The role of left-back in women’s football seems increasingly to have become a hybrid position with a number of players on this list equally comfortable playing at left-back or left-wing. Here are the ten best women’s left backs in the world right now.
Best women’s left backs in the world: 10. Demi Stokes
Manchester City full-back Demi Stokes has been an integral part of the team since 2015. In that time she has won the WSL, three FA Cups and three League Cup titles as a regular starter at left-back. A player who errs on the defensive side of the fullback game, she was part of the England squad which won Euro 2022, although Rachel Daly was selected at left-back ahead of her. Stokes was previously named in the PFA WSL Team of the Year in 2018 and 2019.
9. Carson Pickett
Carson Pickett has long been an advocate for limb difference, having been the first player with limb difference to ever play for the US Women’s National Team. The North Carolina Courage left-back joined the club at the start of the 2021 season having previously played for the OL Reign and Orlando Pride. Despite the Courage having a relatively poor season by their standards, Pickett still finished top of the NWSL assist charts, recording 6 during the 2022 season.
8. Fridolina Rolfö
It might seem somewhat strange to include winger Fridolina Rolfo on a list of the best left-backs in the world but the truth is her performances from the position at Barcelona cannot go ignored. There was initially some surprise when Barcelona manager Jonatan Giraldez moved Rolfo back to the more defensive position, with many assuming it to be a stopgap.
But Rolfo has excelled for Barcelona there, contributing to their relentless attack as well as showing herself to be very defensively aware. Despite signing highly rated fullback Nuria Rabano in the summer, Rolfo has continued to play in the left-back role and given she still managed to record the second-highest number of assists in the Champions League last season, it is easy to see why.
7. Katie McCabe
Katie McCabe is another left winger who can also play at left-back with the Arsenal player having won the club’s Player of the Season award in 2020/21, the year she predominantly played there. Now she regularly rotates between both positions for the WSL side, showcasing her usual relentless enthusiasm in both.
Never afraid of a meaty tackle, McCabe is also known for her spectacular long-range finishing. She captains the Ireland side who are headed to their first-ever World Cup in 2023, with 7 goals and 4 assists in qualifying demonstrating her significant on-field contributions.
6. Steph Catley
The reason Katie McCabe plays less at left-back now is due to the presence of Steph Catley at Arsenal. Catley arrived at the club as one of the most in-demand left-backs in the world, but a series of injuries derailed her start to life in London. However, she has since gone on to establish herself as an essential member of Arsenal’s squad who particularly excels at crossing and dead ball scenarios, recently scoring an Olympico against Leicester City.
Currently actually deputising as the left-sided centre-back for Arsenal in the absence of Rafaelle Souza, Catley has shown herself to be a versatile and reliable player whether being used at full-back or centre-back.
5. Olga Carmona
Another player who moonlights as a winger and a full-back, Olga Carmona showed her ability when she was brought into the Spain starting lineup in place of Leila Ouahabi ahead of their quarter-final against England at Euro 2022. Despite eventually losing the game in extra time, Carmona looked assured and defensively solid, keeping Beth Mead relatively quiet during the game.
It demonstrated a player who has honed her all-round ability to be useful in either a more attacking or defensive lineup. It remains to be seen where she eventually settles but she could clearly have a very successful career at left-back.
4. Felicitas Rauch
Part of one of the most highly anticipated teams of this season, Wolfsburg left-back Felicitas Rauch has drastically improved over the past year or so. Previously weak when it came to her positioning, her performances as part of the Germany team which reached the final of Euro 2022 showed that Rauch has become a much more reliable defender.
She was rewarded with a new contract at Wolfsburg, extending her time at the club to 2025. With seven assists in last season’s Frauen-Bundesliga, the most of any defender, she is adding defensive solidity to her already existing attacking threat.
3. Hanna Glas
Bayern Munich’s Hanna Glas does not have much luck with injury. She is once again out for the entire season, having previously suffered three ACL injuries. The 29-year-old Swede was part of the Bayern Munich side that ended Wolfsburg’s dominance to win the Frauen Bundesliga back in 2020/21, starting 21 of her side’s 22 matches.
A hard worker on the pitch, Glas ran further than any other player in last season’s Champions League and has been a key part of the Sweden teams that came third at the 2019 World Cup and won Silver at the 2020 Olympics.
2. Sakina Karchaoui
There was a point where it looked like Sakina Karchaoui was not quite at the level required when she left Lyon after spending only one season at the club. Picked up by Paris Saint-Germain however, Karchaoui has gone from strength to strength over the past two seasons, cementing her place as Corinne Diacre’s first-choice left-back in the French national team. She was named in the French league’s team of the season last year and the year before.
1. Selma Bacha
In the 2021/22 Champions League final, the battle between Barcelona’s Caroline Graham Hansen, arguably one of the best wingers in the world, and Lyon’s 21-year-old fullback Selma Bacha looked like it could be a mismatch. In the end, Bacha not only kept Graham Hansen almost entirely under wraps, she still had time to influence proceedings at the other end of the pitch, adding an assist to her total of 9 across the competition. That was the most assists of any player in the UWCL.
It was actually the fourth Champions League trophy Bacha had won at Lyon, having previously started in the 2018/19 edition and come off the bench in the 2019/20 one. Although used more often at left wing for her national team with Karchaoui being selected at full-back, there is no doubt that Bacha is the most accomplished left-back in the world right now, and she is only 21.