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Ranking the five best left-wingers in the world right now

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Wingers of the traditional mould are increasingly a thing of the past, with this the era of the inside forward. It’s a rarity for left footers to feature on the left in the modern era, and those who come alive when drifting dangerously infield are more commonly coveted.

The attributes of a world-class winger remain much the same, however, with delivery, dynamism, speed and skill sought to overwhelm opposition full-backs.

There’s no shortage of elite wide options in world football and we’ve attempted to rank the best in the business.

The five best left-wingers in world football right now.

5. Gabriel Martinelli – Arsenal

Gabriel Martinelli must be regarded as Arsenal’s best business of recent seasons, having been picked up for a fee of just £6m from Ituano FC.

An instant hit during a debut campaign that saw the teenager score 10 goals in all competitions, he has since developed into an integral part of Mikel Arteta’s improving Arsenal team.

Last season, he scored 15 league goals – equalling the record for the most Premier League goals scored in a single season by a Brazilian – to end the campaign as the joint-leading scorer for the North Londoners.

Gabriel Martinelli is built different 🌪️ pic.twitter.com/Yx6Zx75HOn

— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 3, 2023

Martinelli is electric at his best with speed and admirable work-rate, forming one-half of a wing partnership with Bukayo Saka that could define Arsenal for the next decade. Explosive and agile, his desire to commit defenders makes Martinelli one of the most watchable wingers in world football when at his best.

4. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia – Napoli

From obscurity to superstardom in the space of 12 months, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia burst onto the scene in 2022/23.

It takes a special talent to earn comparisons to Diego Maradona in Naples, but the Georgian did just that after inspiring Napoli to a drought-breaking Scudetto last season.

He scored 12 goals and led the league for assists (10) after arriving from Dinamo Batumi in his homeland, performances which earned him the Serie A Player of the Year award and helped Napoli a first league title in 33 years.

🅰️ Kvaratskhelia
⚽️ Osimhen

Pure class for @en_sscnapoli‘s second goal against Lecce 💪#LecceNapoli pic.twitter.com/R7wSTpdnXj

— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) October 1, 2023

Kvaratskhelia added the Champions League’s Young Player of the Year to a growing list of individual accolades and has continued in a similar vein despite Napoli’s disastrous defence of their title, scoring 10 times in Serie A this season.

On the international stage, he’s also made history, inspiring Georgia to a first-ever major tournament after beating Greece on penalties in their play-off to reach Euro 2024.

3. Rafael Leao – AC Milan

AC Milan agreed a new deal with Rafael Leao last summer, setting the release clause at €200m for a footballer courted across the continent. Leao has evolved into one of Europe’s best wide players since signing for the Rossoneri from Lille, making a fool of full-backs in Serie A.

At 6ft 2in, the Portugal international combines height with pace and prolific ball-carrying, capable of taking his team up the pitch in an instant with long strides and lightning speed.

Leão’s second was just…

WOW. pic.twitter.com/ZLemw4ze0H

— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) June 5, 2023

He was the x-factor in Milan’s Scudetto triumph in 2021/22, with Leao named as the division’s finest footballer after scoring 10 goals and creating 11 more in Serie A.

The 24-year-old has now reached 10+ goals in three consecutive campaigns for the Italian side, though his is a game that cannot be judged on numbers alone. Leao’s often unstoppable dribbling is a game-changer for Milan and the reason Europe’s wealthiest clubs are considering mega-money bids.

2. Son Heung-min – Tottenham

Son Heung-min inherited the captain’s armband at Tottenham in the summer and has been a shining light in an exciting period under new manager Ange Postecoglou.

Though his fluctuations in form can frustrate, Son’s best level is undoubtedly world-class. He’s been the Premier League’s finest finisher this season – outperforming his xG to a greater extent than any other player – en route to 15 league goals.

Son has now scored 10+ goals in eight consecutive Premier League campaigns and became the first Asian footballer to win a Golden Boot in one of Europe’s top five leagues in 2021/22.

Biggest xG overperformers in the last five Premier League seasons:

◉ 23/24: Son Heung-min (+5.27)*
◎ 22/23: Harry Kane (+7.51)
◎ 21/22: Kevin De Bruyne (+9.58)
◉ 20/21: Son Heung-min (+5.58)
◎ 19/20: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (+6.66) pic.twitter.com/xngsMyXkZ6

— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) March 28, 2024

His incredible ability off either foot and sharpness around goal has seen Son climb into the top five goalscorers in Spurs history, and he will hope to curtail his career in north London with a trophy before his time is up.

1. Vinicius Junior – Real Madrid

Carlo Ancelotti called Vinicius Junior the best player in world football last season and the Brazilian has certainly put himself into that conversation.

Vinicius can be untouchable when he gets up a head of steam in the final third, with scintillating speed and even quicker footwork. Though Jude Bellingham is now competing for the crown, he’s the go-to man for Real Madrid and fast assuming that status with the national team as Brazil move into a new era.

A born entertainer 🍿#UCL pic.twitter.com/iCEkgZTj6s

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 27, 2023

He’s reached 20+ goals and 20+ assists in each of the last two campaigns and has 28 goal involvements so far this season, as the Spanish side chase domestic and European success.

An El Clásico hat-trick against Barcelona in The Supercopa de España highlighted his ability to decide the biggest games and Vinicius might just be a Ballon d’Or winner in the making.

One of the best on the planet right now, in any position.

Read – Ranking the five best attacking midfielders in the world right now

See more – Ranking the five best central midfielders in the world right now

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