Why would every club want to sign a left-footed centre-back?

In the world of football, the left-footed player has long been considered aesthetically superior – more skilled, technically talented and easier on the eye – than those who rely on their right, although anecdotal evidence is largely or not supported by science.

In the old days, this often led to the idea that a left-back in a four-way center back tended to be more cultured and comfortable on the ball in a defensive pair, while the right-back was often seen as a pure defender, tasked only with defensive duties such as Inhale the looming danger and take care of the first duels.

Since the art of defense has moved on to this theory it has not stood the test of time, but the value of defending defenders with different natural feet remains. There are a few obvious reasons why this works: When entering a one-on-one mode, the defender is understandably more comfortable dealing with an opponent whose strong foot is closest to the byline, so any cross attempt inside the penalty area can be fended off with the defender’s stronger foot and movement position. The body looks more natural. Admittedly, this is less important today with wide strikers or upturned wings, where they have two feet or the mind cuts inside and shoots instead of looking for a cross as Arjen Robben used to.

Likewise, as a general rule – although there are countless exceptions – defenders, who tend to be less agile than attackers, prefer the rotation and position of their bodies, often in a split second, with the weight of their powerful feet. In a high-speed game divided into an infinite number of fragmented moments, getting out of the top of such situations is likely to be crucial.

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In an era of more flexible defenders – both tactically and physically – the preference for a left-sided center back over the left is usually present in the building phase or the constructive side of the game. With central defenders expected to initiate attacks with the first pass and engage in the possession side, the demand for accuracy is higher (and logically easier to execute with a stronger foot), while better line-breaking angles can also be found in crowded central areas.

Then there are technical details to consider such as a convincing pass, being comfortable when dribbling successfully away from danger zones, or guiding a Crossfield substitution ball – all of which are best done on the stronger foot.

Furthermore, with so many clubs offering three centre-backs, the preference of the left player over the left (or vice versa) of the trio takes on even greater importance. Expecting wide central defenders to advance as the ball slip out of the defense line – and this is best done with clean, natural touches – and even take high positions at the top of the field as the “inside full”, a pass is a necessity. higher resolution. When advancing into the attacking areas, linebackers also sometimes end up in cross positions in the final third, making the delivery point of paramount importance.

Obviously, nowadays, there are plenty of examples of midfielders who play with practically two feet, which means it doesn’t matter where they are in their ranks, as well as some world-class defenders who used to play on the left — – Chelsea Kalidou Coulibaly And Liverpool Virgil van Dijk being prime examples. However, only an estimated 20% of players at the top of the game play with a normal left foot (with an equal number classified as two feet), so an underrepresentation of a quality fullback is also important. Mathematics, simple economics, and supply and demand too. Logically, this scarcity obviously affects the transfer fee.

Here are five of the best players playing in European football at the moment.

Arguably the best left-footed (though classified as two-footed by some) central defender in the game, the Austria international’s well-known flexibility – he was originally a left-back at Bayern Munich before being turned into central defender and midfield – makes him one One of the most versatile players too. Few other top level defenders are also able to perform as a winger with excellent cross capabilities as well as directing play from a deep midfield role.

As a central defender, Alaba makes the most of the skill set he uses from both offensive and strategic roles: his long, accurate diagonal passes from behind often pose a threat 60 yards off the pitch and his impressive short passes (63 passes per game on average) and he almost came up short. The ball turns him into something like a playmaker.

Gabriel’s advantage is certainly more on the physical side of the game than some of his predecessors at the center. Tough in defence, proactive and seeing danger early on – as well as a constant threat from consistent attacks – he is currently one of the most efficient defenders in his position at the top of European football.

Although not very adventurous while traveling in possession, the Brazil international can also control the ball; He often finds options in the middle with streak-breaking passes, and the sensitivity of his left foot makes him initiate attacks with a well-placed long ball.

Bastoni’s emergence as one of the best ball-playing defenders in Serie A has attracted huge interest from abroad. So far, Inter have managed to hold on to the Italy international, who excels in the selection of progressive passes and participation in the circulation of the ball (average of 1.1 passes per game this season) when rising from the left position in the three full-backs for Inter.

Smooth on the ball, Bastoni – who thrives particularly well as a left-of-three defender – shows a rare understanding of the game at his age, which is evident in his early interceptions and reading of the striker’s next move. His aerial game, once considered a weakness, has also shown signs of improvement (62% success rate last season), making the 23-year-old one of the most complete left-sided defenders.

While Spain is still trying to work on an ideal central defense duo in the postSergio Ramos Era, the Villarreal player does the left center back on his back four times on his own. Torres may not be the most aggressive or voracious striker, but he is exceptionally strong at picking the right positions, covering defensive imbalances and reading them early.

In possession, he is just as clever – he habitually advances through the first line to press with ease and picks the right move in midfield or further off the field. For a defender of his size, 6-foot-3, Torres is deceptively quick over short distances and in turns.

At first glance, with his no-nonsense appearance and assertiveness in duels, Gvardiol appears to be the traditional defensive “enforcer”, but looking deeper it quickly becomes clear that the 20-year-old already possesses most of the features of a full-back.

Although his proactive style is arguably better suited to a three-man central defense line – where he can take high positions, move forward with the ball and link up with left-backs and creative midfielders – Gvardiol is adjusting to a slightly more consistent role in the four-man defense this season. Being particularly strong at spotting early offensive runs (and having the technical quality/passing quality to choose), the Croatia international usually sees a lot of the ball when he builds his side from behind. One of the most sought-after young midfielders in European football, he is said to be watched by every major club on the continent, including Man City and Chelsea.

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