Connect with us

Updates

The 25 best left backs in world football

Published

on


The full back revolution hasn’t merely been restricted to the right side of the pitch. Although, that is where many of the tagged revolutionaries strut their stuff.

Being deployed at left back was once an insult; it’s where you’d likely see the worst player on the team attempt to impress if you strolled down to your local playing fields on a Sunday morning. It was a position that nobody wanted to play.

However, the rapid evolution of the sport in the 21st century has morphed the left back position into a desirable one. It’s an incredibly demanding function with modern-day tactical obsessives trying their utmost to complicate the role as much as they can. Thanks, Pep. 

Advertisement

But their work has brought about a new breed of left back and we’re now blessed with a myriad of stars in that position. 

Ranking the top 25 left backs in the world is no easy task, but here’s our attempt at doing exactly that.

Pervis Estupinan

Estupinan is a new arrival at Brighton / Chloe Knott – Danehouse/GettyImages

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but our ranking begins with Brighton new boy Pervis Estupinan. 

The left back made a name for himself while out on loan at Osasuna in La Liga during the COVID-hit 2019/20 campaign. Estupinan assisted five times in the league that season as his precise delivery and proactive defensive style became revered in Spain.

Advertisement

The Ecuadorian is an incredibly energetic full back who excels in all phases of play. He’s an excellent dribbler and proved while playing in the Champions League with Villarreal that he can perform to a borderline elite level in high-pressure moments.

Estupinan has all the makings of an exceptional wing back, and there’s no doubt Roberto De Zerbi will maximise his potential at the Amex.

Philipp Max

Max features in the Eredivisie / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Philipp Max is one of Europe’s most productive left backs from an attacking sense, but the fact that he no longer competes in one of the continent’s premier divisions has undoubtedly damaged his stock.

Max starred in the Bundesliga with Augsburg – registering 12 assists in 2017/18 and 14 goal contributions in 2019/20 – before he opted to join PSV in 2020. 

Advertisement

Max scored five times and added 13 assists in his debut Eredivisie campaign, but has struggled with minor knocks more recently.

Joakim Maehle

Maehle is a star for Denmark / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Joakim Maehle was one of the protagonists in Denmark’s unforgettable Euro 2020 journey and anyone would think the Dane is among the world’s best at his position if his international form was anything to go by.

Maehle is distinctly talented and his skill set, which includes astute off-the-ball movement, supreme athleticism and an infectious tenacity, appears tailor-made for Gian Piero Gasperini’s high-octane system at Atalanta.

However, Maehle is yet to hit the heights he so often reaches for the national team in Bergamo.

Advertisement
Marcos Acuna

Acuna has Champions League experience / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

Bullish Argentine Marcos Acuna has been a staple at Sevilla for the past three years. He has done an apt job of replacing Sergio Reguilon, who starred during his loan spell in Seville, without matching the Spaniard’s impressive output during the 2019/20 campaign.

Acuna’s relatively small attacking output is somewhat of a surprise given that he broke onto the scene in Argentina with Racing Club as a left-sided midfielder.

Nevertheless, the Argentine is a physically robust defender who is one of Sevilla’s primary ball-progressors in possession. He’s a sound technician who can play in tight spaces, while he’s also adept at playing over longer distances. Acuna can split defensive lines with his passes and bypass opponents with his dribbling. 

Overall, Acuna’s a fine left back and one of the best that La Liga has to offer.

Advertisement
Angelino

Angelino in action for Hoffenheim / Simon Hofmann/GettyImages

Julian Nagelsmann coaxed every ounce of potential out of Jesse Pinkm– sorry, Angelino during his stint at RB Leipzig. The Spaniard had struggled to settle after joining Manchester City in 2013 before he arrived in Saxony seven years later on an initial loan.

The once-outcasted Spaniard thrived in Nagelsmann’s proactive and vertical three-back system which allowed him to function as a wing back. This allowed Angelino’s forward-thinking instincts to manifest as he scored four times and added four assists in his first full Bundesliga campaign.

He continued to be productive following Nagelsmann’s departure, but he’s since made the switch to Hoffenheim. Angelino’s attacking talents see him make this list because he leaves plenty to be desired going the other way.

Renan Lodi

Lodi was at Atletico Madrid before joining Forest / James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

Nottingham Forest produced a bit of a coup to sign Atletico Madrid left back Renan Lodi on loan in the summer of 2022.

