierney’s calm leadership on the left side has been crucial in getting those guys up to speed.
The Scotsman is tenacious, industrious, and excellent in possession, and he is also willing to fill in at centre-back when needed. He’s a solid defender, and Arsenal’s defence would be weaker without him.
5. Jordi Alba
Alba’s status has waned in recent seasons after becoming the gold standard for European left-backs. In reality, his personal actions have had as much to do with Barcelona’s demise as a true European superpower as anything else.
As seen by his seven assists in La Liga this season, the Spaniard maintains his normal combination of speed, poise, final product, and spectacular footwork. Alba is towards the twilight of his career, but his technical skill means he can still play at the highest level for a few more seasons. He continues to play an important role in Xavi’s Camp Nou revolution.
4. Jose Gaya
Jose Gaya, a Valencia academy product, has risen through the ranks to become the team’s captain at the age of 26. He made his senior debut in 2012 and has since appeared in over 250 competitive games for the club. Jose Gaya is among the top in the world with 1.7 clearances and 1.8 tackles per game. He’ll also do well in the future. Jose Gaya is now considered one of the top left-backs in the world.
3. Ferland Mendy
This season, the 26-year-old Frenchman took over as Real Madrid’s starting left defender, finally unseating Marcelo, and he has performed admirably.
Mendy is a great dribbler who can also attack down the left side of the court, and he uses his power and stature to bully opponents off the ball.
He has only made six appearances for Madrid this season after missing the start of the season, but he has completed over 97 per cent of his passes in two Champions League starts.
2. Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies has pace to burn, reportedly attaining a high speed of 35.6kmph when chasing back during a match against Armenia in February. The first Canadian to score for Bayern since Roque Santa Cruz in 1999, the energetic youth began his career on the flank for Vancouver Whitecaps. He has established himself at left-back since joining Bayern in January 2019, where his closing speed helps him press while also making him threatening in the attacking third.
1. Andrew Robertson
Andrew Robertson joined Liverpool from Hull City in 2017 for a rumoured sum of £8 million, and the Scotland international has quickly established himself as a key member of Jürgen Klopp’s team. Five years on, he’s one of the top left-backs in the world right now and has played in two Champions League finals in two years, with one medal to his name.
Even at full speed, his crossing is almost always accurate, making him an important element of Liverpool’s offence. Robertson is a terrifying presence on Liverpool’s left flank, hustling up and down the wing, delivering crushing tackles and displaying excellent positional awareness.
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