Gone are the days when left wingers were ruthless centering machines. Today’s left wingers are more versatile, able to do more than move into the box.
Most of today’s left-wing midfielders are very quick, great with the ball, know how to beat defenders one-on-one and are capable goalscorers. Today, we’re taking a look at five of the creators and disruptors that will be entertaining us immensely in 2022.
Below we rank the top five left wingers of 2022:
#5 Rafael Leao (Portugal) – AC Milan
AC Milan’s Portuguese left-back was one of the best parts of their 2021-22 Serie A-winning campaign. He scored 11 goals and provided 10 assists in 34 matches. 7 goals and eight assists in 19 games between January and May 2022. Leao also scored twice in four Coppa Italia games and once in four Champions League games.
The 2021-22 Serie A-winning left winger was also in admirable form in the 2022-23 season. The 23-year-old football player scored 7 goals and provided 9 assists in 20 games in all competitions.
Leao did not start a single match for Portugal until they were eliminated by Morocco in the quarter-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He played just 83 minutes in five games, scoring two goals.
#4 Cody Gakpo (Netherlands) – PSV Eindhoven
Recently, Liverpool left winger Cody Gakpo had a great 2022. He first introduced himself to the world with his performances at PSV Eindhoven. During the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he proved himself to be one of the most promising young players in Europe.
Gakpo, who can play not only as a left winger but also in the middle, scored six goals and provided two assists in 14 Eredivisie games in the second half of the 2021-22 season. He also scored twice in the Dutch Cup, including once in the 2-1 victory over Ajax in the final. Before joining Liverpool, Gakpo scored 13 goals and provided 17 assists in 24 games for PSV Eindhoven in the 2022-23 season, showing his ability to score and create goals.
As for international football, he scored three goals in five games for the Netherlands before Argentina knocked them out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
#3 Neymar (Brazil) – Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Brazil superstar Neymar had a decent 2022. The left winger has struggled to stay fit in the first half of the year but has been quite effective when called upon. In the second half of the 2021-22 season, Neymar scored 10 goals and provided three assists in 12 matches in Ligue 1. He came on against Real Madrid in the round of 16 of the Champions League (losing 3-2 on aggregate) and fell short of Mbappe’s two goals in both games.
This season, the 30-year-old left winger has chased all forests in both Ligue 1 and the Champions League. He scored 11 goals and provided 10 assists in 15 league games. He scored two goals and made three assists in 5 matches in Europe.
Neymar was only able to play three times for Brazil at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, missing two group games with an ankle injury. He scored two goals and provided an assist before the Selecao were beaten by Croatia in the quarter-finals.
#2 Sadio Mane (Senegal) – Liverpool/Bayern Munich
Bayern’s left winger Sadio Mane tormented his opponents in 2022 with his speed and determination. In the playoffs of the Champions League, the then “Liverpool” striker Mane scored three goals and assisted in seven games. The Merseysiders lost 1-0 to Real Madrid in the final.
In the 2021-22 Premier League season, he scored nine goals and provided two assists in 16 games. There, the “reds” defeated “Manchester City” and settled in the second place.
In the semi-final of the FA Cup, Mane scored two goals and his team won 3:2 against Manchester City. “Liverpool” defeated “Chelsea” in the penalty shootout in the final. Mane also featured in the AFL Cup final where Liverpool once again beat Chelsea on penalties.
The 30-year-old left winger joined Bayern in the summer of 2022 and has scored 11 goals and provided 4 assists in 23 appearances in all competitions.
The Senegal international failed to help his team to the 2022 FIFA World Cup but led them to AFCON glory earlier this year. He scored three times and set up two more in seven AFCON matches. In the final, Senegal defeated Egypt in a penalty shootout with a score of 4:2 and won the title of the king of Africa.
#1 Vinicius Junior (Brazil) – Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s left winger Vinicius Junior had a great 2022. The young Brazilian improved markedly on his recent output under coach Carlo Ancelotti and was instrumental in Los Blancos’ Champions League-La Liga-Spanish Supercopa treble in 2021-22.
In the second half of the 2021-22 season, Vinicius Junior recorded two goals and three assists in seven Champions League play-off matches. He scored 7 goals and made 8 assists in 16 matches in La Liga. Vinicius Junior also scored one goal in two Spanish Super Cup matches.
This season, the left winger has established himself as Los Blancos’ top scorer in all competitions. He scored 6 goals and 3 assists in 15 matches in La Liga. He also scored four goals and provided an assist in six Champions League games.
The 22-year-old has also been in fine form at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, scoring one goal and providing two assists as Brazil lost in the quarter-finals.