Full backs are the fortitude of any world-class team. It is not merely keeping strikers at bay, but a visionary position in which you should be able to see what the opposition is cooking in another half.
How top teams like Man City, Liverpool and Real Madrid are building from the back gives insight to the importance of great defenders. It is not an easy task to be a LB. You have to run, defend, jump, stay away from intriguing tackles, and rush forward to pass the ball.
A quality left-footed or left-sided player is a rarity. In any formation and tactics, they play an important role. They should not only stop the floodgates on the left, but they should also marshall the turf and make the earth their own.
Here are our 15 best left backs in the world right now –
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15. Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig/Germany)
The German left back, playing for RB Leipzig has been stellar for his club this season and is another modern left back with an attacking mentality. His performances make him one of the best left backs in the world right now. He is adept at playing left back as he is at left midfield and his versatility has been a blessing for his club.
Halstenberg is a no nonsense defender who loves tackling. He is quite strong in the air as well as composed on the ground. Like many of the best left backs in the world, Halstenberg loves going forward and is actually an excellent passer of the ball. He likes taking set pieces and is quite good at them too.
14. Danny Rose (Tottenham/England):
Despite all the controversies surrounding the England international in 2017/18 season, his gradual and steady progress is a commendable job.
One of the best left backs in the world right now, Rose, has shown his running, tackling, and aerial abilities. This 29 years old lad has even managed to stay away from some silly defensive errors this year.
13. Kieran Tierney (Arsenal/Scotland)
The Scotland international is one of the most promising young defenders in the game, and it comes as no surprise to see him emerge as a summer transfer target for some of the best Premier League clubs.
The left-back has spent his entire youth and professional career with the Bhoys, first joining their youth ranks bank in 2005. He then made his first-team debut ten years later, in April 2015, when he came on as a late second-half substitute in a Scottish Premiership match against Dundee.
Kieran Tierney joined Arsenal in 2019, but missed most of the first half of the season due to injury. He will be hoping to be back on the pitch soon.
12. Alex Telles (Porto/Brazil)
The uncapped Brazilian full-back arrived in the Primeira Liga from Galatasaray, and he has been exceptional ever since. He has made the Primeira Liga Team of the Season in each of the last two seasons.
Telles is a really talented all-round full-back, who is quick, creative and a fine crosser of the ball down the left, as well as being measured, astute and calm at the back. He is definitely among the best left backs in the world right now.
11. Layvin Kurzawa (PSG/France):
The 27 years old is a part-time goal scorer, has great speed, and an integral part of PSG’s league winning team. In 18/19 season, he has scored 1 goal and provided 4 assists in League 1 playing for PSG. He is a strong tackler and very energetic throughout 90 minutes.
Kurzawa could be on his way out from PSG with Arsenal and Juventus being the interested parties.
10. Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich/France):
Brilliant at neutralising his opposite number, Hernandez is strong on the tackle and tight in his marking. He’s also fairly quick and happy to put in the hard yards, but it’s his defensive solidity that ensures his inclusion.
Hernandez joined Bayern Munich on 1 July, 2019. His tackling and marking are very good. He brings solidity at the back, and quick in his feet. He broke into French national team, and under the watchful guidance of the Bayern coaching staff, he will surely climb the ladders.
9. Alex Grimaldo (Benfica/Spain)
From pace in wide positions to technical prowess during dead-ball situations, it’s very clear that Benfica have a real gem in their grasp. And the progression he has already shown in the last few years in making the left-back position his own proves that he is well worth in keeping at the Estádio da Luz.
8. Faouzi Ghoulam (Napoli/Algeria):
The 29 years old Algerian superstar is a companion to injuries but when he is fit, he bulldozes strikers. He loves to keep attackers into his pocket.
Despite being dealt with serious injuries over the last few years – a fractured kneecap and a serious sprain to his knee ligaments which led to surgery – Ghoulam is magnificent down the left-hand side of the pitch
Ghoulam is quick, tireless and a magnificent crosser of the ball. At full fitness, he is undoubtedly among the best left-backs in the world right now. He possess a tremendous long throw that can be a real weapon at times. He beat the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi to be named as the 2017 Algerian Footballer of the Year.
