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The 25 best left wingers in world football – ranked

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.

Goncalo GuedesGoncalo Guedes

Guedes didn’t start well at Wolves / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

Signing Goncalo Guedes looked like a brilliant bit of business from Wolves, but it hasn’t gone to plan so far.

Once touted for huge things after he signed for Paris Saint-Germain as a teenager, it took some time for Guedes’ senior career to take off. He was a steady performer in La Liga for several years before he enjoyed a very productive 2021/22 campaign with Valencia with 17 league goal contributions.

Wolves haven’t benefitted from his arrival just yet, sending him back to Benfica for the second half of the 2022/23 season.

Nicolas PepeNicolas Pepe

Pepe impressed on loan with Nice / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

There is no getting away from the fact Nicolas Pepe’s career has gone awry.

After the monster move to Arsenal which did not work out, he spent the 2022/23 season on loan at Nice.

He did just about enough there to stay relevant but approaching his peak years he must get his next move right. Pepe got eight goals and an assist at Nice, which is not a bad return, but his Arsenal future remains pretty bleak.

Allan Saint-MaximinAllan Saint-Maximin

Saint-Maximin wows crowds at St James’ Park / George Wood/GettyImages

The ultimate entertainer. Neutrals look up from their phones and the St James’ Park faithful rise in anticipation when the ball arrives at the feet of Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Frenchman is dynamite in transition and his unpredictability makes him one of the most watchable players in the world.

Saint-Maximin is far from a mere show pony, by the way. The Newcastle winger can strike the ball as well as anybody and his technical repertoire is as extensive as any left winger on the planet.

Nuno SantosNuno Santos

Santos has stayed in Portugal / Carlos Rodrigues/GettyImages

A lot of Portuguese wingers stay in their homeland and only start getting plaudits for their careers when they hit their late 20s.

Nuno Santos is getting on but remains a really impressive winger who has been scoring goals for Sporting CP for a long time.

He got eight league strikes and six assists last season, setting a very good example for the young stars Sporting have. He is a remarkably versatile player, having played at left-back and basically everywhere across midfield and attack throughout his career.

Stephan El ShaarawyStephan El Shaarawy

El Shaarawy was once a young prodigy / Ivan Romano/GettyImages

Stephan El Shaarawy has been around for absolutely ages now and some may think of him as a second-rate winger who used to be exciting, but he is still turning in some great performances for Roma.

His seven goals and three assists in Serie A in 2022/23 were impressive considering how poor Roma were from an attacking perspective and got the Giallorossi out of some pretty sticky situations.

Mikel OyarzabalMikel 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 is not a major shock when you consider 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 six times for the Spanish national team.

Ferran TorresFerran Torres

Torres has struggled at Barça / Hiroki Watanabe/GettyImages

Ferran Torres’ career seems to be stalling somewhat, with his move from Manchester City to Barcelona not starting well. However, at 23 there is still plenty of time to refind his best form.

Having come through at Valencia, Torres showed great signs at Man City before being shipped to Barcelona. He has only managed four La Liga goals in each of his two seasons back in Spain, so there is room for improvement and that could come at a new club this summer.

Filip KosticFilip Kostic

Kostic joined Juventus after impressing in the Bundesliga / Maurizio Lagana/GettyImages

Winger-cum-wing back Kostic only got better during his eight-year Bundesliga spell which culminated in a Europa League triumph with Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Serbia international has always been good for a handful of goals every season, but his elite crossing ability means he’s a perennial assist provider.

Kostic is a throwback winger in that he loves to dart down the left flank, hit the byline and produce crosses at will. He made the switch to Juventus and there should be better to come after a modest first season.

Harvey BarnesHarvey Barnes

Barnes is a threat for Leicester / David Rogers/GettyImages

There have been times when Harvey Barnes has been criminally underused by Leicester.

While he is predominantly right-footed, Barnes’ cheetah-like speed means he loves to burst past defenders on the outside and is more than adept with his weaker left. 

Barnes is an incredibly direct winger and has produced regularly for the Foxes as a result. Between 2019/20 and 2021/22, Barnes scored 21 times in the Premier League and added 22 assists.

Leandro TrossardLeandro 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.

Wilfried ZahaWilfried Zaha

Zaha has been Palace’s talisman for years / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

The enigmatic Wilfried Zaha was a tough winger to rank. He’s functioned as Crystal Palace’s talisman for years and years, seemingly always being on the brink of a big-money departure.

