The 25 best left wingers in world football - ranked

  • Some of the best players in the world play on the left wing
  • Kylian Mbappe, Vinicius Junior and Marcus Rashford 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 /

Football was once a simple game. The ball used to get booted out to the skilled wingers who did their thing and crossed a ball or two for a big target man to head home.

The left winger has come in different shapes and sizes down the years, from the silky Brazilian iteration to the direct Englishman. Such variation in profile has only been amplified in the modern day, with the roles these players perform utterly dependent on the system in which they're involved.

Being a left winger in this day and age isn't as black and white as it once was. Still, these players seek to entertain the masses and the game is currently blessed with a plethora of talent in the position.

Here are our top 25 left wingers in the world as part of our 2023 Welcome to World Class series.

25. Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling
Sterling joined Chelsea after starring for Man City / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Raheem Sterling certainly hasn't been short of critics throughout his career, but the England international has persistently produced for both club and country.

Sterling's craft was refined by Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta at Manchester City, with the coaching tandem helping him mature and evolve into one of the best wingers in the world. Sterling is adept off both flanks but was at his very best for City while functioning as an inverted winger off the left.

The four-time Premier League winner hasn't set the world alight at Stamford Bridge, but he's nonetheless produced a couple of standout performances in his second season at Chelsea.

24. Timo Werner

Timo Werner
Werner has enjoyed a bright start to his Tottenham career / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Timo Werner saw his reputation take a huge hit as a result of a profligate spell at Chelsea.

His return to RB Leipzig failed to facilitate a stock increase, with the German joining Tottenham on an initial short-term loan in January. Signed to provide cover while Son Heung-min was at the Asian Cup, Werner enjoyed a bright start to his career in north London.

His searing speed remains a distinct threat.

23. Karim Adeyemi

Karim Adeyemi
A fun player to watch / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

Karim Adeyemi may be the fastest man on the planet and he's also not a bad footballer.

The youngster won the Bundesliga Rookie of the Season award last year in what was a breakout campaign at Borussia Dortmund.

His 2023/24 season was quieter and he was guilty of missing some huge chances for BVB in their Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, but his potential remains sky-high.

22. Noa Lang

Dutch EredivisiePSV Eindhoven v Almere City FC
Lang is an exciting talent stifled by injuries this season / ANP/GettyImages

It was a stop-start season for Noa Lang, who had been bothered by a recurring hamstring injury.

Nevertheless, the Dutchman has the makings of a superstar should he shake off his fitness woes.

His start to the campaign was electric and his exuberant PSV Eindhoven side will only become more exciting once the dynamite winger returns to full fitness.

21. Neymar

Neymar Jr.
There are few better in world football than Neymar / Pedro Vilela/GettyImages

Neymar is no longer the kid who broke the internet all those years ago during his time at Santos but he's a footballer who continues to put a smile on the faces of adoring supporters.

His record-breaking move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona in 2017 somewhat thrust Neymar out of the limelight from a domestic perspective, with the vast majority of fans judging the Brazilian's legacy from his performances in the Champions League.

Many will point to PSG's absence of a European crown in their Galacticos era, but Neymar's scintillating run to the 2020 final shouldn't be overlooked. Had PSG beaten Bayern in Lisbon, Neymar's efforts would have gone down as one of the best individual campaigns in the competition's history.

The Brazilian's struggles with injury mean he's missed plenty of action in recent years and his career is in danger of fizzling out with Al Hilal.

20. Sadio Mane

Abha Club v Al-Nassr - Saudi Pro League
Mane now plays in the Saudi Pro League / Yasser Bakhsh/GettyImages

Sadio Mane can score a variety of goals and his killer instinct has made him prolific in the box. He's always in the right place at the right time but there's a genius to his craft.

Mane's movement is superb, while the expert timing of his runs always optimises the possibility of successfully getting in behind a defence.

Things didn't work out at Bayern, but his time at Liverpool was legendary. Now at Al Nassr, Mane has drifted out of the limelight.

19. Anthony Gordon

Anthony Gordon
Gordon is always passionate / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Newcastle have two enticing options on the left wing in Anthony Gordon and Harvey Barnes, but it's the former Everton star who has made the position his own in 2023/24.

The England international has always been a threat for a hamstrung Magpies side and has kicked on at St James' Park after his breakout performances on Merseyside.

18. Savio

Juanpe, Savio Moreira de Oliveira
Savio will join Man City in the summer / Diego Souto/GettyImages

Michel's Girona were one of the stories of the season - even if they are owned by the City Football Group - and Savio was a star operator as the blistering spark down their left flank.

