World Football Power Rankings: The Top 10 Left-Backs in the World
Who is the best left-back in the world?
Is he French? Brazilian? German? Nigerian?
There is always great interest and discussion about declaring the top players at their respective positions. Whether ranking goalkeepers or strikers, the world wants to know who is the best.
Although there are many lists ranking the top players, the criteria often changes and creates major controversy.
Reputation, past performance, injuries and current form have all been determining factors in player rankings.
This list is the fourth of an entire series. From goalkeepers to managers, it will rank the top 10 men at their positions.
Players will be ranked by their abilities and contributions on the pitch, not by their team's performance. For example, Barcelona's Victor Valdés rarely lets in goals for the European and Spanish champions. Despite his impressive record, he finds himself behind Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina in Spain's pecking order. His individual abilities and displays do not warrant a top-five spot on the goalkeeper list.
Players will not be judged by their special games or memorable moments, but by their consistent level of top form. For example, Manchester United's Wayne Rooney will be ranked according to his form over the latter stages of 2011's campaign. He will not be judged by his terrible form post-injury, which carried into the beginning of this season.
Injuries will have no impact on the list. For example, Arsenal's Robin van Persie will be ranked according to his performances for the Gunners this season. He has been plagued by injuries in recent years, but he will be judged by his level of play when fit.
Note: Players who have just retired, such as Edwin Van der Sar and Paul Scholes, will not be included in this series.
This is the fourth installment of a series of football power rankings.
Here are the top 10 left-backs in the world.
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Domenico Criscito - Zenit Saint Petersburg
Yuto Nagatomo - Internazionale
Filipe - Atlético Madrid
Federico Balzaretti - Palermo
Aleksandar Kolarov - Manchester City
10. Marcel Schmelzer
Phil Cole/Getty Images
Name: Marcel Schmelzer
Club: Borussia Dortmund
International Caps: 4
The German international had a stellar season with Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund. Schmelzer was a key figure in defense for the German side, earning his first international cap in November. The Dortmund star has been touted as the long-term solution at left-back for Joachim Löw's Germany.
Schmelzer has emerged as one of the best defensive left-backs in Europe. The German international boasts exceptional positioning, awareness and tackling ability. Schmelzer rarely gets caught upfield, showing good discipline and natural defensive instincts.
The Bundesliga winner has outstanding intangibles to complement his accomplished defensive abilities. Schmelzer is a hard-working no-nonsense defender, determined in the tackle and relentless at closing down opponents. His work rate and tireless defending distinguishes him as a top-quality left-back.
The Dortmund star has a great drive to get forward in the attack as well. Schmelzer does not have the technical abilities of an elite fullback, but the German provides good support down the left flank.
Schmelzer's natural defensive qualities and combative style of play make him one of the top left-backs in world football.
With Schmelzer's hard-working mentality and potential, the German international will be amongst the top five players at his position in the future. The Dortmund star has the makings of an elite, world-class left-back. Schmelzer claims the No. 10 spot due to his no-nonsense defending and determination.
The German has the tackling ability, positioning and tenacity of a world-class left-back. He was clearly the top fullback in the Bundesliga this season, providing solidity and consistency at left-back for league champions Dortmund.
Schmelzer performed at an exceptionally high level throughout the year, showing the determination and spirited defending of a rising star in German football.
Although Schmelzer was in tremendous form for Dortmund, he has yet to consistently face world-class opposition. In addition, the German lacks the technical ability and composure on the ball to move ahead of the other left-backs on the list.
The Dortmund star climbs above the likes of Criscito and Nagatomo with his consistent level of top form, defensive qualities and tireless work behind the ball. While he may not be the skilled, attacking fullback of the modern game, Schmelzer has earned the No. 10 spot in the rankings.
