6 Most Effective Wingers in La Liga: Brilliant Bale, Dazzling Dos Santos

Paul WilkesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2014

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates his goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Valladolid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

There's nothing quite like a wide man sprinting down the wing and taking on his full-back. In La Liga, we are fortunate to have some of the world's best, a number of which have gone on to influence their teams further by occupying a more central role.

We are all aware of the abilities of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, so both have been classed as forwards here. In order to qualify for this article, the player has to have featured in over half of their matches as an attacking wide player or winger, rather than just on the right or left of midfield. Players such as Atletico Madrid's Koke have played in a number of positions and haven't been classed as out-and-out wingers.

Antoine Griezmann, Real Sociedad

The Frenchman put his team into the Champions League group stages with a sublime acrobatic volley against boyhood club Lyon. It was a defining moment that illustrated it was going to be his season. The 22-year-old currently sits third in the Pichichi with 12 goals, including four headers.

Predominately left-footed and positioned out on the left, he prefers to cut inside to offer a goal threat rather than get to the byline and supply a cross. La Real will need to return to Europe's premier competition if they want to keep him beyond the summer.

Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona

It's been his finest season in a Barça shirt, showing the supporters why their club paid €26 million to Udinese for his services. A hat-trick against Elche and the winner in the Clasico have been the stand out occasions of the campaign for the Chilean.

His brace at Wembley gave English fans a glimpse of his potential, whilst he will be his national sides key player in Brazil. Using his pace, he roams infield and plays off the shoulder of the last defender as Lionel Messi drops into the midfield area.

Gareth BaleReal Madrid

He may have cost a world-record fee, but the Welsh wing wizard is already showing his worth. Despite not having a pre-season and picking up a number of ailments throughout his opening few months in the Spanish capital, he is still making his mark.

In just nine La Liga starts, he has scored seven goals and provided seven assists. As he adjusts to his new team and more importantly his team adjust to him, he will know doubt have a devastating effect.

Giovani Dos Santos, Villarreal

When Dos Santos was at Tottenham, his then manager Harry Redknapp remarked: "If he could pass a nightclub as well as he can pass a ball he would be alright," via The Daily Mail. Now at 24 years old, the Mexican is keeping his dancing moves strictly for the pitch.

He was the star player in a struggling Real Mallorca last term, and his performances were rewarded with a move to Villarreal. The forward certainly has the talent to climb the football ladder once more. In 13 starts, the former Barcelona youth teamer has directly contributed to 13 goals.

Pedro, Barcelona

His breakthrough season was outstanding under Pep Guardiola, but unsurprisingly, he struggled to maintain that level. With Gerardo Martino at the helm, the Tenerife-born forward has found his shooting boots once again.

When you win the treble and the World Cup in your first full season as a professional, it's bound to be hard to find motivation. He's the clubs joint top scorer this year, and with Neymar out with an ankle injury, he will be crucial to Barcelona in the coming weeks.

Carlos Vela, Real Sociedad

The former Arsenal forward has made 2.4 key passes per game, via Who Scored. Another Mexican on the list, Vela's direct attributes make him the perfect cog in Real Sociedad's counter-attacking unit.

He has 12 goals in all competitions, just two short of a career best. Vela will be imperative to his team's push to make the top four, as he combines his clever dribbling skills with subtle assists.