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7. Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid/France):
Real Madrid have got a successor of Marcelo in the form of Mendy. The 24 years old, ‘Mbappe of left-backs’ has got great tactical awareness, and he will surely be one of the hottest in Europe. The reason he is a 50 million star is his offensive and defensive qualities. When thrown alongside the world’s best, he is unfazed and has great tactical awareness.
Mendy is defensively sound and does not dive into tackles on every occasion. The left back is good with his interceptions and likes initiating counter attacks by sending long balls to his forward line. He is extremely talented on the ball and like to dribble his way up the field.
6. Lucas Digne
The Frenchman was considered excess to requirements at the Camp Nou, but since moving to the Premier League, the 25 year old have been a revelation. His performance has gathered a lot of attention and he has transformed into one of the best left backs in the world right now.
On the field, Digne is a marauding full back who is strong in defense and adventurous while venturing forward. He is quite comfortable with the ball at his feet and his crossing ability is one of his strongest points. Digne is also a good passer of the ball and has an eye for a through ball from the left. As a defender, he is proficient at blocking, intercepting opposition passes and winning the ball back.
5. Alex Sandro (Juventus/Brazil):
Sandro adds a trademark flair to his role on the pitch. He uses his speed to regularly run past the opposition and likes to join the attack as often as possible. His tackling and defensive skills are great. He is the backbone of outstanding Old Lady because of his fast forward moving qualities and defensive skills.
He is also quite proficient at dribbling his way through the left side of the field. Sandro is a very good passer of the ball and has a pass completion rate of almost 86% in average this season. With a faultless technical proficiency and speed in wide positions, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Dybala have certainly found it easier to score in the box.
4. David Alaba (Bayern Munich/Austria):
The Austrian is still wagering as one of the best left-backs in the world, despite the many injuries and setbacks he’s had to face. Arguably the best thing about his skills is that he is able to combine with the attackers and provide them with goalscoring chances.
Alaba featured in the senior side of the Austrian national team at the age of 17, which is still a record. At the age of 27, he is top of his game. There is no doubt that he will go down as one of the world’s greatest, he has proved his pedigree in every possible way. He can defend, attack, and can play in every position. Left-back, albeit, is where he is formidable. His positional awareness and instincts are great.
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3. Marcelo (Real Madrid/Brazil):
Marcelo is a legend and the greatest left-back of our times. There are so many emotions coming out at you at the same time when you write about Marcelo. His forward dash, attacking skills, free kicks, and tackles are breathtaking.
Technically superb, Marcelo’s touch rarely lets him down, and nor do his deliveries into the box. He isn’t the quickest player now, but he is a powerful runner who’s intelligent runs and ability on the ball make him a real outlet down the left flank. Defensively, Marcelo still leaves a little to be desired, although he has improved in that respect as his career has gone on.
2. Jordi Alba (Barcelona/Spain):
For Messi’s natural game and success in recent seasons, Alba was instrumental. The quick forward runs that he makes really gives Messi the ball he needs to charge forward. The reason he features in No. 2 is the edge that he has over other defenders regarding the attack. His quick, witty moves and counterattack is a terrifying prospect for the defenders.
Alba is technically brilliant, has great touches, range of passing, and a great nullifier of the opposition movements, attacks. He has the ability to intercept passes just at the right time.
1. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool/Scotland)
Current English Champions, Liverpool signed Robertson from Hull City in 2017 for a reported fee of £8m, and the Scotland international has become an integral part of Jürgen Klopp’s squad. Three years on, he’s one of the best left backs in the world right now and has played in two Champions League finals in two years, with one medal to his name.
Robbo was at his peak for the Reds last season, playing a massive role in their run to both the Champions League final and the title chase, with special mention to his performance in Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Barcelona. With Alexander-Arnold and Robertson in the team, Liverpool have got great full backs.