The 25 best left backs in world football - ranked

  • The role of the modern left back is constantly evolving
  • Andrew Robertson, Theo Hernandez and Alphonso Davies among the top performers in world football
  • 25 best players from around the world ranked as part of 90min's Welcome to World Class series

Image by Briony Painter
Image by Briony Painter /
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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 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.

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 as part of our 2023 Welcome to World Class series.


25. Lucas Beraldo

Lucas Beraldo
Beraldo joined PSG in the January transfer window / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

The young Brazilian joined PSG from his homeland in the January transfer window, operating as both a centre-back and left-back at the start of his career in the French capital.

Beraldo is certainly a centre-back by trade, and the role he performs when deployed at left-back is a conservative one. Still, amid a tricky acclimatisation period, the 20-year-old has shown he could be the ideal foil for Achraf Hakimi's surges on the opposite flank.


24. Emerson Palmieri

Emerson Palmieri
Emerson has enjoyed a solid season at West Ham / Visionhaus/GettyImages

West Ham may have been pretty dire in 2024, but Emerson has remained a steady performer.

Chelsea's forgotten man has enjoyed a resurgent campaign in east London, with the Italian proving to be a particularly shrewd defensive operator.


23. Alfie Doughty

Alfie Doughty
Doughty is a dynamic customer down the left flank / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

There may not be a player that symbolises Rob Edwards' plucky Luton Town more than Doughty.

The wing-back has been a revelation down the left for the Hatters, who have punched above their weight during their debut Premier League campaign. An industrious defender who's ever so dynamic in possession, Doughty is set to remain in the top flight for the long haul even if Luton succumb to the drop.


22. Antonee Robinson

Antonee Robinson
Robinson loves to fly forward / Warren Little/GettyImages

Robinson has long been regarded as a left-back with bags of talent, and there's no doubt that the American international has gone up a gear in 2023/24.

He can frustrate in the final third given the positions he gets himself in, while his penchant for an own goal is odd, but Robinson has nonetheless evolved into a stellar two-way full-back. He's streaky, but capable of locking down the Premier League's best in a one-on-one duel.


21. Cristiano Biraghi

Cristiano Biraghi of ACF Fiorentina debates with Vincenzo...
Biraghi is a Serie A stalwart / Insidefoto/GettyImages

The Serie A stalwart was once a rotation piece for Antonio Conte's Inter before evolving into Fiorentina's skipper.

The left-footed wizard loves a set-piece and a sublime technical footballer. Biraghi played a key role in Fiorentina's rise to the Conference League final in 2023, and continues to play a leading role for Vincenzo Italiano's side.


20. Andrea Cambiaso

Andrea Cambiaso
Cambiaso is somewhat of a Swiss army knife / SOPA Images/GettyImages

The versatile wing-back has functioned as a Swiss army knife for Massimiliano Allegri during his debut season at Juventus, with the antiquated head coach even utilising Cambiaso in an inverted role at the start of 2023/24, such is his unique profile.

Cambiaso will be a part of Juve's long-term future, and certainly has the capacity to shoot up this list.


19. Jose Gaya

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 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 have 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. 


18. David Raum

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.

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.


17. Luca Netz

Luca Netz
One to watch / Getty Images/GettyImages

Despite being just 20 years old, Luca Netz is already making waves thanks to his impressive performances for Borussia Monchengladbach.

Big things are expected of the youngster over in Germany.


16. Raphael Guerreiro

Raphael Guerreiro
Raphael Guerreiro is now a Bayern player / Sebastian Widmann/GettyImages

There aren't many full-backs as dynamic as Raphael Guerreiro. The diminutive Portugal international is so fun to watch. 

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.

While there are physical shortcomings, Guerreiro boasts the defensive nous to ensure such drawbacks are minimised. He's the latest Dortmund star to be pinched by Bayern Munich, with Thomas Tuchel happily using him in midfield.


15. Ben Chilwell

Ben Chilwell
Chilwell continues to be bothered by injuries / Vince Mignott/MB Media/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.

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


14. Nuno Mendes

Nuno Mendes
Title winner / Xavier Laine/GettyImages

Young Nuno Mendes endured a pretty turbulent debut campaign in Paris, often deployed in a flat back four by Mauricio Pochettino.

The Portugal international had excelled as a wing-back at Sporting CP and started the 2022/23 campaign brilliantly with Christophe Galtier switching to a back three.

Despite his youth, Mendes is a league champion in two different countries and has all the makings of a superstar. He is as explosive as they come and his pinpoint crossing ability means his output should increase soon.

However, a long-term hamstring injury means Mendes is yet to feature in 2023/24.


13. Alejandro Balde

Alejandro Balde
Balde endured a tough 2023/24 / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages

It initially appeared as if Barcelona had stumbled upon the heir to Jordi Alba's throne in Catalonia.

