The role of a left-back, traditionally situated on the left flank of the field, was once synonymous with a purely defensive position, often seen as the least glamorous role on the team.
Managers sometimes didn’t hesitate to deploy the least technically gifted player, and in some cases, they weren’t even left-footed.
However, in recent times, new tactics that come with modern soccer have transformed how things are.
- Best Left-Backs In Soccer 2023
- 1. Alphonso Davies
- 2. Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal)
- 3. Theo Hernandez (AC Milan)
- 4. Alejandro Balde (Barcelona)
- 5. Nuno Mendes (PSG)
- 6. Nathan Ake
- 7. Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
- 8. Raphael Guerreiro (Bayern)
- 9. Pervis Estupiñán (Brighton)
- 10. Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid)
- Jordi Alba (Inter Miami)
Best Left-Backs In Soccer 2023
Full-backs, including left-backs, have evolved into versatile players who can seamlessly transition between defensive and attacking duties.
They often venture up and down the wings, contributing both in offense and defense.
Left-backs have reformed their roles, becoming assets capable of defending, creating, and even scoring.
So, who are the top 10 left-backs in the world?
1. Alphonso Davies
Alphonso Davies made a dazzling entry into the European football scene with his outstanding displays for Bayern Munich during their successful campaign in the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League.
The Canadian is among the most gifted young players globally and has already established himself as a world-class left-back
His teammates call him “Roadrunner” because he set a Bundesliga sprint speed record in June 2020, reaching an incredible 36.51 km/h (22.6 mph).
Davies is exceptionally fast, possibly the fastest player in the world, but there’s more to his skills than just speed.
Although he usually plays as a winger for his national team, Davies is a potent attacking force.
His dribbling and movement are of the highest quality, often overwhelming defenders when he joins Leroy Sane on Bayern’s left side.
This allows the German player to move inside and create chaos in the penalty area.
Moreover, Davies is a reliable defender, seldom losing one-on-one battles. On the rare occasion when he is beaten, his speed allows him to recover and regain possession.
2. Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal)
Mikel Arteta brought Zinchenko to Arsenal seemingly for the midfield, but he’s excelled as a left-back this season.
He picks up the ball deep and moves into the center, controlling the game with his fantastic passing.
He also provides a strong defensive foundation for Arsenal.
His stats might not show it all.
It might seem like he’s not crucial, but Zinchenko’s passes break through the lines. He sets up Odegaard perfectly between the opposition’s midfield and defense and delicately delivers to Martinelli and Saka.
Without him, Arsenal wouldn’t be where they are now.
3. Theo Hernandez (AC Milan)
Theo consistently puts up impressive numbers for AC Milan in Serie A, managing to score at least five goals and provide four assists each season from his left-back position.
It’s an open secret that the Frenchman is like a game-changer, offering a substantial advantage and serving as a valuable attacking asset for AC Milan.
As a modern-day full-back, Hernandez has a sharp instinct for timing his forward surges.
However, he’s tactically smart, has good positioning, and his defensive prowess is nothing but exceptional, making him a formidable presence in defense.
He’s not just a defender who occasionally pushes forward; he approaches his attacks with a clear purpose without neglecting his defensive duties.
His speed allows him to recover swiftly and join the attack when necessary.
4. Alejandro Balde (Barcelona)
Alejandro Balde is a rising young talent who recently made his debut for Barcelona’s senior squad.
Balde’s got great skills for building up and defending when needed, one of the best left-backs right now. Barcelona spent big last year, but Balde’s rise was as vital as any new signing.
He’s been with Barcelona since 2011, starting at just eight years old. He made his debut in 2021-22, playing 206 minutes.
But in 2022-23, he was a crucial part of the defense that only allowed 20 goals in the league.
In that season, he played 3,120 minutes in 44 matches, including 33 out of 38 in Barcelona’s successful La Liga run.
In the league, he was fourth in minutes (2,476), assists (six), expected assists (5.4), pass completions (1,283), ball recoveries (145), and tackles made (42).
5. Nuno Mendes (PSG)
Nuno Mendes is a rising star who has solidified his status as one of the world’s premier left-backs.
He currently plies his trade at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and has gained recognition for his explosive style of play, excelling in both offensive and defensive roles.
Despite his young age, he has already secured two league titles in different nations, underscoring his immense promise.
