Top 10 left-backs in football right now – Male

December 7, 2022

The fullback revolution hasn’t just been restricted to the right-backs of this world, although that is where many of these revolutionaries strut their stuff. 

Left-back was once one of those positions that was frowned upon by every player on the pitch. To call someone the best left-back was like serving them chilly dipped in jaggery. Left-back was, in fact, the spot for anyone who didn’t have any specific job in the team. 

Well, times have changed, and fullbacks are no longer football’s forgotten men. Indeed, some of the players included here are integral to the way their clubs and/or national teams set up. Not only defensively, but many of these also contribute offensively as creators, goal-scorers, set-piece takers, as jacks of all trades. 

Just like the right-backs, the rapid evolution of the sport in the 21st century has morphed the left-back position into a desirable one, bringing about a new breed of left-backs and blessing us with a myriad of stars, with each of them possessing unique traits and characteristics. 

Thus, ranking the top 10 left-backs here at SportsKhabri was no easy task. But after a lot of deliberation, I think I have a definitive list. 

So, without further ado, let’s dive into it and take a look at the top 10 left-backs in men’s football right now. 

Honourable mentions 

#15 David Raum (RB Leipzig) 

#14 Leonardo Spinazzola (AS Roma)

#13 Kieran Tierney (Arsenal FC)

#12 Raphaël Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund)

#11 José Gayà (Valencia CF) 

The top ten

#10 Jordi Alba

33 years old • FC Barcelona • Spain 

There’s no doubt Jordi Alba was one of the best left-backs of the 2010s, and his form has continued into the new decade amid a tumultuous period for Barça both on and off the pitch, with the diminutive Spaniard becoming a model of consistency. 

Alba’s attacking outputs remain superb after all these years, last season being the most productive one of his entire career. Despite his legs getting slower, he continues to wreak havoc with his overlapping runs, while his ability to make the right decision in the final third is one of those jewels that stands him apart from his contemporaries. Although his defending was questionable during his younger years, now at 33, Alba is a more well-rounded player. 

#9 Mário Rui 

31 years old • SSC Napoli • Portugal 

The 31-year-old Portugal international has turned into a vital cog in the Napoli wheel after coming through a phase where he exemplified everything wrong about the club. He has been a joy to watch down the left flank, forming a strong partnership with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. 

A strong passer of the ball with a keen vision to compliment his passing artillery, Rui also has composure when in possession with the concentration levels and tactical knowledge to go with it. Although lacking in the aerial department, he makes up for it with his sublime work both on and off the ball. 

#8 Oleksandr Zinchenko 

25 years old • Arsenal FC • Ukraine 

Having gone under the radar for so long, it finally feels like Oleksandr Zinchenko is garnering the plaudits he deserves. Although the Ukrainian plays in midfield for his national side, most of his club career has been spent playing as a left-back.

Zinchenko became the archetypal Pep Guardiola inverted fullback during his Man City days, performing such a complex role to such an elite standard at the Etihad that he left City having played the role of an unsung hero in his side’s four league titles. 

Zinchenko’s arrival at Arsenal has arguably thrust him more into the limelight, as he made his impact felt at the Emirates almost immediately. A perennial leader on the pitch, he is also regarded as one of the finest technicians in his position. 

#7 Ivan Periši? 

33 years old • Tottenham Hotspur FC • Croatia

The winger-turned-wingback has Antonio Conte to thank for his evolution into becoming one of the best wingbacks in world football. Returning to Inter Milan after conquering Europe while on loan at Bayern Munich, the Croatia international emerged perhaps as one of the unlikely but crucial parts of Conte’s 2020-21 title-winning side. 

A former winger, the now-33-year-old still hasn’t forgotten how to set up a cross or score goals with his marauding forward runs. Besides, following his reunion with Conte at Spurs, Periši? could play in key role in propelling Spurs to the next level. 

#6 Ferland Mendy 

27 years • Real Madrid CF • France

With the legendary Marcelo already on the decline, Mendy was brought in as the Brazilian’s long-term successor at the Bernabéu. Mendy was a relatively unknown player when Real Madrid signed him from French club Lyon. However, much to his credit, the Frenchman made an immediate impact upon arrival in 2019. 