Instead, it looks like he may depart for free when his contract expires unless a new deal is reached.

Zaha is the ultimate enigma but his talent is off the charts and we frequently see the very best of him.

Kingsley ComanKingsley 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, including the more ruthless Serge Gnabry.

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

Ansu FatiAnsu Fati

Fati has the world at his feet / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Let’s hope that injuries don’t ruin the potential of this starlet. Ansu Fati has been forced to watch from the sidelines too often in recent times after he burst onto the scene during the 2019/20 campaign.

Fati immediately struck a telepathic rapport with the great Lionel Messi in Catalonia as he ended his debut La Liga campaign with seven goals in just 11 starts.

Fati’s instincts in and around the box are deadly; he rarely hesitates when allowed to strike at goal. He’s sound enough technically to receive the ball at feet and drift inside but he also boasts the athleticism to run in behind.

Gabriel MartinelliGabriel Martinelli

Martinelli’s reputation is growing at Arsenal / Justin Setterfield/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 Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka, Martinelli is now emerging 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.

Raheem SterlingRaheem Sterling

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

Raheem Sterling certainly hasn’t been shy 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 has been somewhat inefficient in front of goal for Chelsea so far, but he has years of credit in the bank and should turn his form around at Stamford Bridge.

SSC Napoli v AFC Ajax: Group A - UEFA Champions LeagueSSC Napoli v AFC Ajax: Group A - UEFA Champions League

Kvaratskhelia is changing the game at Napoli / MB Media/GettyImages

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has already garnered the ‘Kvaradona’ tag after joining Napoli last summer.

The Georgian superstar’s direct running, instinctive nature and penchant to entertain 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.

Mattia ZaccagniMattia Zaccagni

Zaccagni helped fire Lazio into the Champions League / Ivan Romano/GettyImages

The 2022/23 season was a really good one for Mattia Zaccagni. His Lazio form was one of the main reasons they managed to finish second in Serie A and make it into the Champions League, although he has failed to gain many admirers outside of Italy.

Zaccagni got ten goals and seven assists in the Italian top flight last season and had Ciro Immobile been fit for more of the campaign, that assist figure likely would have got into double figures.

He could surprise and impress a lot of people in the Champions League next season.

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-BOURNEMOUTHFBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-BOURNEMOUTH

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 he’ll continue to thrive at Anfield.

Sadio ManeSadio Mane

Mane joined Bayern after a legendary spell at Liverpool / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Sadio Mane became one of the best players in the world at Liverpool, winning a Golden Boot at Anfield before trying something new by joining Bayern Munich.

The super athletic Senegal international 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 haven’t started well in Munich but there’s every possibility Mane will turn things around.

Jack GrealishJack Grealish

Grealish is improving at City / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

Jack Grealish was set up to fail when Manchester City paid £100m for his services in 2021 but he’s since managed to blend into Pep Guardiola’s starting XI with ease.

The former Aston Villa captain eventually found a regular spot on the right wing as City stormed to the treble in 2022/23.

His goal numbers don’t equate to a £100m signing but if City continue to dominate in England and Europe, that won’t matter.

Son Heung-minSon Heung-min

Son enjoys a remarkable partnership with Harry Kane / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Son 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 his partnership with Harry Kane has helped the South Korean reach stratospheric heights. Son’s carried Spurs in times of strife and his current lean run of form shouldn’t detract from his overall majesty.

Rafael LeaoRafael Leao

Leao’s reputation has soared over the past year / Jurij Kodrun/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 he 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.

Neymar Jr.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 we shouldn’t overlook Neymar’s scintillating run to the 2020 final. Had PSG beaten Bayern in Lisbon, Neymar’s campaign would’ve 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.

Marcus RashfordMarcus Rashford

Rashford is returning to his best at Man Utd / Matthew Ashton – AMA/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 has seen him galvanised. Rashford is brilliant at getting in behind defences and he’s a distinct threat on the counter-attack.

United are back in the Champions League and that’s largely down to Rashford’s 17 league goals in 2022/23.

Vinicius JuniorVinicius Junior

Vinicius is all smiles on the pitch / Quality Sport Images/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.

He’s now the leading light at the Bernabeu in light of Benzema’s deparutre 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. 

READ 90MIN’S TOP 25 LISTS FOR EVERY POSITION

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