The teenager is an archetypal Brazilian winger who uses his innate flair to dazzle. Having starred in La Liga - on loan from Troyes, for whom he's never appeared - Savio will join Man City ahead of the 2024/25 season.

17. Mikel Oyarzabal

Mikel Oyarzabal
Oyarzabal has excited crowds in Spain / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages

Mikel Oyarzabal seems to be one of those players who, despite having the talent and opportunity, may not get a go at one of Europe's top sides.

That's not a major shock considering the strong identity his club Real Sociedad have. After joining from Eibar way back in 2011, La Real remain the only senior club team he has ever played for.

Oyarzabal is a versatile attacker who has posted promising numbers throughout his career, also scoring 11 times for the Spanish national team.

16. Kaoru Mitoma

Kaoru Mitoma
Mitoma is an expert dribbler / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

The dribbling theologist has studied his way to football stardom.

His university work undoubtedly played a huge role in his easy-on-the-eye style, with Kaoru Mitoma emerging as a one-on-one phenom since joining Brighton in 2021.

The Japan international eventually starred for the Seagulls after returning from a loan in Belgium and is seen as the next Brighton star who'll garner a monster fee when he decides to take the next step. A long list of clubs will be queuing up to sign him.

15. Alejandro Garnacho

Alejandro Garnacho
Garnacho scored the goal of the season at Goodison Park / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

The bleach-haired Argentine has shown his adeptness down the right flank this term, but Alejandro Garnacho's breakthrough came while stationed on the left.

The youngster plays with a fearless swagger and is always willing to take on his opposing full-back one-v-one. He's been a breath of fresh air during a tumultuous period at Old Trafford, with his stunning overhead kick at Goodison Park well worthy of the Puskas Award.

14. Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford
Rashford has been inconsistent in recent years / Michael Steele/GettyImages

When Marcus Rashford burst onto the scene with a brace against Arsenal on his Premier League debut, he seemed destined for superstardom.

He was soon an England international and in three consecutive seasons he scored at least ten times in the Premier League.

Rashford's form dipped considerably, but the arrival of Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford saw him galvanised. Rashford is brilliant at getting in behind defences and is a devastating finisher.

His 2022/23 season was sensational, but 2023/24 was certainly a major disappointment.

13. Jeremy Doku

Jeremy Doku
Dynamite Doku / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Choatic and free-spirited, Jeremy Doku is arguably the antithesis of an ideal Pep Guardiola winger.

The Belgian teased his explosive brilliance at Euro 2020 before returning to mainstream prominence after signing for the Cityzens. The all-conquering Cityzens are laden with controllers and retainers, even out wide, but Doku is an absolute game-breaker from the touchline.

There may not be a superior one-v-one winger in the world.

12. Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish
Grealish endured a dip in 2023/24 but still won a league title / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Jack Grealish was set up to fail when Manchester City paid £100m for his services in 2021 but he started to prove his doubters wrong with some encouraging displays.

The former Aston Villa captain eventually found a regular spot on the left wing as City stormed to the treble in 2022/23, but he was shunted to the bench for the majority of the subsequent campaign.

11. Luis Diaz

Diaz has quickly endeared himself to Liverpool fans / OLI SCARFF/GettyImages

Luis Diaz has looked tailor-made for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool ever since the Reds swooped for the Colombia international in January 2022.

Playing high up the pitch with an eye on getting in behind, Diaz endured an injury-hit first full season at Anfield but still showed he has everything required to be a hit on Merseyside.

The Colombian is an incredibly exciting winger to watch and will continue to thrive at Anfield now Klopp has departed.

10. Nico Williams

Nico Williams
Big talent / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Yet another young Spanish wide player, Nico Williams is a delightful winger to watch.

A regular for Athletic Club, the youngster is thoroughly impressing week in, week out in La Liga and was one of the stars of the early stages of Euro 2024.

A big move beckons in the summer.

9. Leandro Trossard

Leandro Trossard
Trossard started brightly at Arsenal / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Not much was made of Leandro Trossard's Brighton arrival in 2019 and he went under the radar for much of his time on the south coast.

The Belgium international became a key figure at the AMEX under Graham Potter and then Roberto De Zerbi, catching Arsenal's attention with some influential displays.

He played a supporting role in his first half-season with the Gunners in their second-place Premier League finish but still contributed a whopping ten assists purely in their colours. The Belgian has continued to produce clutch moments for Arteta's title hopefuls.

8. Diogo Jota

Diogo Jota
Jota is a proven goalscorer / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

Injuries have hampered Diogo Jota in recent seasons, but there's no doubting he guarantees goals when fit.

The Portugal internationl may be the most natural finisher on the books at Liverpool and, when you consider they have Mohamed Salah, that's really saying something.