9. Leighton Baines
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Name: Leighton Baines
International Caps: 5
Everton's attacking left-back had a breakout 2010-11 season with the Merseyside club. Baines was in spectacular form for David Moyes' side, contributing seven goals and 19 assists in all competitions. The Englishman was arguably the best left-back in England and narrowly missed out on the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
With experience playing as a left-winger earlier in his career, Baines has exceptional attacking qualities for a fullback. The Englishman frequently bursts forward to offer support, giving the team another option out wide.
Baines provides outstanding crosses from the left flank and a goal-scoring threat as well. His technical ability and composure on the ball distinguish him as a dangerous, attacking left-back.
Although the attacking forays have become a trademark of his game, Baines has improved his defensive abilities. The Everton star shows good hunger to win back possession and decent timing in tackle. While he may not be the strongest or fastest left-back in football, Baines works hard defensively.
The Englishman was one of the EPL's star performers this year, emerging as a top-quality left-back.
Baines has entered the prime years of his career and developed into one of England's best fullbacks. The Everton star lands at No. 9 due to his outstanding attacking qualities and lack of polished defensive skills.
The Englishman's contribution in the final third cannot be understated. Baines provides dangerous delivery from the left flank and has the ability to score a few goals per season as well. He frequently makes overlapping runs and gets forward to create two-on-one situations out wide.
Although Baines is a significant attacking threat, his defensive abilities keep him from climbing higher on the list. The Englishman can get caught upfield and has poor positional awareness as well. The Everton star has improved closing down opponents and sliding in for the tackle, but he is still developing and refining his defensive game.
The Englishman moves above the likes of Criscito and Schmelzer with his consistency and quality end-product. Baines was sensational for Everton this season, especially when going forward and contributing in the final third.
He may not have the defensive skill of the German fullback, but the Englishman has improved defensively and continues to be a serious threat when arriving late in the attack.
Baines has enjoyed his best year of club football, becoming one of the top left-backs in football.
8. Aly Cissokho
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Name: Aly Cissokho
International Caps: 1
The French left-back had a stellar season with Lyon, earning rave reviews for his performances in the Champions League and Ligue 1.
Cissokho was one of the top fullbacks in France this season, narrowly missing out on the Ligue 1 Team of the Year. With a generation of outstanding French left-backs, the Lyon defender has struggled to break into the national team.
Cissokho has emerged as an elite athlete at the left-back position. The Frenchman boasts a rare combination of power and pace, making him a dynamic threat along the back line. With the strength of a centre-back and the speed of a winger, Cissokho can mark any type of attacker.
Standing at 5'11'', he has the height and leap to deal with crosses to the far post. Cissokho's recovery pace and aerial ability have been key to his success as a fullback.
The Frenchman's defensive tenacity and tireless running set him apart from the majority of left-backs. Cissokho closes down opponents quickly and shows good strength in the tackle. The Lyon star has exceptional endurance, which gives him the freedom to maraud up the left flank.
Although he may not be the most technically gifted fullback, Cissokho makes frequent overlapping runs and provides decent delivery from wide positions.
At 23 years old, the Lyon star has been forced out of the spotlight due to the abundance of French talent at his position. However, Cissokho is an athletic, dynamic force at fullback and is developing into one of the best left-backs in the world.
Although the Frenchman only has one international cap, he is still a top-quality left-back. Cissokho was a standout performer for Lyon this season, emerging as an elite fullback in Ligue 1. The Frenchman lands at No. 8 due to his exceptional athleticism and defensive tenacity.
With his combination of pace and power, Cissokho has become an imposing force at left-back. The Frenchman has the speed to cope with wingers racing to the byline, and the upper-body strength to handle commanding strikers drifting out wide. Cissokho's unique physical attributes move him above the likes of Schmelzer and Baines.
While the Bundesliga champion and English star have solid defensive qualities, Cissokho's ability to mark opponents and challenge in the air makes him a special talent at left-back. Although the Frenchman has all the physical tools to be amongst the top five players at his position, he lacks the technical ability and quality end-product to climb higher in the list.
Cissokho is still developing and refining his game on both sides of the ball. The Frenchman has the potential to claim a higher ranking in the future and challenge for a regular first-team place in the national team. Cissokho does not get the publicity of the EPL's fullbacks, but he is still one of the top left-backs in football.
