Alphonso Davies, Sead Kolasinac, Raphael Guerreiro or Angelino: who is the Bundesliga's best left-back? - © DFL
Alphonso Davies, Sead Kolasinac, Raphael Guerreiro or Angelino: who is the Bundesliga's best left-back? - © DFL
bundesliga

Sead Kolasinac, Alphonso Davies, Raphael Guerreiro or Angelino: who is the Bundesliga's best left-back?

Schalke's Sead Kolasinac, Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies, Borussia Dortmund's Raphael Guerreiro or RB Leipzig's Angelino - who is the Bundesliga's top left-back?

bundesliga.com shines the spotlight on the super-talented quartet and dissects their game to find the best left-back in the Bundesliga.

In front of goal

Is there a more dangerous defender in European football right now than Angelino? The on-loan Manchester City man is actually Leipzig's leading scorer in all competitions with eight goals and as many assists, meaning he has been involved in a goal for Die Roten Bullen every 123 minutes.

"He is like a child that just wants to play all the time," said coach Julian Nagelsmann, who has been richly rewarded for giving his left wing-back licence to burst forward.

"He just always wants to have the ball and you see him constantly shooting it. After training he wants to continue. He has a massive playing instinct and he just wants to win all the time and play around with a ball."

Watch: Angelino vs. Guerreiro

Angelino has done both recently. He also has four Bundesliga strikes, and has registered two assists - contributing to a top-flight goal every 208 minutes this season. He also netted three times and tallied as many assists in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

It marks a significant upgrade on 2019/20 when he scored once and had two assists in the league, and was outshone by Davies, who chipped in with four goals and six assists in Bayern's title win in a magnificent breakthrough season for the Canada international.

Guerreiro has already been involved in seven Dortmund goals in the league this season, netting two of them himself - that's a goal or assist every 126 minutes on the pitch in 2020/21. With three strikes and six assists in all competitions this season, he's been involved in a goal every 154 minutes, a sparkling return only bettered by Angelino's incredible form.

Kolasinac, who has only just returned to Schalke on loan from Arsenal, more has his strengths at the opposite end of the pitch, even if he will be hoping to add to his career-stock of four Bundesliga goals.

Going forward

There is much more to goalscoring and assists for a full-back when it comes to being on the front foot.

Davies, 20, knows all about that. The juggernaut momentum he built in Bayern's treble-winning season was rudely halted by an ankle ligament injury four appearances into this campaign, but he's building up a head of steam again now. And when your top speed - a searing 22.3 miles an hour - is over a mile an hour faster than any of the other three have ever run - Kolasinac's PB is second-best at 21.2mph - that is a whole lot of very hot air.

"I just do my job I guess," Davies told bundesliga.com after setting a new Bundesliga speed record at 22.7mph last season. "I don't know when it happened [breaking the speed record] but I just do my job defensively, trying to get the ball back, but I'm happy that I can break a record."

Alphonso Davies' pace makes him a blur to most of Bayern Munich's opponents. - DFL

Though he would comfortably win a foot race, Davies - nicknamed 'Roadrunner' by Bayern teammate Thomas Müller - could learn from his peers in his use of the ball.

Guerreiro - admittedly often playing in a more advanced role - averages 1.7 'passes before a shot' per game over his career, and 2.5 this season. Angelino is at 1.1 during his BL career so far, but 2.57 this term, well ahead of Davies (1.1).

The Leipzig man also leads the way - and by far! - in terms of crosses with 53 in 14 games this season, four of which have led to a goal and a further 12 to a shot on goal. None of his counterparts have provided an assist from a cross into the box, a staple of the modern left-back's art.

Distribution

When your team has worked hard to get the ball back, you don't want to lose it: Davies and Guerreiro have very clearly taken that to heart.

Both have phenomenal stats when it comes to picking out a teammate. Guerreiro's 767 passes this season have been 88.5 per cent accurate, Davies is at 88.3, putting them well ahead of Kolasinac (80.6) and Angelino (76.8).