The forward stepped up for the Reds in Salah's absence at the start of 2024 before being struck down again by a fitness concern.

7. Kingsley Coman

Kingsley Coman
Coman is a serial winner / Markus Gilliar - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

The perpetually injured Kingsley Coman has never been able to catch a break, with knocks often striking at the cruellest of times for the Frenchman.

Coman is not a major producer in the final third and poor decision-making has always prevented him from reaching the heights of some of his teammates.

Nevertheless, Coman is one of the most prolific dribblers in the world and his ability to create separation in one-v-one situations is second to none. While he usually performs an inverted function off the left, Coman's more than capable of occupying the touchline and beating his man on the outside.

6. Gabriel Martinelli

Gabriel Martinelli
Martinelli is a star at Arsenal / Robin Jones/GettyImages

Gabriel Martinelli is one of the very few good things to come out of the Unai Emery era at Arsenal.

The winger was signed from Brazilian minnows Ituano to little fanfare in 2018 but showed during his debut season in England the Gunners might have stumbled upon a diamond in the rough.

In an exciting attack alongside Kai Havertz and Bukayo Saka, Martinelli has emerged as one of the Premier League's biggest goal threats with his direct running and stellar ball-striking with both feet helping him score all sorts of goals.

5. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

Kvaratskhelia is a joy to watch / ALBERTO PIZZOLI/GettyImages

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has garnered the 'Kvaradona' tag since joining Napoli and for good reason.

The Georgian superstar's direct running, instinctive nature and penchant for entertaining have seen him immediately emerge as a fan favourite. He's an incredibly exciting winger to watch, with his unpredictability and variation in possession being distinct factors in his meteoric rise.

Kvaratskhelia led Serie A for assists in 2022/23 (10) and also netted 12 times during Napoli's title-winning campaign. 2023/24 was tough for the Neapolitans, with the Georgian often tasked with carrying the side on his back in Victor Osimhen's absence, and he may be playing his football elsewhere sooner rather than later.

4. Rafael Leao

Rafael Leao
Leao is a proven match winner / Giuseppe Bellini/GettyImages

There's certainly no doubting Rafael Leao's status as one of the best left wingers in the world after he played a starring role in AC Milan’s Scudetto triumph in 2021/22, scoring ten times and adding 11 assists in 34 league appearances.

The Portugal international boasts a lightning-quick, gazelle-like stride that overwhelms defences every week. He's a destructive ball-carrier and has reached superstar status at San Siro.

The sky is very much the limit for Leao, who will undoubtedly make Milan a lot of money when the right time to sell arrives - if it ever does.

3. Son Heung-min

Son Heung-Min
Son is a modern Tottenham great / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Son Heung-min had his worst campaign in recent memory in 2022/23, coming only a season after he won the Premier League's Golden Boot.

The South Korean idol is known for enduring lapses in form and while such troughs can be incredibly frustrating, Son's scintillating purple patches more than make amends.

He's been a world-class performer at Spurs for almost half a decade. While he doesn't excel in some of the traditional aspects of wing play, Son has blossomed into arguably the deadliest inside forward in the world.

There isn't a goal he can't score with either foot and Ange Postecoglou has got the best out of him at the start of his reign.

2. Vinicius Junior

Vinicius Junior
Vinicius is a star / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

It wasn't too long ago when Karim Benzema couldn't stand the thought of Vinicius Junior receiving possession. "Don't play with him, on my mother's life he is playing against us," the French forward told Ferland Mendy during a Champions League group stage clash in 2020. 

Oh, how the tables have turned!

Vinicius' evolution from a spritely but indecisive winger into final third machine played a key role in Real Madrid's Champions League victory in 2021/22. He also notched 27 La Liga goal contributions that season and struck up a deadly partnership with the once-critical Benzema.

Alongside Jude Bellingham, he's now the leading light at the Bernabeu in light of Benzema's departure to Saudi Arabia. The Brazilian has copped terrible abuse in Spain but keeps rising above the hate and is arguably the best out-and-out winger in the world.

1. Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe
Mbappe is now at Real Madrid / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

The epitome of a generational talent. Kylian Mbappe's rise to superstardom was inevitable after he broke through at Monaco as a 17-year-old during the 2016/17 season.

PSG quickly snapped the teenager up and Mbappe soon became the most powerful man in the French capital.

While Mbappe is yet to win the Champions League, he's won multiple league titles, the World Cup and is PSG's all-time leading goalscorer. The electric Frenchman has achieved so much in such a short space of time and is well on his way to dominating the sport throughout the 2020s.

He's now set to continue his incredible journey at Real Madrid alongside a host of incredible players.