7. Gaël Clichy
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Name: Gaël Clichy
International Caps: 10
At 25 years of age, Clichy has developed into one of the best left-backs in England since his introduction into the Arsenal first-team. Due to recurring injury problems, the Frenchman has regressed from the top form that saw him named in the 2007-08 PFA Premier League Team of the Year. Nonetheless, Clichy is still an elite talent at left-back for both club and country.
The long-serving Arsenal defender is an exceptional athlete at left-back. Clichy has blistering pace and lightning quickness, which makes him a threat to get in behind the defense. The Frenchman's ability to beat defenders and race to the byline causes havoc for the opposition.
His overlapping runs have been key to the Gunners' success, especially with Samir Nasri frequently cutting infield. Although his crossing is poor, Clichy's unbelievable endurance allows him to frequently get into dangerous positions in the final third.
Although the pacy Arsenal fullback is strong going forward, his athleticism and quickness have become key to his defending as well. Clichy does not have great tackling technique, but his burst of speed gives him the upper-hand in the majority of 50-50 balls. The Frenchman has the quickness to win the ball and swiftly transition into the attack.
While Clichy may not be the most accomplished or polished defensive left-back, the Frenchman has become an elite player at the position with his sheer pace and determination to join the attack.
The Arsenal fullback has been hampered by back problems over the past few years, but he is still a top-quality left-back. Clichy claims the No. 7 spot due to his exceptional athleticism, level of top form and determination.
The Frenchman's ability to drive past opponents and win the 50-50 challenges with his quickness and commitment, makes him one of the best left-backs in football. Clichy provides great defensive cover and attacking support with his blistering pace. He combines well with teammates down the left flank, giving the side genuine width. Although his overall form dipped this past season, when fit and in good form the Frenchman is still an elite left-back.
Clichy's lapses of concentration and poor delivery keep him from climbing higher in the rankings. The left-back is prone to the occasional howler, which has hurt Arsenal over the years. In addition, the Frenchman gets into great positions out wide, but fails to deliver quality crosses into the box.
While the Arsenal left-back still needs to improve certain aspects of his game, he moves above Baines and Cissokho with his pace, experience and good form. Clichy has played against Europe's elite teams and has proved that he is amongst the best players at his position. When at his consistent level of top form, the Frenchman is clearly one of the elite left-backs in Europe.
Clichy does not have the natural defensive instincts as other players on the list, but he is deserving of the No. 7 ranking.
6. Fábio Coentrão
Name: Fábio Coentrão
International Caps: 15
The Benfica star has quickly become one of the most exciting talents at left-back in the world. After starting his career as a winger, Coentrão was moved to fullback in 2009.
The Portuguese international's switch to left-back ignited his career as an elite fullback. Coentrão was a standout performer for Portugal in the 2010 World Cup and continued his rich vein of form for Benfica this season.
Coentrão boasts exceptional attacking qualities for a fullback. The rising Portuguese star has outstanding technical skill. He provides world-class delivery from the flank and a great left-footed strike.
Given time and space on the ball, Coentrão can beat opponents off the dribble or combine with teammates. The defender's composure in possession and quality end-product distinguish him as a world-class left-back.
In addition to his technical skill, the Benfica star has great pace and endurance. Coentrão's quickness allows him to recover defensively and spring forward in the attack.
Although the Portuguese international has earned rave reviews for his attacking style of play, he has developed into a good defensive left-back as well. Coentrão shows great grit and commitment in the tackle. While he does not have outstanding tackling precision, the Portuguese star wins the ball with tireless defending and sheer determination.
Coentrão has endured a meteoric rise since his switch from left-wing to left-back. While he was a good winger, the Benfica star has become a world-class fullback.
Although Coentrão has only played at fullback for a few seasons, he has already become an elite player at the position. The Portuguese left-back has the potential and talent to challenge for a top-three spot in the future. Coentrão claims the No. 6 spot with his impressive attacking qualities and spirited defending.