Raphael Guerreiro's use of the ball makes him a central part of Borussia Dortmund's set-up. - Maja Hitij/Getty Images

In fact, over nearly a century of Bundesliga appearances, Guerreiro boasts a 77.3 per cent pass completion, just 0.1 per cent worse than Davies, who has played fewer than half as many games as the UEFA EURO 2016 winner.

Guerreiro has another string to his impressive bow: long passes. Switching play to Jadon Sancho or knocking it in behind the opposing back four for Erling Haaland or Marco Reus, Guerreiro finds his man with uncanny regularity, nearly 72 per cent of the time this season. Davies, by comparison, is at a 50 per cent success rate while Angelino is down at 28 per cent.

Kolasinac actually boasts a 100 per cent success rate in the 'long pass' category, but has only attempted one in his one 2020/21 appearance for Schalke since completing his loan move from Arsenal. He does have a healthy 42 per cent ratio though over nearly 100 Bundesliga career appearances, putting him well ahead of Angelino (35 per cent).

Defending

Right, enough of the fancy Dan stuff. A defender has got to do his day job too, and this is where Kolasinac comes to the fore.

His one game so far this season saw him win no fewer than 62.5 per cent of his duels, rising to 64.3 per cent if you remove aerial challenges, the sort of bulldog tenacity that provided the platform for Schalke's stunning win over Hoffenheim on Matchday 15

Sead Kolasinac (l.) has had an immediate impact on his return to Schalke. - imago images / Poolfoto

Only Davies (58.6 per cent) comes close to the bulldozer-built Bosnia-Herzegovina international, though the Bayern man does boast a better career ratio: 57.2 per cent to 54.1. Both though have a more combative streak than Angelino (50.8 per cent this season) and Guerreiro (53.4).

Influence

Not as tangible as the raw stats, but if you look at what happened when he made his second Schalke debut, Kolasinac's effect on his side was undeniable. The Royal Blues ended a record 359-day wait for a league win: a coincidence? What do you think…

Schalke have won 48 league games with him in the side, compared to only 24 without, which speaks volumes. Coming back to the club where he first made his name after three years at Arsenal, Kolasinac was ready to lift a struggling team onto his broad shoulders.

"We have to keep our eyes forward and not look back. That's the message I want to bring with me to the team," he said. "The most important thing is that we function as a team. We have to be a cohesive unit and tackle this challenge together. No one should back down in the face of it. I want to make my presence felt and take on responsibility both in training and in the games."

That message has already clearly filtered through to Christian Gross' men, and puts Kolasinac well ahead of his peers in this regard.

Having only recently celebrated his 20th birthday and in a Bayern dressing room where the likes of Müller, Manuel Neuer and Robert Lewandowski lead by example and experience, Davies has not yet established himself among the Alpha members of the German champions' squad.

He may well do in the future, though, something that the quietly spoken Guerreiro and Angelino - for all their qualities with and without the ball - probably will never do.

And the best left-back in the Bundesliga is…

If you want attacking threat, it's Angelino. If you want leadership, it's Kolasinac. If it's pure pace, it's Davies. If you want the complete package, though, it's got to be Guerreiro.

Watch: Raphael Guerreiro, Borussia Dortmund's humble hero

"He's a very intelligent player," said ex-Dortmund coach Lucien Favre. "He's certainly one of our best players," added BVB's sporting director Michael Zorc. "He likes taking risks too, but he has found a good balance."

The Portugal international - now 27 - is a jack of all trades, but has mastered them all too. Though not an out-and-out left-back, he remains the German top-flight's top exponent in the position.

However, with the likes of Ramy Bensebaini at Borussia Mönchengladbach, Ludwig Augustinsson at Werder Bremen and Christian Günter at Freiburg among others, the Bundesliga is truly blessed at left-back.