Advertisement

Lodi performed at the highest level for Atleti and his performance against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Champions League last season garnered plenty of plaudits.

Admittedly, he has suffered from consistency issues over the past two years after he starred during his debut season in La Liga. Lodi’s a diligent and proactive defender who loves to contribute with the ball and he’s now probably better suited to a wing back role.

He’s shown his attacking quality early in his loan spell with Forest as they look to avoid relegation.

FC Internazionale v Salernitana - Serie A

Gosens is an attacking threat / Pier Marco Tacca/GettyImages

Gian Piero Gasperini’s idiosyncratic system got the very best out of the powerful Robin Gosens. Swift rotations and interchanges meant the German left wing back often found himself behind the opposition’s defence and his output in Bergamo was staggering as a result. 

Advertisement

Gosens contributed to 32 Serie A goals over two seasons between 2019 and 2021 as La Dea established themselves as Europe’s supreme entertainers. Atalanta’s demise coincided with the German’s injury woes, and he’s since moved to Inter.

Ivan Perisic’s stellar form meant he rarely featured for the Nerazzurri, but he’ll surely play a big role for Simone Inzaghi’s side moving forward.

Sergio Reguilon, Emerson Royal

Reguilon struggled at Tottenham / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

There was a point where Sergio Reguilon was considered among the very best left backs. The slight Spaniard’s stock was at an all-time high off the back of Sevilla’s impressive Europa League triumph in 2020 and his Tottenham career started off on the right foot.

Reguilon was among Spurs’ best performers under Jose Mourinho and his energy down the left flank meant he was well-liked among the Lilywhite faithful.

Advertisement

However, the appointment of Antonio Conte altered Reguilon’s fortunes in north London. While he has plenty of admirable attributes, his indecisiveness and inefficiency in the final third are distinct downsides. And given his lack of stature, he’s certainly not your typical Conte wing back. 

Ryan Sessegnon and Ivan Perisic have since usurped Reguilon in the depth chart, but there’s no doubt the Spaniard can thrive in the right system and environment.

Luke Shaw

Shaw is a regular again for Man Utd / Visionhaus/GettyImages

When Luke Shaw latched onto Kieran Trippier’s teasing delivery to open the scoring in the Euro 2020 final, it was the culmination of the left back’s impressive resurgence having previously been written off at a club level. 

Shaw’s majestic Euros had come off the back of a brilliant season – arguably his best – at Manchester United and he was regarded by many at the time as one of the world’s best left backs. 

Advertisement

However, Shaw’s fortunes have once again taken a turn. His form took a slide and injuries hampered his 2021/22 campaign. The left back has started well under new boss Erik ten Hag, but there’s plenty of work to be done yet.

David Raum

Raum has enjoyed a quick rise to the top / Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

David Raum is a relentless supplier of goals.

Following a superb campaign with Greuther Furth in the German second tier, Raum would enjoy an assist-laden season with Hoffenheim before again moving to RB Leipzig.

Raum is a versatile defender who can function in a variety of systems, but he’s undoubtedly at his most effective when he’s given the freedom to advance into the final third.

Advertisement

He’s one of the best attacking left backs in the world, but he does have a couple of defensive drawbacks, including his ability in one-v-one situations.

Marc Cucurella

Cucurella impressed at Brighton before joining Chelsea / Severin Aichbauer/GettyImages

Marc Cucurella’s rise from Jose Bordelas’ workhorse at Getafe to £60m defender has been swift. The Spaniard excelled as a centre back, full back, and wing back for Graham Potter at Brighton and his stellar form convinced Chelsea to pay a mammoth fee for his services this summer.

Cucurella, in short, is a pest. He’s so tough to play against. Not only is he tenacious out of possession, but he’s so crafty on the ball, too. The Barcelona academy graduate bypasses pressure for fun and it’s easy to see why Pep Guardiola was intent on signing him before Chelsea swooped.

He’s got a great head of hair, too, contrary to what Cristian Romero thinks.

Advertisement
Kieran Tierney

Tierney is brilliant when fit / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Injuries have disrupted Kieran Tierney’s spell at Arsenal, but there’s no doubt he’s one of the world’s best left backs when fit and firing. 