The Benfica star is clearly one of the best attacking fullbacks in the world. His skill on the ball and top-quality delivery from the flank make him a dynamic threat at left-back. While he gives the team an extra dimension in the attack, Coentrão is a determined defender as well. The Portuguese international shows good commitment to regain possession and win the ball.
Although the talented fullback has been sensational going forward, he lacks the defensive discipline to move higher in the rankings.
Coentrão is still learning how to play left-back and balance his contributions on both sides of the ball. The Benfica star is guilty of persistent fouling and getting caught out of position after pushing up in the attack, which keeps him out of the top five players on the list.
The Portuguese international climbs above Cissokho and Clichy with his contributions to the team's attacking play and outstanding service from the flank.
Unlike the aforementioned Frenchmen, Coentrão provides supporting runs down the left and dangerous delivery from wide positions. With his ability to beat defenders in one-on-one situations and deliver good crosses into the box, the Benfica star edges out the French fullbacks.
Coentrão has bags of potential for a player still learning the position. The Portuguese star is already a world-class left-back and will undoubtedly break into the top five over the next few years.
5. Taye Taiwo
Martin Rose/Getty Images
Name: Taye Taiwo
Club: AC Milan
International Caps: 48
Before he sealed a free transfer to AC Milan early in the summer window, Taiwo was arguably the most underrated left-back in football. The Nigerian was a sensational player for Marseille, getting elected to the Ligue 1 Team of the Year three times. Taiwo has been a reliable and consistent player for both club and country, emerging as one of the elite left-backs in football.
The ex-Marseille star is an ideal, athletic and dynamic modern fullback. Taiwo has the power and pace to cope with all types of attackers. The Nigerian shows good strength in the tackle and has the recovery speed to deal with pacy wingers.
Standing at 6'0", Taiwo is strong in the air as well. The Milan defender can deal with crosses to the far post and mark taller opponents on set-pieces. Taiwo's physical attributes make him a special talent at the position.
In addition to his great athleticism, the left-back has polished defensive qualities. Taiwo has become a solid and reliable fullback, providing solidity and consistency to the back line. The Nigerian is rarely caught out of position, showing exceptional awareness and defensive discipline. Taiwo boasts solid tackling technique and timing as well.
The Nigerian star has all the tools of a complete fullback, but his shooting, crossing and dead-ball expertise distinguish him as an elite player at the position. Taiwo has a thunderous left foot, which makes him a serious threat from outside the box.
The Milan defender can hit a long-distance shot or free-kick with real venom and accuracy. Although Taiwo's strikes from distance have become a trademark of his game, the Nigerian delivers good crosses from the flank as well.
With Taiwo playing for Milan next season, he will become recognized as an elite, world-class left-back.
At 26 years of age, the Nigerian star is entering the prime years of his footballing career. Taiwo was an exceptional left-back for Marseille and will only improve playing for Milan. The left-back breaks into the top five with his athleticism, balance between attack and defense and exceptional long-range shot.
Taiwo is a dynamic force at fullback, contributing on both sides of the ball. The Nigerian has earned rave reviews for his discipline and accomplished defensive qualities. His ability to tackle, challenge in the air and get forward sets him apart from the majority of left-backs. In addition, Taiwo is a serious threat from the run of play and dead-ball situations with his thunderous left-footed strikes.
The Nigerian is a complete, well-rounded left-back. He has all the tools to challenge for a higher spot on the list.
Taiwo climbs above the likes of Clichy and Coentrão due to his well-balanced style of play. Although the aforementioned players are dangerous in the final third, they lack the Nigerian's polished defensive qualities. The ex-Marseille star has the aerial strength and tackling ability of a solid, reliable left-back.
While Taiwo may not be the most well-known fullback in football, he is a world-class talent and deserving of the No. 5 ranking.
4. Éric Abidal
David Ramos/Getty Images
Name: Éric Abidal
International Caps: 55
Although Abidal is the oldest player on this list at 31 years of age, the Frenchman has solidified his place amongst the top left-backs in football.
