Versatile left-backs are becoming an ever-more important position in football. Just look at the likes of Marcelo or, more recently, Andy Robertson, who combined their deft defensive tact with an ability to make a massive threat in the final third. Let's look at the top 10 left-backs in the world this 2023/24 season.
10. Alejandro Balde — Barcelona
There's a new left-back in Barcelona, 19-year-old Alejandro Balde. And he's got some big boots to fill, following up for Barcelona legend Jordi Alba (number 1 on our 2019/20 left-back list), who has taken his talents to Miami to join Messi.
Balde, like Alba, is renowned for his technical ability and is an instant threat in the final world. He notched seven assists in his first season with the Catalan giants. One of Xavi's marquee players, the teenager, recently extended his Barcelona contract until 2028 with a release clause of €1 billion.
9. Ben Chilwell — Chelsea
At times, Chelsea captain Chilwell can be one of the best left-backs in the world. But reoccurring hamstring issues continue to slow him down as the seasons progress. Chelsea's new boss, Pochettino has also been playing him as a left-winger with some avail.
Let's see if Chelsea's most consistent player can return to his best this 23/24 season. A proper pairing with Mudryk could be a huge threat on the left.
8. Pervis Estupiñán — Brighton
Don't sleep on the talented Ecuadorian — there's a reason Roberto De Zerbi's side is currently second in the Premier League table this season. In September 28, Estupiñán became just the second Ecuadorian to captain a Premier League side when Brighton took on Chelsea.
7. Ferland Mendy — Real Madrid
The highly-touted French left full-back, Ferland Mendy, is trying to do his best impression of Madrid legend Marcelo. Those are some heavy boots to fill. So far, Mendy is holding up to his potential, perhaps even a stronger defender than Marcelo — but has a lot of work to do in pushing forward and perfecting his crossing.
Rumors circulated last summer that the 28-year-old pondered leaving the club, but that's since proven false; he remains focused on seeing out his career for Los Blancos.
6. Nathan Ake — Manchester City
When it comes to business on the pitch, Dutch left-back Nathan Ake gets it done. A wise defender especially one-on-one, Ake played an integral role in City's treble-winning road last season. He made the most touches and pass attempts in City's one-nil Champions League victory over Inter Milan last June.
Guardiola recently promoted Ake to captain the Sky Blues during the 23/24 campaign. At 28, Ake still has much to prove.
5. Nuno Mendes — PSG
The young fullback Nuno Medess is making a name for himself and becoming one of PSG's most reliable players. The 21-year-old presents a threat to the attack (five assists last season) but also knows when to focus on covering for his defense.
Unfortunately, the Portuguese remains injured this 23/24, but recent surgery should see his return in October.
4. Alphonso Davies — Bayern Munich
While Alphonso Davies has fallen down the pecking order, he's easily making the top 10 left-backs in the world. The 22-year-old Canadian, nicknamed the “Roadrunner” by his teammates, can cover lots of ground due to his incredible speed.
After just four appearances this 23/24 season, he leads as one of the highest-rated left-backs in Europe's top five leagues this season. He also ranks on the list for most dribbles in Europe's top leagues this season. Meep Meep!
Still, some doubt his defensive capabilities.
3. Andy Robertson — Liverpool
While Liverpool's Andy Robertson may have experienced an off-season last year, he's sure to be back to his best form this 23/24 season. The Scottish fullback is as quick as they come, and his crossing abilities are bar none — he's recorded, on average, seven assists in his last five EPL seasons.
Robertson is also a workhorse and vocal leader in the back. No wonder he's one of Jurgen Klopp's favorite Liverpool players.
2. Oleksandr Zinchenko — Arsenal
Oleksandr Zinchenko quickly set a winner's tone for Arsenal last season, inspiring the Gunners to a second-place finish behind his previous team, Manchester City.
The 26-year-old is the pinnacle of the modern-day fullback, combining technical skills, defensive acumen, and savvy vision. Zinchenko's the fastest left-back, but we guarantee he's among the smartest, Arteta's quarterback.
1. Theo Hernandez — AC Milan
French fullback Theo Hernandez's stock is rising due to his elite defense-making prowess at AC Milan and for the French national team. Hernandez is a keen defender with excellent positioning, impeccable timing on the counter, and a superb dribbler. He puts his fellow opposition defenders on roller-skates before knocking goals of his own back into the net.
Hernandez averages five strikes and four assists a season at AC Milan. The Frenchman's pace and well-roundedness ensure he's a threat at both ends of the pitch. AC Milan will be lucky to keep their captain as Premier League teams like Chelsea are chomping to woo over his talent.