The era of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and maybe even Gareth Bale has gone. There are better wingers hugging the touchline and terrorizing the opposition full-backs at the moment. FOX Sports Asia ranked the top 5 wingers in the world and some really tough calls had to be made.
#5. Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah is the defending PFA, FWA and the Premier League Player of the season after a record-breaking 2017/18 season, but he has to settle for fifth place in this list for two reasons.
Firstly, Salah is in a bad run of form and is without a goal in seven games now. In his last ten games in all competitions, he only has one goal and one assist. This drastic drop in form cannot be ignored but his form before that keeps him in the top 5.
Secondly, Salah has moved from the right-wing and operated in a centre-forward role in many games this season. However, it is safe to say that the Egyptian’s best position is still on the right wing where he can exploit the space left by the full-backs and also cut in and shoot with his left foot.
Despite his recent drop in form, Salah still has 20 goals and eight assists to his name in 41 games across all competitions. For Liverpool, he has 64 goals and 22 assists in 91 games so far.
Neymar cost PSG a world-record transfer fee in 2017 but the fact is, the Brazilian is worth the money and his track record at club and international level speak for itself. However, like Salah, Neymar is not higher up this list for two similar reasons.
Firstly, Neymar has often enjoyed a free role at PSG behind Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe but he is predominantly a left-winger. Secondly, Neymar has a terrible track record of injuries in recent years and he has missed crucial Champions League knockout stage games in his two seasons with PSG.
Before Neymar picked up an injury this season, he racked up 20 goals and nine assists for PSG. In total, he has 48 goals and 25 assists in 53 games across all competitions for the Parisian club.
Although the Brazilian’s numbers are fantastic, the fact that he plays in a one-horse league cannot be overlooked and that’s also a reason why Neymar is fourth in this list.
#3. Sadio Mane
Placing Sadio Mane above both Neymar and Salah will raise a few eyebrows but there is evidence to support Mane’s position in this list.
Firstly, Salah and Neymar are often the focal points of their respective team’s attacks which gives them lesser defensive responsibilities than Mane. Secondly, unlike the other two players who have played up front and in a free role, Mane has spent almost the entirety of his career playing on either wing.
The Senegalese international has scored at least ten goals in each of his five seasons in the Premier League which includes two seasons with Southampton. In the Premier League alone, he has 61 goals in 152 games of which 40 were for Liverpool in only 85 games.
For Liverpool, Mane has 53 goals and 21 assists in 111 games so far but what makes him extra special is his incredible work rate, willingness to track back and the ability to play on either wing with ease.
This season, Mane has 17 goals in 29 Premier League games and the tally is the second highest in the league behind Sergio Aguero who has 18. However, all of Mane’s goals have come from open play and no player has more or even the same number of goals from open play than the 26-year-old. Also, he has 11 goals in his last 11 games for Liverpool.
#2. Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard is not a prolific goal-scoring winger like the others on this list but the fact that he has been in the PFA Team of the Year four times in six seasons and won many other individual awards including the FIFA World Cup Silver Ball, PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the Premier League Player of the season tells you a lot about the Belgian’s influence.
Hazard has 105 goals and 86 assists for Chelsea in 339 games. He also has 30 goals for Belgium in only 100 games.
This season, he has 13 goals and 11 assists in the league for the Blues and he is only one of two players in Europe’s Top 5 leagues with ten or more goals and assists. Oh, the other player is Lionel Messi.
The present season will most likely be Hazard’s final season with Chelsea as he is being linked with a big move to Real Madrid next summer. Premier League superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez have improved their goals tally in the La Liga and Hazard could also turn into a prolific goal scorer at Real Madrid.
#1. Raheem Sterling
In 2015, eyebrows were raised when Manchester City paid £50 million to sign Raheem Sterling from Liverpool. He arrived at Man City as a player with immense potential but his first two seasons at the club were good but not spectacular.
It was evident that Sterling had immense potential but his decision making and finishing often let him down during his initial years at Man City. He showed signs for improvement in his first season under Guardiola and then took his game up a notch in the 2017/18 season.
During Manchester City’s record-breaking 2017/18 season, Sterling scored 23 goals and assisted 13 more in 46 games across all competitions. This season, he already has 19 goals and 13 assists to his name in 40 games and Man City have at least 11 more games left to play.
The England international is one of the first names on the team sheet for both club and country at the moment despite the immense competition for places.
Sterling is still only 24-years-old and he already has 63 goals and 63 assists for Man City in 180 games.