The 27-year-old has shown that he is capable of performing at the very top level, as he helped Los Blancos win two LaLiga titles as well as the Champions League last season. Although it feels as if Mendy has gone under the radar due to his ever-lingering injury issues, whenever fit, he has stepped up in crunch situations. His elite mentality and complete skill-set make him one of the world’s finest left-backs. 

#5 Nuno Mendes 

20 years old • Paris Saint-Germain FC • Portugal 

While some might argue that it’s still too early to rank Nuno Mendes ahead of the likes of Jordi Alba or Ferland Mendy, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. He wreaked havoc as part of a back-four under Mauricio Pochettino, while under new coach Christophe Galtier, Mendes has started off the 2022-23 campaign in fine form as well. 

A future global star and already a two-time league champion in two different countries, Mendes is as explosive as they get and has that precise-crossing ability to complement his attacking repertoire. A relentless operator down that left flank, Mendes will only grow from here on, being the youngest player on this list. 

#4 Alphonso Davies

22 years old • FC Bayern Munich • Canada

The first wave of the COVID-19 saw Alphonso Davies take centre stage, as both he and Bayern steam-rolled their way to winning the 2019-20 Champions League title at a canter, with his performances from the left-back slot garnering praises; a large section of the football community believed Davies to be the best left-back in the world at the time. 

However, Davies’ meteoric rise was brought to a shuddering halt earlier this year when he was diagnosed with myocarditis following complications from a COVID infection. He’s back now, though, and raring to reclaim his spot as the best left-back in the world. Davies stands out in almost every single metric, while his ability to contribute both offensively and defensively constantly makes him one to keep an eye on. 

#3 Andy Robertson

28 years old • Liverpool FC • Scotland 

While most of his contemporaries have had their fair share of peaks and troughs, Andy Robertson has been the torch-bearer of consistency. Coming to Liverpool from Hull City in 2017, the now-28-year-old Scotsman has gone on to establish himself as one of the cornerstones on which Liverpool won both the Premier League and Champions League titles in recent years. 

Over the second half of last season, Robertson was arguably Liverpool’s best player on the pitch. His crossing and sharp acceleration are two of his most important attributes. He is quick, tenacious, a good passer of the ball, and also a vocal leader at the back. And it is only because of Liverpool’s struggles early on this season that he finds himself third on my list. 

#2 João Cancelo 

28 years old • Manchester City FC • Portugal 

Few players on the planet are as versatile and effective as João Cancelo at the moment. It is no mean feat to be world-class in two different positions. Man City’s No. 7 can occupy both the left- and right-back roles with equal aplomb.

Cancelo’s transfer to City from Juventus came about more as an eleventh-hour necessity, though, technically, he has proven himself to be one of the very best, despite the fact that he isn’t as effective offensively when he plays on the right, for his one-on-one defending and bags of trickery make him an unstoppable force down the left. 

Many Premier League players have gone on to say on record that Cancelo is “the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced”. As stated above, he’s good on the ball, has vision and a wide passing range, reads the game very well, and is a leader on the pitch. Truly, one of the finest. 

#1 Theo Hernández 

25 years old • AC Milan • France

Just like his compatriot Benjamin Pavard, Theo Hernández was a makeshift option at left-back for Didier Deschamps’ France national team ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. However, in the four years since, the 6ft-tall physically built Frenchman has gone on to cement himself as one of the most destructive left-backs in world football.

Hernández loves breaking lines and marauding forward with the ball at his feet. He’s the best ball carrier at his position right now, with his strong dribbling and crossing abilities wreaking havoc in the opposition final third. 

Moreover, over the last calendar year, the France international has forged a deadly partnership with Rafael Leão down the Rossoneri’s left flank, as the pair proved crucial to AC Milan’s title success in 2021-22. Hernández’s ability to attack both on the inside and the outside, with the sheer physicality that he possesses, is what sets him apart from his contemporaries.

Although people might make a case for the likes of Andy Robertson or Alphonso Davies, Theo Hernández has been in inspired form over the last 18 months, and there is no left-back in world football right now who performs and impacts games as much as he does.  

Rahul Saha

An engineer taking the road less taken. I love writing, live and breathe football, and am always up for a tactical conversation.

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