The Barcelona fullback has become one of the most reliable and steady defenders in Europe. Abidal has impressed for both club and country, seamlessly transitioning from left-back to centre-back when needed.
The Frenchman does not receive the same attention as some of his Barcelona teammates, but he is undoubtedly a world-class player.
Abidal is an exceptional defensive left-back. The Barcelona fullback boasts outstanding positional awareness and tackling technique. The Frenchman has good anticipation and reads the game well.
Abidal's ability to intercept passes and break up opposition play have become key aspects of his game. The left-back is committed in the challenge and has great timing as well.
In addition to his natural defensive instincts, Abidal has good strength and aerial ability. The Frenchman does not have the build of a Gerard Pique, but he rarely gets pushed off the ball. Standing at 6'1'', the Barcelona left-back is a strong presence in the air. Abidal's ability to protect the far post and mark tall players on set-pieces set him apart from the typical fullbacks in Europe.
The Barcelona defender may not be the Dani Alves-type of attacking fullback, but he is still comfortable on the ball and in possession. Abidal shows good composure with the ball at his feet. Although he does not frequently push up the left flank, the Frenchman can play the ball out of the back.
Abidal largely goes unnoticed playing for a club team full of international superstars. However, the Frenchman has been in tremendous form over the past few seasons. The Barcelona left-back is a model of consistency at fullback, and an elite player at his position.
Abidal does not bring the exciting, attacking flair that other players on this list do, but he is still a world-class left-back. The Frenchman claims the No. 4 spot due to his level of top form and impressive defensive qualities.
The Barcelona left-back has entered the final stage of his playing career, but he remains an elite fullback. Abidal has shown unbelievable consistency over the past few years, providing solidity and composure to the back line.
The Frenchman's outstanding awareness and reading of the game set him apart from the other left-backs on the list. With experience playing at centre-back for the national team, Abidal has developed exceptional defensive skills.
The Frenchman moves above Coentrão and Taiwo in the rankings with his reliability and cultured defending. Abidal is a steadying influence at the back. He has been one of the most consistent fullbacks in football, dating back to his days in Ligue 1. His ability to anticipate danger and break up opposition play makes him a world-class left-back.
Abidal has the resume and defensive skill-set to challenge for a top-three spot in the rankings. However, his loss of pace has made him vulnerable against pacy wingers and strikers. While his outstanding tackling and anticipation usually covers for his lack of great speed, he can still be exposed in one-on-one situations.
Although this year Abidal was not at the sensational form he was a few seasons ago, he is clearly one of the best left-backs in world football.
Angel Martinez/Getty Images
Club: Real Madrid
International Caps: 6
Marcelo had a stellar season with Copa del Rey champions Real Madrid. The Brazilian enjoyed his best campaign with the Spanish giants, showing significant improvements under new manager Jose Mourinho.
Although he has recently been left out of Brazil's Copa America roster due to disciplinary issues, Marcelo has clearly emerged as one of the top left-backs in football.
The Madrid star's attacking qualities have always been a trademark of his game. Marcelo boasts exceptional technical ability and skill for a player at his position. The Brazilian's contributions to the club's attacking play cannot be understated.
He has developed a great understanding with winger Cristiano Ronaldo, forming a lethal combination down the left flank. Marcelo has the skill to beat defenders off the dribble or play intricate one- and two-touch football around the box.
The Brazilian frequently gets to the byline with his trickery and pace and has the vision to pick out attackers streaking into the area. Although one of Marcelo's greatest strengths is his ability to setup goals from the left-back position, he can find the back of the net as well.
Although the Brazilian was heavily criticized for being a defensive liability in the past, he has made significant improvements in one year with Mourinho. Marcelo still commits unnecessary fouls, but he has developed into a good tackler.
The Madrid star shows outstanding tenacity and determination to win back possession. His agility and pace allow him to recover and make last-ditch tackles when needed. Marcelo's positioning has been slightly better this year, but it is his tenacity and tackling that have made him an elite left-back.
