There was a time when a manager would select their left-winger based purely on their ability to deliver a ball into the box. While that still remains part of the duties of any wide player, the role has evolved to include a great deal more.
In modern times, those playing down the flanks are considered major attacking weapons in their own right, expected not only to create but also to find the net themselves.
With 116 goals and 89 assists in 309 career games from the left side for Manchester City, Raheem Sterling has long been considered one of Europe’s most dangerous operators in the position.
However, a number of factors have seen Sterling fall out of favour with City boss Pep Guardiola this season – not least being the arrival of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for £100 million over the summer.
Despite spending an extended period on the bench at the Etihad this term, Sterling still ranks at number five on a countdown of the best left-wingers on the planet recently compiled by FourFourTwo. The 26-year-old even placed higher on the list than new recruit Grealish.
You can check out the top ten in full below…
The 10 best left-wingers in the world right now – per FourFourTwo
10. Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich)
9. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
8. Ansu Fati (Barcelona)
7. Jack Grealish (Manchester City)
6. Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
5. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
4. Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)
3. Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)
2. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
1. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Sterling is one of five representatives from the Premier League on the list, sitting four places above Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and two above Grealish.
The England international, though, is outranked by Tottenham’s Son Heung-min.
As you would expect, there is some exceptional talent at the head of the countdown. Real Madrid winger Vinicius Jr is only 21 years of age, but the electric Brazilian has lit up La Liga for Los Blancos this season. Placing third on FourFourTwo’s rankings, there looks to be plenty more to come from the youngster in the years ahead.
By contrast, it’s being a slow start to the new campaign for Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar. On his day, however, the 29-year-old can be completely unplayable, with a vast array of skills in his locker. Based on his quality, it’s tough to argue that Neymar doesn’t deserve his lofty billing.
The top spot goes to Liverpool’s Sadio Mane. Right-footed, but more than capable with his left, the Senegal international has been an integral piece of Liverpool’s rise back to prominence under Jurgen Klopp.
Mane’s speed and trickery from the left has helped the Reds secure both Premier League and Champions League honours in recent seasons. Pretty much every side in the world would love a left-sided option like Mane in their ranks.
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