Young Balde was excellent in 2022/23 as Xavi's side lifted the La Liga title, but he endured a down 2023/24 campaign which ended prematurely as a result of a hamstring injury.


12. Pervis Estupinan

Pervis Estupinan
Estupinan has emerged as a crucial FPL asset / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Pervis Estupinan 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.

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.

He's been electric under Roberto De Zerbi at Brighton and has all the makings of an exceptional wing-back.


11. Samuel Lino

Samuel Lino
Lino operates as a flying wing-back for Diego Simeone's Atleti / Fran Santiago/GettyImages

Diego Simeone's Atleti have evolved into a very watchable outfit, with the Argentine drifting away from the dark arts in favour of a more progressive style.

Flying wing-back Lino has been key to their evolution, with the Brazilian almost operating as an auxiliary winger. The two-footed Lino attacks space in behind opposing defences superbly and is a frequent contributor in the final third as a result.


10. Oleksandr Zinchenko

Oleksandr Zinchenko
Zinchenko has played a less prominent role for Arsenal this season / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

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 four Premier League title wins.

His arrival at Arsenal thrust Zinchenko more into the limelight and his impact in north London was immediate. He's a leader on the field and many regard him as one of the finest technicians in the sport. However, he's reduced in prominence during his second season in north London.


9. Miguel Gutierrez

Miguel Gutierrez
Gutierrez has enjoyed a stellar season with Girona / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

The former Real Madrid defender could fins himself back in the Spanish capital soon having excelled with surprise package Girona.

Michel's ever-interchanging outfit have taken La Liga by storm, with the manager's ideals meaning Gutierrez plays the complete opposite of a conventional left-back role.

The Spaniard boasts an impressive physical profile and is comfortable operating in a variety of zones. He's arguably been La Liga's standout left-back this season.


8. Ferland Mendy

Ferland Mendy, Ousmane Dembélé
Mendy in action / Sam Hodde/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 Brazilian's long-term successor at the Bernabeu.

He has certainly shown he's capable of performing at the very highest level and has 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.


7. Luke Shaw

luke shaw
Quality / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/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.

Shaw's majestic Euros had come off the back of a brilliant season - arguably his best - at Manchester United and he is now regarded as one of the world's best left backs.

Injuries take their toll every now and then but Shaw impressed in Erik ten Hag's first season at United, often filling in well at centre back.


6. Destiny Udogie

Destiny Udogie
A quality player / Will Palmer/Allstar/GettyImages

Italian flier Destiny Udogie is the talk of the Premier League right now.

The full-back has become one of Tottenham's best players overnight, causing havoc with his burst in the final third and quality on the ball.


5. Federico Dimarco

Federico Dimarco, Giacomo Raspadori
Dimarco has scored for Italy / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

Federico Dimarco's breakout performances at left back for Inter mean the Italian club don't really know what to do with previous entrant Gosens.

His searing pace has become crucial for Simone Inzaghi and his sweet left foot is a proven threat in the attacking third. There are few better in Serie A than the Italy international, who played a key role in Inter's run to the Champions League final in 2023.


4. Andrew Robertson

Andrew Robertson
Scotland captain / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

While his stellar contemporaries have often peaked and dropped in recent years, Liverpool's Andrew 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.

Robertson plays a crucial role in ensuring the Reds are able to suffocate and dominate opponents and will hope to play a major role after returning from injury as Jurgen Klopp looks to engineer a title charge in 2023/24.


3. Alphonso Davies

Alphonso Davies
World class / Dean Mouhtaropoulos/GettyImages

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

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.

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

After starting 2023/24 superbly, his form has tailed off in the new year with talk of a Real Madrid switch starting to gather pace.


2. Alex Grimaldo

Alex Grimaldo
Grimaldo is enjoying a campaign for the ages / Rene Nijhuis/MB Media/GettyImages

Bayer Leverkusen are on course to finally dethrone Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, with Xabi Alonso's wing-backs key to their success.

While Jeremie Frimpong marauds down one flank, Grimaldo masterfully conducts his orchestra down the left. Diminutive in frame, the Spaniard is a slippery operator when he bursts down the touchline and excels when tasked with combining and rotating with those in close proximity.

He's enjoyed an individual campaign for the ages out of nowhere; ranking among Leverkusen's leading final third contributors. Suddenly, Grimaldo has to be regarded among the very best in the world at his position.


1. Theo Hernandez

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 has blossomed into a borderline superstar at AC Milan.

Theo loves to break forward from defence and is without question the most proficient ball-carrier among players at his position in world football.

The left-back has forged a deadly dynamic with Rafael Leao down the Rossoneri's left and the pair were 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.


READ MORE ON THE BEST 25 PLAYERS FOR EVERY POSITION IN WORLD FOOTBALL

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