The Brazilian's outstanding form for Madrid this season caught the attention of Argentine legend Diego Maradona. The famous No. 10 regarded Marcelo as the best player in La Liga, other than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Madrid star has introduced the defensive skill to help complement his attacking qualities. Marcelo was sensational in Spain's top-flight this year and has developed into a world-class left-back.
Arguably one of the more surprising rankings on the list, Marcelo breaks into the top three after making tremendous strides this season under Mourinho. The Brazilian was in unbelievable form for Los Blancos, emerging as an elite talent at left-back.
Marcelo earns the No. 3 ranking due to his impressive attacking qualities and improving defensive skills. With his technical ability, pace and combination play, the Brazilian is arguably the world's best attacking fullback. He frequently gets forward in support of the attack, helping to create goalscoring chances for himself and others.
Although Marcelo's strengths going forward have been instrumental to his development as a top left-back, his tackling and spirited defending make him a world-class player at the position. The Brazilian is able to use his quickness, determination and improved technique to win more tackles.
The Madrid star edges out Taiwo and Abidal for a top-three spot with his outstanding attacking play and consistent form. Marcelo has the unique ability to create from the left-back position. The Brazilian can use his pace or skill to beat players off the dribble and combine with teammates in the final third. In addition, Marcelo kept an unbelievable level of form throughout the season.
The Brazilian has become one of the best fullbacks in the world, but the two players ahead of him are in a class of their own.
While the Brazilian is not the most complete or balanced left-back, he has earned the No. 3 ranking on the list. At 23 years of age, Marcelo has the potential and talent to challenge for the top spot in the future.
2. Patrice Evra
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Name: Patrice Evra
Club: Manchester United
International Caps: 35
The Manchester United star is arguably the best left-back in world football. Evra has been named to the PFA Premier League Team of the Year three times and the FIFPro World XI once.
The United star was captain of the French national team during their horrific display at the 2010 World Cup. Evra endured a terrible summer, but his club performances over the past five years speak volumes. The Frenchman is a world-class talent at left-back and one of the top players at the position.
Evra has become the archetypal modern fullback. The United star has exceptional athleticism, determination, attacking skill and defensive abilities. The Frenchman's balance and well-rounded style of play make him an ideal and complete left-back.
With experience playing as a forward in the youth ranks, the United star is a serious threat in the attack. Evra boasts outstanding technical skill and crossing ability. The Frenchman's slalom runs down the left flank have become a trademark of his game.
Evra links-up well with teammates when pushing forward, using his pace and skill to play wall-passes and get in behind defenders. When given space and time in the final third, the Frenchman provides good service from wide positions.
In addition to his strengths in possession, Evra has developed into a talented defender. The French international is strong and committed in the challenge, showing determination to regain possession. Evra has great tackling technique and timing to complement his recovery pace, making him difficult to beat when isolated out wide.
Although standing at only 5'8'', the Frenchman has explosive leaping ability. Evra is surprisingly strong in the air for a player of his size, rising well to win headers.
Evra's well-balanced style of play distinguishes him as one of the best fullbacks in the world.
Although the other players on this list are quality left-backs, the top two are in a league of their own. Evra has the tools and skill-set to be the No. 1 player on this list.
The Frenchman has been a fixture in manager Sir Alex Ferguson's starting-11 since his first full season in England's top flight. Evra is a dynamic left-back, with an outstanding combination of attacking skill and defensive prowess. The Frenchman's athleticism and contributions on both sides of the ball have been key to United's success over the past five years.
While Evra's overall form slightly dipped this season, he is undoubtedly deserving of the No. 2 spot. Individually, he has all of the qualities to claim the top spot. However, the Frenchman can get caught upfield or pulled too far infield. With his drop in form and occasional defensive lapses, he cannot climb higher in the rankings.