His lightning-fast pace and outstanding defensive abilities make him a formidable presence on the left side of the field.
6. Nathan Ake
Is Ake naturally a left-back? The short answer is NO.
Ake fulfills all the requirements Guardiola has for what essentially amounts to a left-center back. He’s reliable in building up play, and although City’s defenders don’t have to intervene often, he does so when needed, in a clean and efficient manner.
He excels in one-on-one situations on the ground and in the air, and his passing abilities match those of any defender.
In the 2020-21 season, he carved out a role primarily for “domestic cups and Champions League group stage” matches, tallying 27 appearances and 1,746 minutes.
However, in the 2022-23 season, he solidified his place in the first team: he played in 26 Premier League matches, eight Champions League matches (including four in the knockout stages), and a total of 41 matches, accumulating 2,892 minutes.
He had the most touches and pass attempts in City’s Champions League final victory over Inter.
He started at the bottom of a highly competitive hierarchy in Manchester and ascended to the top in just two years.
7. Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
Jose Mourinho once said, “Looking at Robertson makes me tired.” Even though Liverpool had a tough season, the Scottish full-back still showed his energy.
He always gives 100%.
As Scotland’s captain, Robertson might have the best delivery.
His crosses are spot-on even when he sprints.
He’s quick and can keep it up for 90 minutes. He’s key for Jurgen Klopp, and don’t forget Trent Alexander-Arnold, his fellow attacker on the flank, is just as scary.
At the club level, Robertson won the Premier League, FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and UEFA Champions League.
He was also in the PFA Team of the Year in 2019.
8. Raphael Guerreiro (Bayern)
Attacking full-backs has become a real sensation in top-tier football lately, and Guerreiro, who’s more like a left-midfielder than a left-back, was a trailblazer in this.
He managed to score six goals and provide three assists out of 27 chances created in the 2016-17 season.
In his last five league seasons, he consistently scored a minimum of four goals four times, delivered at least six assists on three occasions, and created at least 38 chances four times.
In the 2022-23 season, Guerreiro achieved a personal best with 12 league assists and 58 chances created.
Even though he’s approaching 30 years of age, he might be playing the best football of his career.
He was impactful in Borussia Dortmund’s 2018-19 and 2022-23 teams, which came extremely close to ending Bayern’s lengthy Bundesliga title streak but narrowly missed out.
Now, that he’s a Bavarian, providing Bayern and manager Thomas Tuchel with two of the world’s top left-backs
9. Pervis Estupiñán (Brighton)
He’s a prime example of Roberto De Zerbi’s magic touch.
The 25-year-old Ecuadorian national went from being a good player at Villarreal to becoming even better at Brighton under Graham Potter, but it was De Zerbi who really elevated his game.
Now, he’s counted among the world’s finest left-backs, known for his high intensity, boundless energy, attacking skills, and defensive tenacity.
His link-up with Kaoru Mitoma and Levi Colwill has proven too hot to handle in multiple games last season as the seagulls made European football.
Under the guidance of the Italian manager, he honed all his attributes, and his performances soared, particularly following the World Cup, where his journey ended in disappointment with a group stage exit.
10. Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid)
Filling Marcelo’s shoes is a daunting task, one you wouldn’t wish on anyone.
However, Mendy has proved that he has the qualities to contribute to Real Madrid’s transition into a new era.
While he may not possess the magic of Real Madrid’s former no.12, he compensates for that with his defensive smarts and exceptional physical prowess.
Mendy is incredibly fast and has a good understanding of the game.
His area for improvement lies in the attacking aspect of his play, especially when it comes to his crossing ability. Nevertheless, when it comes to defending, there are few who can match him on this list.
Jordi Alba (Inter Miami)
Jordi Alba has firmly established himself as one of the top left-backs in the world, thanks to his career with Barcelona and the Spanish national team. His reputation is built on his incredible speed, pinpoint passing, and precise crossing, all consistently on display throughout his career.
Over the years, Alba has accumulated a wealth of major trophies with Barcelona, including multiple league titles and Champions League victories.
His exceptional displays have also earned him a substantial number of international caps, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest left-backs in the history of the sport. He still puts up his skill at Inter Miami.
Other Best Left-Backs In The World
- Luke Shaw
- Ben Chilwell
- Jose Gaya
- Marcos Acuña
- Kieran Tierney
- Philipp Max
- Joakim Maehle