The flying Scotsman was once Arsenal’s primary creative source under Mikel Arteta before the Gunners diversified their work in the final third.

Despite his injury woes, Tierney remains a powerful athlete who loves to maraud up and down the left flank. The Scot is an effective overlapper who can deliver a variety of crosses into the box. His output in north London hasn’t been staggering, but his efficacy has been distinct. 

Tierney’s availability – or lack thereof – means he doesn’t quite break our top ten left backs, but his talent and work ethic mean he’s certainly knocking on the door.

Advertisement
Leonardo Spinazzola

Spinazzola had a brilliant Euro 2020 before getting injured / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

Leandro Spinazzola played such a key role in Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph despite picking up a devastating Achilles injury in the Azzurri’s quarter-final triumph over Belgium.

The overlapping runs of the flying left back were crucial to Roberto Mancini’s possession structure, and his reputation soared in the aftermath of the tournament as Italy eventually prevailed. 

There are fears he won’t quite be as destructive as he was pre-injury, but he’s still building his way back to the top under Jose Mourinho at Roma.

Bundesliga"Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern München"

Guerreiro is electric at Dortmund / ANP/GettyImages

There aren’t many full backs as dynamic as Borussia Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro. The diminutive Portugal international is so fun to watch. 

Advertisement

In comparison to his contemporaries, Guerreiro stands out with his efficient work in the final third but he’s also an exceptional ball-carrier. He’s the epitome of a modern-day full back with his positivity in possession crucial in ensuring Dortmund get up the pitch. 

While there are physical shortcomings, Guerreiro boasts the defensive nous to ensure such drawbacks are minimised. He’s a shrewd defender, but it’s his stellar attacking work that helps him into our top ten left backs in the world.

Ben Chilwell

Chilwell loves a goal from defence / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Questions were raised over Ben Chilwell’s viability as a £50m full back when Chelsea signed him from Leicester in 2020. His senior career had started brightly at the King Power, but there’s no doubt that the Blues were taking a big financial risk.

However, he quickly took to life in west London and his game was taken to another level after Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as Chelsea boss in January 2021.

Advertisement

The England international loves a niggle, however, and seems to run into a fitness issue whenever he builds up some momentum.

Jordi Alba

Alba has been a mainstay at Barcelona / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

David Alaba this, Marcelo that. No. Jordi Alba was the left back of the 2010s. Although, we’re open to debate.

Alba’s form has continued into the new decade and amid a tumultuous period for Barcelona, both on and off the field, the diminutive Spaniard has been a model of consistency. 

His attacking output remains superb and last season was the most productive of his entire La Liga career as he notched 12 goal contributions. Alba continues to wreak havoc on the overlap and his ability to make the right decision in the final third is unerringly impressive. 

Advertisement
Valencia CF v RCD Mallorca - LaLiga Santander

Gaya is Valencia’s captain / Aitor Alcalde Colomer/GettyImages

Jose Gaya is one of those guys who has long been respected and he often crops up in rankings just like this. 

The Spaniard has been a consistent performer amid a tumultuous period for Valencia and if it wasn’t for the perpetual brilliance of Jordi Alba, he certainly would’ve earned more caps for the national team. 

Gaya is revered for his attacking prowess and his energy down the left is infectious. He’s been Valencia’s best player for quite some time now and has served as their skipper since Dani Parejo’s 2020 departure. 

Silva Duarte Mario Rui

Rui is running things at Napoli / Francesco Scaccianoce/GettyImages

There was a time when Mario Rui summed up everything wrong with Napoli. However, he’s turned into a vital attacking presence down the left, forming a fun partnership with speedster Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

Advertisement

Napoli often attack down the left and Rui can be counted on for defensive resilience and good delivery from out wide.

Oleksandr Zinchenko

Zinchenko has made an excellent start at Arsenal / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

Underrated for so long, it finally feels like Oleksandr Zinchenko is garnering the plaudits he deserves. The Ukraine international stars for the national team as a midfielder, but the vast majority of supporters regard Zinchenko as an archetypal Pep Guardiola inverted full-back.

He performed such a complex function to an incredibly high standard at the Etihad as he perpetually played an unsung role in City’s four Premier League title wins. 

His arrival at Arsenal has arguably thrust Zinchenko more into the limelight and his impact in north London has been immediate. He’s a leader on the field, while many regard him as one of the finest technicians in the sport.

