Jordi Alba has always been one of the world’s best full-backs. His attacking flair and eye for a pass are exactly what’s required in the modern definition of the position, and he can hold his own defensively.
But who could have predicted this good a season? Barcelona‘s attack was depleted at the beginning of the campaign; in stepped Alba to fill the void. He seemed to have a telepathic connection with Lionel Messi, a relationship that underpinned the team’s attack.
The Spaniard duly tops our full-back rankings – here’s the full top ten from Europe’s top five leagues.
1. Jordi Alba, Barcelona
Barcelona needed to replace Neymar once the playmaker bolted for PSG. Who knew that it would be their left-back to take up the mantle? Alba to Messi was the most lethal combination in Spain, and key to La Blaugrana’s success.
2. Marcelo, Real Madrid
The Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich summed Marcelo up: at fault for the Bavarians’ opener, but scored the equaliser. That’s the trade-off, and it’s one Madrid will take gladly.
3. Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich
It was Kimmich who scored that goal for Bayern, and he added another in the second leg. The young German has emerged as one of the best in his position this season.
4. Kyle Walker, Manchester City
5. David Alaba, Bayern Munich
It’s credit to Kimmich that Alaba may not even be considered Bayern Munich’s best full-back at the moment. That being said, the Austrian is still an outstanding left-back, capable of switching from defence to attack with aplomb.
6. Filipe Luis, Atlético Madrid
The 32-year-old continues to show why Diego Simeone has placed so much faith in him, as his nous and work-rate helped Atlético maintain their traditional defensive fire. His recovery from a broken fibula in just two months was remarkable.
7. Aleksandar Kolarov, Roma
Given a new lease of life after being discarded by Manchester City, Kolarov fitted in seamlessly at Roma, providing buckets of experience to the back line. He also remains a formidable attacking force.
8. Marcos Alonso, Chelsea
One of the few bright sparks in a Chelsea season where Antonio Conte’s famed defence largely regressed. Alonso’s goal threat and his tenacity make him the Blues’ second-best player this season after Eden Hazard.
9. Philipp Max, Augsburg
The Augsburg left-back has 12 league assists season – as many as Lionel Messi. It’s easily the record for most assists by a defender in the Bundesliga; it’s a number many attacking players would dream to have.
10. Antonio Barragán, Real Betis
Real Betis are the surprise package in La Liga this season, having secured a Europa League spot, and their on-loan right back is a big reason why. No one would have expected this when Middlesbrough let Barragán go in the summer.
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