LaLiga left backs 2023/24 – Who are the best LB’s in Spain?

Who are the best LaLiga left backs? We’re going to take an analytical look at the best left sided defenders that are currently playing in the Spanish top flight with a comparison of key metrics to show the best defensive and attacking players in the position.

We’ve only included players who have played a minimum of 500 minutes in LaLiga 2023/24 so far with their most commonly used position being left back or left wing back. Some players who have featured in the position but not that frequently may be included in our rundown of the best right backs in LaLiga or the best wingers.

The data comes via FBREF as of 12th December 2023 (after 16 matchdays) and is per 90 minutes unless otherwise stated. Players had to rank in the top 3 for any of the metrics to be included in the tables below.


LaLiga left backs 2023/24


Best attacking left backs & left wing backs

Player Progressive Carrying Distance Successful Take Ons Crosses Touches in Attacking Third Shot Creating Actions Assists Expected Assisted Goals
Rodrigo Riquelme 148.5 (2) 2.33 (1) 3.17 27.2 (1) 4.00 (1) 0.17 0.15
Fran Garcia 142.8 0.67 3.83 24.7 (3) 3.00 (3) 0.50 (1) 0.23 (3)
Samuel Lino 159.4 (1) 1.36 1.82 23.2 3.94 (2) 0.30 0.35 (1)
Johan Mojica 102.4 0.63 6.50 (2) 27.1 (2) 3.00 (3) 0.13 0.16
Alejandro Balde 147.7 (3) 1.50 (3) 2.04 24.7 (3) 1.77 0.09 0.09
Alfonso Pedraza 120.7 0.57 4.83 (3) 19.0 2.53 0.23 0.30 (2)
Javi Lopez 95.9 1.95 (2) 4.71 17.0 2.07 0.34 (3) 0.18
Adria Pedrosa 74.0 0.33 6.78 (1) 21.9 2.89 0.33 0.14
Diego Rico 56.7 0.65 3.98 16.3 2.59 0.46 (2) 0.14

Fran Garcia only just makes the minutes threshold with 544 clocked up so far in LaLiga 2023/24, the majority of which were early on this season. His attacking numbers are still quite impressive in terms of chances created and he leads LaLiga left backs in terms of assists per 90 minutes, although the former Rayo Vallecano man is struggling to hold down a place in the Real Madrid side.

LaLiga left backs - Fran Garcia
Photo credit: depositphotos.com

Across the Spanish capital, Samuel Lino and Rodrigo Riquelme have shared duties on the left flank for Atletico Madrid. Some of their numbers may benefit from operating as wing backs rather than full backs, but both can be happy with their efforts this season. Both have showcased their ability to influence things in the final third, despite playing in deeper roles than was the case during their respective loan spells at Valencia and Girona last season.

Johan Mojica’s figures in a struggling Osasuna side are also impressive with the Colombian ranking 2nd for crosses, touches in the attacking third and shot creating actions amongst his fellow left backs in the Spanish top flight.

In Barcelona, Alejandro Balde’s numbers don’t stand out as being exceptional, although with the attack-minded Joao Cancelo usually operating at right back, he’s perhaps needing to show a bit more restraint this term with more of Barca’s attacks going down Cancelo’s side of the pitch. The Portuguese international has recently featured at left back too, meaning Balde has dropped out of the eleven in recent weeks.

Meanwhile 21 year old Javi Lopez is another young left back who looks to have a big future at the top level with the Alaves man enjoying a good season. He ranks 2nd for successful take ons and 3rd for assists per 90 minutes.

Best defensive left backs

Player Tackles Won % of Dribblers Tackled Interceptions Ball Recoveries
Johan Mojica 1.38 75.0 (2) 1.75 (2) 8.75 (1)
Sergi Cardona 1.96 (3) 60.7 1.89 (1) 6.99 (3)
Fran Garcia 1.00 38.5 1.67 (3) 8.67 (2)
Samuel Lino 1.97 (2) 72.7 (3) 0.45 5.91
Jose Luis Gaya 2.21 (1) 65.8 0.38 6.25
Sergio Akieme 0.85 80.0 (1) 0.54 5.31
Diego Rico 1.85 55.9 1.67 (3) 6.67

Johan Mojica again features prominently when looking at the best defensive left backs in LaLiga with more ball recoveries than anyone else in his position while he ranks 2nd when it comes to interceptions and in terms of his success rate when trying to stop players running with the ball.

Another of the best left backs in Spain is Jose Luis Gaya with the Valencia captain featuring regularly for the Spanish national team and remaining key for his club. He averages more tackles won per 90 minutes than anyone else in the league in his position.

Las Palmas’ Sergi Cardona also stands out as one of the most impressive defensive full backs so far this season. He ranks in the top three in his position for tackles won, interceptions and ball recoveries while there also some good defensive numbers from Fran Garcia and Samuel Lino.

Best left backs in LaLiga by Sorare scoring matrix

Player Last 15 Games Average Last 40 Games Average
Diego Rico 60.6 (1) 49.0
Jose Luis Gaya 58.1 (2) 56.9 (1)
Sergi Cardona 55.1 (3) 50.4 (3)
Yuri Berchiche 48.9 53.2 (2)

These are average scores out of a 100 for each match a player plays according to every action they make on the pitch with decisive actions such as goals, assists, goalline clearances and last man tackles scoring highest. As opposed to the data above, this time the we factor in performances in all competitions for club and country over the last 15 and last 40 eligible games but the table retains the “500+ minutes in LaLiga 2023/24” threshold.

It’s immediately striking that there’s not a player from the “big three” clubs in sight and in fact none of the standout left backs according to Sorare’s advanced scoring matrix are even playing European football this season.

Jose Luis Gaya has been the best performing left back in the league according to this metric over the past twelve months and by some distance. However, right now, Getafe’s Diego Rico is posting the best figures with 5 assists pushing his numbers up, although he has massively over performed in terms of his expected assisted goals which suggests that may not be sustainable in the long-term.

Conclusion – Who are LaLiga’s best left backs?

Left back is a position where Spain has been quite strong at international level with Jordi Alba, Jose Luis Gaya and more recently Alejandro Balde competing for a starting role with La Roja while the likes of Alex Grimaldo and Alex Moreno are unfortunate to have not got more of a look in.

Right now though, there’s not really a standout left back in the division. It’s become something of a problem position at Real Madrid with Fran Garcia and Ferland Mendy not fully convincing which often results in Eduardo Camavinga filling in.

La Liga left wing back - Samuel Lino
Photo credit: depositphotos.com

Atletico Madrid play with wing backs with Samuel Lino and Rodrigo Riquelme still early in their careers while the same can be said of Barcelona’s Alejandro Balde who impressed last season but isn’t statistically amongst the best performing left backs in La Liga this term.

Gaya is certainly a strong candidate while Real Sociedad’s Kieran Tierney and Sevilla’s Marcos Acuña may both be in the conversation, but neither have reached 500 minutes of league action so didn’t feature in the tables above. Table topping Girona’s 22 year old Miguel Gutierrez has played enough, but didn’t rank in the top three of any of the metrics we looked at.

According to these stats, Osasuna’s Johan Mojica is perhaps the surprise standout left back in LaLiga right now in terms of his ability to make positive contributions at both ends of the pitch.

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