Advertisement
Ivan Perisic

Perisic has transformed into a tireless wing back / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Ivan Perisic has Antonio Conte to thank for his evolution into one of the world’s finest left wing backs. Initially unconvinced by Perisic’s suitability to his 3-5-2 system at Inter, Conte oversaw Perisic’s loan to Bayern Munich for the 2019/20 season.

Returning as a champion of Europe, the Croat emerged as a perhaps unlikely but nonetheless crucial part of Conte’s Scudetto-winning Nerazzurri outfit in 2020/21. The wing back whisperer worked his magic once more with Perisic as the Croatian international notched nine Serie A goal contributions. 

Perisic has since re-united with Conte at Spurs and his impact in north London could take the Lilywhites to the next level.

Ferland Mendy

Mendy has succeeded Marcelo at Real Madrid / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

After starring in Ligue 1 with Lyon, Mendy departed for Real Madrid in 2019 and made an immediate impact. With stalwart Marcelo on the decline, the Frenchman was signed to be the majestic Brazilian’s long-term successor at the Bernabeu.

Advertisement

He has certainly shown that he’s capable of performing at the very highest level and he’s had a hand in two La Liga title wins as well as Los Blancos’ most recent Champions League triumph.

Mendy has almost gone under the radar for Real in the past couple of years with his domestic minutes limited by injuries. But he’s stepped up when it has mattered most, and his well-rounded skill set means he’s one of the most complete left backs in the world.

Nuno Mendes

Mendes is an exciting young talent / Octavio Passos/GettyImages

Is it too early to place Nuno Mendes above the likes of Mendy and Alba? We don’t think so. He’s that good.

Like Achraf Hakimi, young Mendes endured a pretty turbulent debut campaign in Paris as he was often deployed in a flat back four by Mauricio Pochettino. The Portuguese international had excelled as a wing back at Sporting CP, and he’s started the 2022/23 campaign off brilliantly with Christophe Galtier switching to a back three.

Advertisement

Despite his youth, Mendes is a two-time league champion in two different countries, and he has all the makings of a superstar. He is as explosive as they come, and his pinpoint crossing ability means his output should explode this season with Galtier giving Mendes more of a chance to showcase his majestic offensive repertoire. 

He’s relentless down the left flank and he’ll certainly complement PSG’s star-studded front line with his marauding runs and astute decision-making.

Andrew Robertson

Robertson is tireless in Liverpool’s defence / James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

While his stellar contemporaries have often peaked and troughed in recent years, Liverpool’s Andy Robertson has been as consistent as they come.

Signed from Hull for a modest fee in 2017, Robertson has gone on to establish himself as one of the protagonists in a side that has won both the Premier League and Champions League in the past three years.

Advertisement

Robertson has notched double-digit assist hauls in three Premier League seasons and he plays a crucial role in ensuring the Reds are able to suffocate and dominate opponents, which they so often do.

Alphonso Davies

Davies is absolutely rapid / Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

As Bayern Munich were crowned champions of Europe in 2020, Alphonso Davies was on top of the world with many regarding the likeable Canadian as the best left back on the planet.

However, Davies’ rise was brought to a shuddering halt earlier this year as he was diagnosed with myocarditis following complications with COVID-19. He’s back now, though, and he’s looking to reclaim his status as the world’s premier left back. 

He stands out in almost every statistical category. He relentlessly contributes in the final third, aids Bayern’s ability to progress the ball down the left, and he can dominate defensively.

Advertisement

Davies is physically imposing and one of the quickest players in world football. His recovery running is something to behold.

Theo Hernandez

Hernandez has everything a modern full back needs / SOPA Images/GettyImages

6’0 tall and built like a brick you know what, Theo Hernandez is currently the most destructive left back in world football. The Frenchman, who flashed his talent while at Real Sociedad, has blossomed into a borderline superstar at AC Milan.

Theo loves to break forward from defence and he’s, without question, the most proficient ball-carrier among players at his position in world football – just check out his goal against Atalanta last season amid Milan’s Scudetto charge. 

The left back has forged a deadly dynamic with Rafael Leao down the Rossoneri’s left and the pair were absolutely pivotal to their title success in 2021/22. Theo can attack on the inside and outside, with the sheer power he possesses often enough to overwhelm opponents.

