The best left-backs in the world sit in a very unique club in 2023, even among footballers. They are tasked with colossal defensive duties and with providing attacking threat.
Determining who belongs to this exclusive club is no easy task either. This is why today we have looked at the stats, including the FootballCooin fantasy football data, and we’ve looked to uncover the very best left-backs of 2023.
What makes a great left-back nowadays?
The left-back position is one of the ones that has undergone the greatest number of changes since the dawn of the tactical revolution. Whereas before, a left-back was simply a wide defender tasked with making sure that his opposition did not concede, they must now do much more.
Sure, they need to keep the right flank tidy. They need to mark opposing wingers. And they need to offer additional support to the team’s central defender(s).
They are also asked to make overlapping runs down the flanks. They must provide width and be a good crosser of the ball. In fact, in a 5-3-2 formula, they act both as wide defenders and as the team’s default wingers.
To do all of these, the best full-backs in the world need good positioning, stamina, passing and crossing skills, and even an eye for the occasional goal. The players that fit this criteria belong to our list.
The best left-backs in the world in 2023
Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal)
Oleksandr Zinchenko proved that leaving Manchester City is not always akin to putting a curse on your own career. Zinchenko became an important part of Mikel Arteta’s tactical plans at Arsenal, even if he has not always played in his preferred left-back position. When he has, the Ukrainian has brought experience and an excellent technical repertoire to the role, giving him a place among the world’s best left-backs.
Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Luke Shaw’s time playing under Erik Ten Hag has been a surprising redemption story. Shaw was one of Manchester United’s best players before an injury that has sidelined him for the past months. Furthermore, for anyone who has watched the left-back across his career, his incisive offensive runs were some of the best since his arrival at Old Trafford.
Diego Rico (Getafe)
Diego Rico is an underappreciated master. Looking at his stats and attributes, however, it is clear that he is one of La Liga’s best left-backs. This season alone, the player has made five assists in nine appearances. A full-back in the classic sense, Rico is owed a nod.
Solly March (Brighton)
Brighton is the toast of the town under manager Roberto De Zerbi. Solly March is one of the unflappable, tactically skilled soldiers of this unrelenting side. March managed three goals and an assist this season. Last season, he scored seven goals and provided seven assists. It might not be enough to get him a place in the England national team. But, to us, he is one of the world’s leading left-backs.
Fredrik Aursnes (Benfica)
Fredrik Aursnes might be somewhat controversial, but not because his skill is less than that of his peers. No, it is simply because the Norwegian is nearly as good on the right flank as he is on the left one. Possessing an incredible work rate and exceptional tactical awareness, Aursnes is part of one of Benfica’s best teams in years, led by manager Roger Schmidt, and one of the best left-backs in the world.
Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid)
Ferland Mendy is an unsung hero. Still, any successful Real Madrid side will be one that includes at least one great left and one great right-back. And while it is true that Mendy hardly ever captures the headlines and that he has to battle Fran Garcia for a place in the starting line-up nowadays, he still is owed a place on our list of the world’s best left-backs.
Alejandro Balde (FC Barcelona)
Alejandro Balde is no longer “one for the future.” With the young left-back often featured in Xavi’s starting lin-up, FC Barcelona won La Liga. The youngsters’ passing skills and tactical knowledge are already sensational. Let’s call this case closed and call Alejandro Balde one of the best left-backs in the world in 2023.
Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
Andy Robertson, along with teammate Trent Alexander Arnold, has been a hero of FootballCoin users for the past few years. They’ve also become figureheads for the modern full-back.
Robertson remains one of the best left-backs in the world. Still, it is true that his form is declining. This is partly due to recent injuries, as well as the inevitable slowing down with age. However, in 2023, few left-backs made more final third entries, created more chances, or made more ball recoveries. Robertson is still good for a place on our list.
Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munchen)
Alphonso Davies is another player who has not quite astounded us in 2023 the way that he used to do. The Canadian, however, continues to have great pace and the kind of offensive appetite that once made stats providers Opta rank him as an attacker.
Theo Hernandez (AC Milan)
If you’re looking to understand what a modern left-back must do, look no further than Theo Hernandez. The former Real Madrid prodigy has grown significantly since transferring to Serie A. And, even though 2023 meant a slight decline for AC Milan, who the title back in 2022, Hernandez has still shown to be a tremendous left-back.
Fewer players in Theo Hernandez‘s position take more shots on target or make more progressive carries. And even though he makes fewer clearances and tackles than old-fashioned wide defenders, Hernandez is clearly one of the world’s best players in his position.