Over the last few campaigns, several top clubs have dipped into the transfer window to sign left-footed centre-backs to bolster their defences. Many managers have preferred to field a left-footed defender alongside a right-footed one in the heart of defence for a number of reasons.
One of the most interesting aspects of a left-right combination in central defence is that it opens up more passing angles during the first phase, allowing players to find their teammates with better precision while pushing higher up the pitch.
Pep Guardiola has been known to deploy this combination in central defence, and explained why left-footed defender Aymeric Laporte plays an important role in his Manchester City side. He explained;
"There are many actions to build up — to make our play quicker, better — but we can’t do them. Not because the other players are not good but because [Aymeric] Laporte is the only left-footed central defender."
While there aren't too many left-footed centre-backs available in the market, there are some currently plying their trade at the highest level of European football. On that note, here are the five best left-footed centre-backs in the world.
#5 Aymeric Laporte | Manchester City
Manchester City and Pep Guardiola dropped a massive €65m to sign Aymeric Laporte in the 2017/18 season's winter window to fulfill Pep Guardiola's request for a left-footed central defender. In subsequent campaigns, he's managed to drastically improve a struggling defence, proving why he was brought in for such a big fee.
Although he's been sidelined due to injuries and has played second fiddle to John Stones this season, Laporte's ability on the ball has been a massive addition to Manchester City. He's a rock in defence who is comfortable bringing the ball out from the back and spraying it around the pitch with ease.
It remains to be seen if he will continue to play a second-choice role at the Etihad, but Laporte remains one of the most gifted left-footed defenders in Europe.
#4 Pau Torres | Villarreal
Pau Torres is one of the most in-demand centre-backs heading into the transfer season this summer. The 24-year-old Villarreal man, a full Spanish international, has had an excellent couple of campaigns at the Estadio de la Ceramica and has improved even further under Unai Emery.
Torres has emerged as one of the best ball-playing defenders in LaLiga Santander. This season, he's averaged over 60 passes per game for the Yellow Submarine, completed 25 of his 29 dribbles, and ranks third for progressive carrying distance with the ball, only behind Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong.
His ability on the ball, coupled with his monstrous physique (he's 6'3") make Torres one of the most sought-after players in the transfer market, with the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid, and other clubs queueing up to sign him.
#3 Presnel Kimpembe | Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain star Presnel Kimpembe is one of the many impressive centre-backs France has produced over the last few years, but he is one of the only few left-footed ones, giving him a unique advantage. The 23-year-old starred for his club last year in the UEFA Champions League as he faced off with some of the best players in Europe and managed to hold his own.
Kimpembe is excellent on the ball, boasting the second-highest passing accuracy among any Ligue 1 players this year after Jason Denayer while averaging over 70 passes per game. He's also been solid at the back for Les Bleus whenever called upon by Didier Deschamps.
At 23, Kimpembe is already one of PSG's most important players across all fronts and is sure to get even better in the coming years.
#2 Alessandro Bastoni | Internazionale
Internazionale have made some questionable decisions in the transfer market over the last few seasons, but signing young Atalanta academy product Alessandro Bastoni for a massive €31m has proven to be an excellent move so far. The young Italian, who spent some time on loan away at Atalanta and Parma, has had an excellent Serie A campaign for Antonio Conte's side.
Usually starting on the left of a back-three, the young left-footed defender has been excellent at carrying the ball forward, switching play, and finding his teammates with superbly weighted passes across the pitch. Bastoni ranks fifth for touches in Serie A and sixth for progressive carrying distance, highlighting how comfortable he is on the ball.
The Nerazzurri appear to have uncovered a true gem in Bastoni. The towering Italian has started 29 of Inter's 33 Serie A games this year and helped them attain a staggering 11-point lead at the top.
#1 David Alaba | Bayern Munich
David Alaba's permanent switch to centre-back has been a game-changer for Bayern Munich as he's added another dimension to their backline. The Austrian's ability to bring the ball out of the back effortlessly and push his side higher up the pitch has been phenomenal, and it has been a key feature of Hans-Dieter Flick's rendition of the side.
Being a full-back by trade and having played in midfield on several occasions, Alaba's ability on the ball has never been in question. These qualities have been brought to the fore playing at central defence as Alaba has been vital in driving his side forward. The Austrian has played more passes into the final third than any Bundesliga player this season (218) and ranks fourth for touches, progressive passes, progressive carries and carrying distance.
If reports are to be believed, Alaba is set to join Real Madrid come summer, which could give the Blancos a superb option in defence as he will be the only left-footed central defender in their side.