Advertisement

While many would argue that Robertson is the most complete left back in the world, Theo’s scintillating form over the past 18 months just can’t be overlooked. He’s the best left back on the planet.



Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Updates

Lionel Messi reacts to Argentina reaching World Cup knockouts

Published

on


Argentina superstar Lionel Messi has claimed that his missed penalty in Wednesday night’s crunch World Cup win over Poland ended up galvanising the team and was on course for victory as soon as Alexis Mac Allister broke the deadlock.

La Albiceleste, one of the pre-tournament favourites, were in danger of a shock group stage elimination ahead of kick-off and had it all to play for against Robert Lewandowski’s Poland.

When Lionel Scaloni’s team were awarded a first half penalty and Messi stepped up, it looked as though it would be business as usual. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was looking to score in a seventh consecutive Argentina appearance, something he had never done before. But Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was equal to his spot-kick and confidently palmed the ball away.

Advertisement

“Having missed the penalty, the team came out stronger from that,” Messi told TyC Sports.

“The team was convinced that we were going to win, it was a matter of the first one coming in. Once we scored the goal, the game was going to be played the way we wanted.”

After Mac Allister found the key first goal, Julian Alvarez eventually got the second.

Neither Alvarez nor Enzo Fernandez, who assisted the second goal, had started either of the first two games. Yet they came in to make a critical impact. Mac Allister, meanwhile, hadn’t featured in the opening defeat to Saudi Arabia, before starting back-to-back wins.

Advertisement

Messi went on to praise the ‘strength of this group’ which makes that possible.

“We said it from the beginning. The players who come in know what they have to do and are always fully prepared. It is the strength of this group, the union and that when a player has to, he responds,” the 35-year-old explained.

With the group stage now over, Argentina will face a plucky Australia side that qualified from a very challenging Group D ahead of Denmark. That game will be played on Saturday.

“We know it’s going to be very tough,” Messi assessed.

Advertisement

Harry Symeou hosts Jack Gallagher and Toby Cudworth to look back on Germany ’06 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!



Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Updates

Minnesota United make Joseph Rosales loan permanent

Published

on


Minnesota United have announced the permanent signing of midfielder Joseph Rosales from Panama’s CA Independiente.

Rosales returns to Allianz Field following a loan spell starting in August 2021, with the Honduras international notching five primary assists in 35 appearances so far across all competitions.

MNUFC have signed Rosales on a deal through the 2023 MLS season with further options on 2024 and 2025.

Advertisement

Rosales returns to a Minnesota United side enjoying a four-year in the MLS Cup Playoffs under Adrian Heath, though the Loons have exited in the first round three times.

The 22-year-old will continue to compete for a starting spot in the MNUFC midfield alongside the likes of Kervin Arriaga and Wil Trapp.

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.



Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Updates

Atlanta United sign former Columbus Crew forward Derrick Etienne Jr via free agency

Published

on


Atlanta United have bolstered their attacking options with the signing of winger Derrick Etienne Jr via free agency, the club announced Wednesday.

As reported by 90min, the Five Stripes have been pursuing a deal with Etienne since mid-November, with the forward having already spent time at the club’s training facilities.

That deal was finally completed on Wednesday as Etienne was unveiled on a contract through the 2025 MLS season with further options on 2026 and 2027.

Advertisement

“Derrick is a versatile winger who fits the profile of a player we were looking to bring in,” Atlanta United vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a club press release.

“We’re excited to secure his services as he was a top free agent coming off an excellent season and heading into the prime of his career. Derrick has a great mentality, knows the league well and we are looking forward to him being a big part of the team going forward.”

Etienne is entering his eighth season as an MLS player, notching 17 goals and 17 assists in 148 appearances so far for the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew so far.

His spell with the latter was particularly fruitful, winning MLS Cup and Campeones Cup titles, while the 26-year-old enjoyed a career-best return of nine goals and six assists in 33 regular season appearances in 2022.

Advertisement

Etienne – who is also capable of playing through the middle – will now compete for places in Atlanta United’s forward line alongside the likes of Luiz Araujo and Edwin Mosquera as the club look to return to the MLS Cup Playoffs in head coach Gonzalo Pineda’s second full season in charge.

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.



Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending

Home
Live Scores
Use App
Live TV
Predictions