Ranked! The 10 best left-wingers in the world right now

Best left-wingers
(Image credit: Future)

There was a time where left-wingers were all left-footed and their sole job was to whip balls into big forwards. Not anymore.

With football evolving, some of the most talented players in the world play wide on the left, using trickery, pace and creativity to light up sides across Europe. The left-winger is a danger man. 

We've compiled a list of the 10 best in the world *right now*, meaning talent alone is not all that counts. For that reason, we've made the tough call to omit Son Heung-min this time. The Spurs forward has had a slow start to the season by his standards and we didn't feel he deserved a spot. But, to be clear, we definitely think he is among the best in the world on his day. Just not right now. 

Note, this is different to our list of the best forwards and the best strikers in the world. Here, we're just looking at players whose best position is over on the left flank.

So who would you go for? Here are our choices...

10. Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling

(Image credit: Getty)

The England forward has made a slower start to life than expected at Stamford Bridge, having swapped Manchester City for Chelsea in the summer. That being said, the Blues have been through turbulent times themselves of late, changing owners and managers already this season. Under Graham Potter, Sterling has been asked to play as a striker and a wing back, with neither working out perfectly. In truth, he may need to adapt his game to thrive under Potter in the months to come. He remains one of the best poachers in the Premier League and will be key to England's World Cup hopes. 

9. Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich)

Leroy Sane

(Image credit: Getty)

After dazzling in the Premier League as a youngster, Sane has found himself on the end of some rough treatment back in his home country. Bayern fans had expected the Germany international to destroy Bundesliga full-backs with his pace and directness but he's struggled with injuries and fitness since returning to Deutschland in 2020. This season, though, he's looking sharper. The stiff competition for a place in the team – caused by another player on this list – has seen him reproduce some of his best form. Long may that continue. 

8. Luis Diaz (Liverpool)

Liverpool star Luis Diaz

(Image credit: Getty)

After taking the Premier League by storm last season (following his January arrival from Porto) Diaz has struggled to replicate that red-hot form this season. He's shown his sublime talent in flashes – and there's a case to be made that the Colombian has become Liverpool's most important attacker this term – but the entire Reds team has struggled this term and that has affected Diaz's standing on our list. Still, there are few players in the world who can match the 25 year old for pure skill, audacity and finesse around the opposition box. 

7. Raphael Leao (AC Milan)

Rafael Leao

(Image credit: Getty)

Portuguese wide-man Leao has been in scintillating form for reigning Serie A champions AC Milan again this term, chipping in with a healthy supply of goals and assists in the early stages of the season. He's become somewhat of a regular for his nation in recent months, too, and will be hoping too play a key role in Qatar. He has the trickery and end product to become one of the best forwards in world football. 

6. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

(Image credit: Getty)

Any Napoli fans fearing a sharp decline in their team's fortunes following the departure of talisman Lorenzo Insigne over the summer need not have. The summer arrival of Georgian International Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has not only softened the blow, but helped Napoli mount a serious title tilt in the early stages of the season. The 21 year old is quick, creative and already has the end product to help fire the club to silverware. There's no telling just how good he could become in the years ahead. 

5. Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)

Gabriel Martinelli

(Image credit: PA)

Something strange is happening in north London. Arsenal, perennial also-rans for the past 15 years, are slowly becoming a force again, and much of that is to do with a clutch of youngsters taking on greater responsibility. Chief among them is Gabriel Martinelli, whose goals, determination and eye for the spectacular have made him one of the Premier League's outstanding players this season. He evidently loves the club, and that is reflected in his tireless displays and the sheer jubilation on his face whenever he finds the back of the net. The latter is beginning to happen on a near-weekly basis. Not just a fantastic 21-year-old: a fantastic player, full stop. 

4. Phil Foden (Man City)

Phil Foden

(Image credit: Getty)

While Foden's best position is, somehow, still yet to be determined long-term, he is most commonly deployed on the left of City's attack, where his foraging runs and intelligent movement wreak havoc. At just 22, Foden has become one of Pep Guardiola's most trusted forward players, and is inevitably fielded in the biggest Premier League and Champions League fixtures. His burgeoning partnership with striker Erling Haaland has the potential to blossom into one of English football's great double acts. While Foden is yet to reproduce his best performances for England, it increasingly feels as if his nation is failing him, as opposed to the other way around. It's surely a matter of time before things click for him at intentional level. 

3. Sadio Mane (Bayern)

Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring for Bayern Munich against Bochum.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There arguably isn’t a footballer in the world like Sadio Mane. He’s right-footed but capable of using his left, his head or any part of his body necessary to get the pass, shot, cross or whatever is needed for his team. He’s the ultimate attacking weapon with speed, physicality, trickery and superb awareness of the game around him.

He's started the season brightly for new club Bayern but is yet to hit the heights Premier League fans know he is capable of. Once he starts firing at maximum capacity, the German juggernauts could prove unbeatable again this term. 

2. Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)

Vinicius Junior of Brazil walks in the field during the international friendly match between Brazil and Tunisia at Parc des Princes on September 27, 2022 in Paris, France.

(Image credit: Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

A blur of speed, sensational balance and trickery, Vinicius Jnr was always destined for superstardom. He's now achieved it, having driven Real Madrid to the Champions League title last season – scoring the only goal in the final win over Liverpool. His pace and directness make him the ideal foil for Karim Benzema's burlier central presence and Real are a far less terrifying prospect without him giving Luka Modric and Toni Kroos a receiver to aim for. 

The only thing left for him to conquer is the intentional stage. While a regular starter for Brazil, his best position is often occupied by Neymar – who is still the daddy for his country. The World Cup in Qatar could be the platform he needs to ascend to the throne. 

1. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)

PSG forward Neymar

(Image credit: Getty)

Neymar is the only player on this list - and one of only a handful in world football - who can be described as genuinely unplayable when he’s in the mood. 

The Brazilian can humiliate opponents, pick a pass, score from nothing, and bring an entire stadium to its feet if he fancies it. A far more complete playmaker than most wingers, the 30-year-old is happiest dropping deeper and affecting his team’s build up play, yet still finds time to score and tee-up his team-mates. His stats speak for themselves this season (he hit double figures for goals and assists before the end of October) and could finally get his hands on a World Cup in 2022. You wouldn't bet against him. 

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Ed McCambridge
Staff Writer

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.

With contributions from