Welcome to World Class

The top 5 left-backs in the world 2021 - ranked

Jude Summerfield
90min's top left-backs in the world
90min's top left-backs in the world / 90min
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We're well into 90min's Welcome to World Class series for 2021. We're all learning a lot, aren't we?

We've already rattled through lists for goalkeepers, centre backs, defensive midfielders, central midfielders and attacking midfielders using our metric for world class players, and there's been absolutely no controversy over those selections. Absolutely none.

Now, it's time to detail the world's best left-backs.

The way full backs are viewed has changed immensely in the past few years. They're now judged just as much on their attacking capabilities as their defensive skills.

Just before we get into the numbers and all that, here's how the process works...

  • A world class footballer is defined as one of the top five players in the world in their position.
  • All players can fit into one of 10 on-field positions; GK, RB, LB, CB, DM, CM, AM, RF, LF, ST.
  • All players have been graded across ten different subcategories in the decision-making process - you can find more information on everything mentioned above here.
  • Performances for club and country are considered.
  • We want you to have your say - check out details on how to get involved below.

All statistics are provided by StatsPerform over the period of January 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021 (inclusive of domestic and continental cup competitions).


Left-backs

5. Luke Shaw (new entry)

Shaw won the poll to be declared world class
Shaw won the poll to be declared world class / 90min

Games played: 46
Passing accuracy: 85.7%
Tackles: 55
Interceptions: 31
Clean sheets: 11

Luke Shaw makes up our top five, beating Barcelona's Jordi Alba in our poll. He deserves it, especially for his performances in the first half of the year.

The England left-back finally looks to have shook off the injury issues that have held him back over the years and was a massive bright spot as Manchester United charged to second in the Premier League last season.

Things have been tough in the first half of the 2021/22 season, but Shaw's performance over the course of the past year have been positive and he deserves his spot in #W2WC.

4. Theo Hernandez (new entry)

Hernandez is a threat on the flank
Hernandez is a threat on the flank / 90min

Games played: 40
Passing accuracy: 82.9%
Tackles: 42
Interceptions: 30
Clean sheets: 8

Let's all give a big warm welcome to Theo Hernandez, AC Milan's left-back and one of their biggest attacking threats who is making his first appearance in Welcome to World Class.

Across the entirety of this year's #W2WC, only one defender has netted more goals than the Frenchman's five. His excellent performances in 2021 were rewarded with a call-up to France's national team, for whom he has already made a big impact, scoring a dramatic injury-time winner in their Nations League semi-final clash with Belgium.

His defensive statistics remain strong too and he played an important role as the Rossoneri returned to the Champions League in 2021 for the first time since 2013/14.

3. Joao Cancelo (new entry)

Cancelo is now on of Manchester City's most important players
Cancelo is now on of Manchester City's most important players / 90min

Games played: 47
Passing accuracy: 86.8%
Tackles: 103
Interceptions: 75
Clean sheets: 18

After an indifferent first season at Manchester City, Joao Cancelo is now one of their most important players, with his flexibility on either flank being a huge advantage for Pep Guardiola.

The Portugal international is a fantastic defensive asset for the Premier League champions, topping our metrics for tackles, interceptions and clean sheets with 103, 73 and 18 respectively.

His wand of a right foot is also a major attacking weapon, with one assist in particular for Raheem Sterling against Everton in November being worthy of its own highlight reel. He also scored a pre-Christmas screamer against Newcastle - proving he's got it all.

2. Alphonso Davies (-)

Davies has enjoyed a meteoric few years
Davies has enjoyed a meteoric few years / 90min

Games played: 42
Passing accuracy: 87.5%
Tackles: 77
Interceptions: 50
Clean sheets: 7

Retaining his second place spot from last year's #W2WC, Alphonso Davies has enjoyed another terrific year at Bayern Munich.

Now the German champions' first choice on the left following the departure of David Alaba to Real Madrid, the Canadian scores the highest in passing accuracy with 87.5% and is an electric presence on the left hand side. Not many players get past him, either, racking up 77 tackles.

His pace is outrageous and often means he can push high up the pitch and cause nightmares for opposition defences.

Given he was playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps as recently as 2018, the 21-year-old's ascension to the discussion of the world's best left-backs is nothing short of astonishing.

1. Andy Robertson (-)

Robertson is 90min's best left back in the world
Robertson is 90min's best left back in the world / 90min

Games played: 41
Passing accuracy: 84.4%
Tackles: 44
Interceptions: 26
Clean sheets: 10

Coming in at number one, it's Liverpool's Scottish left-back Andy Robertson, who keeps his crown from last year's edition.

The Reds may have endured a tough 2020/21 season, but Robertson played every Premier League game that term and his side have since roared back in the second half 2021.

Robertson is a fearsome presence down Liverpool's left hand side, bustling up and down the wing, making crunching tackles and showing great positional awareness, coming out on top of the clearances metric with a whopping 73.

He's incredibly consistent, scores highly across all of our metrics and always delivers reliable performances for his side.

A more than worthy winner.


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