In a Premier League era so often defined by goalscoring, the influence imposed by a number of key full-backs on both ends of the pitch has unquestionably become a hallmark in the top flight of English football.
They may not score 30 goals a season, or dazzle in the center of the park as true masters of creation in ways that often seemingly defy the laws of nature, but any side in England that is worth their salt that has ambitions of finishing the European places or beyond undoubtedly will feature a top quality player in that position.
With that brief preamble out of the way, 101 Great Goals presents our picks for the top five left-backs coming into the 2023-24 Premier League season.
5. Nathan Aké
When you were a key instrument in a treble-winning side, blowback at not playing Dutch international Nathan Aké further up our list will surely have a few Manchester City supporters up in arms. And that’s okay. This does not take anything away from his contributions to Pep Guardiola last term, but it is hard to gauge his true ceiling in the role given City’s dominance. As a facilitator of keeping possession while also progressing play, Aké was sublime, while his aerial contributions were excellent as well. But as a more defensive full-back, we’ll keep him here.
4. Luke Shaw
As first-choice left-back for England, Manchester United’s Luke Shaw was always a shoo-in for our list, but much like Aké, I’m sure I will catch some heat for not crowning him king. Certainly, Shaw’s overall profile on the left side of Erik ten Hag’s back four is comparable to some of the best anywhere in Europe in his ability to both defend as well as get forward, but perhaps it is his lack of direct influence in the final third that maybe is being held against him. It does stand to note that his capability of being pressed into service at center-back is noteworthy as well. He should be primed for another fine season.
3. Pervis Estupiñan
Ecuadorian international Pervis Estupiñan wasn’t like other Brighton acquisitions that were plucked from a nondescript corner of the globe, but rather, a player who was rehabilitated in Villarreal after failing to make the grade at Watford before arriving at the Amex. But his immediate impact in his debut season for the club last term was undeniable, which increased tenfold under Roberto De Zerbi. Estupiñan was one of the standout performers for the Seagulls in a side that overachieved to get into the Europa League, and his FBRef data speaks to just how influential he was and likely will remain in 2023-24.
2. Oleksandr Zinchenko
Questions abound when it comes to Ukrainian international Oleksandr Zinchenko and his ability to defend during his debut season for the Gunners in 2022-23, with even Arsenal fans wondering if there was a better option either at the club or on the market. That is until he was unavailable through injury. During his absence, it became clear just how massively influential the former Manchester City defender was on the pitch for Mikel Arteta that the club struggled to replicate its blistering form without him (and William Saliba). A return to fitness should see Zinchenko once again helping the Gunners tick on all fronts.
1. Andrew Robertson
Creator. Facilitator. Leader. These are just nouns to describe Scottish international captain and Liverpool ace Andrew Robertson. From humble beginnings at Queen’s Park, Dundee United, and Hull City before his arrival at Liverpool, Robertson has stood out all along the way even under the worst set of circumstances. Since rocking up to Anfield, Robertson has unquestionably been one of the top left-backs in England. As he developed further, he’s now not just the best in England, but one of the best in the world. A real complete package, with a mountain of assists to ice the cake. Expect the same this season.