The Frenchman moves above Abidal and Marcelo with his well-balanced play and all-around contribution to the team. Evra is a pacy, potent attacking threat, while the Barcelona defender lacks that impact in the final third. Although the Madrid left-back offers more going forward, the United star edges out the Brazilian with his polished defensive skills.
At 30 years of age, Evra is at the tail-end of his prime. However, the Frenchman has the talent to challenge for the top spot next year. He is a cut above the aforementioned left-backs and deserving of the No. 2 ranking.
Although the United star has arguably been the best left-back in past seasons, there is only one player who has earned the No. 1 spot on this list.
1. Ashley Cole
Clive Rose/Getty Images
Name: Ashley Cole
International Caps: 89
The Chelsea and England defender has earned his title as the world's No. 1 left-back. Cole has been named to the PFA Premier League Team of the Year four times, and the UEFA Team of the Year twice, on his way to becoming the best player at his position.
The Chelsea star had a stellar season at the club level, setting himself apart from the other top left-backs in England. Cole has been amongst the best left-backs in football since his days in the Arsenal Invincibles side. The England international has continued to improve and solidify his place amongst the elite fullbacks in Europe.
Cole's natural defensive instincts make him a special talent at the position. The Englishman boasts exceptional tenacity and determination. The Chelsea star closes down opponents with lightning quickness, hounding attackers for the full 90 minutes.
Cole is a tough-tackling left-back with a hard-working mentality. He never pulls out of a challenge, showing good strength in the tackle. With his tenacity, tackling technique and timing, the Englishman has become an outstanding defensive left-back.
Cole has blistering pace and quickness to complement his spirited style of defending. The Chelsea star has the speed and agility to make key interceptions and recover if necessary.
His combination of defensive prowess and pace makes him the toughest left-back to beat in one-on-one situations. Although the Englishman's quickness allows him to track back and get behind the ball, it is beneficial moving into the attack as well.
The Chelsea star marauds up and down the left flank for club and country. With his speed and stamina, Cole is able to frequently provide overlapping runs and support in the attack. While his delivery from wide positions may not be world-class, the England international provides good crosses from the flank. Cole's energy and quickness in the final third creates problems for opposing defenders.
The England international has been considered one of the top three left-backs in football over the past few years. However, Cole has distanced himself from the rest of the pack with a stellar season for the Blues. The Englishman has once again proven that he is the best left-back in the world.
While Evra is a serious contender and yearly challenger for the No. 1 ranking, Cole has emerged as the top player at the position. The Englishman consistently played at an unbelievable level this year, capitalizing on his United counterpart's dip in form.
Cole has been a standout performer for nearly a decade in the EPL, winning trophies for both Arsenal and Chelsea. The Englishman's natural defensive instincts, pace and attacking forays make him the best left-back in football.
The Chelsea star is undoubtedly one of the best defensive fullbacks in Europe. Although he lacks the leaping ability of Evra to win headers, Cole boasts unbelievable tenacity and world-class tackling ability. The Englishman has the recovery speed to cope with the world's fastest wingers as well.
Cole's pace and endurance give him the freedom to join the attack as well. The Englishman provides genuine width out on the left and quality support in the final third. He may not be the most accomplished attacking player on this list, but he is a solid contributor going forward.
Although Marcelo, Taiwo and Coentrão have the potential to challenge for a higher spot in the future, there were two clear front-runners for the No. 1 ranking. Evra makes a strong case to move up on the list, as the Frenchman has all the tools to be the world's best left-back. However, Cole edges out the United star with his polished defensive skills and exceptional level of form.
While Evra was a serious contender and worthy candidate for the top ranking, Cole is the No. 1 left-back in the world.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Previous Power Rankings: The Top 10 (position) in the world:
- The Top 10 Wingers
- The Top 10 Attacking Midfielders
- The Top 10 Central Midfielders
- The Top 10 Defensive Midfielders
- The Top 10 Centre-backs
- The Top 10 Right-backs
- The Top 10 Goalkeepers
From goalkeepers to strikers, a new Top 10 list will be published every week.