The centre-forward/striker position in football is one of the most important and complicated roles a player can play, with a striker usually being a man that can not only finish attacks in stunning fashion but also help bring other players from the midfield into the game by holding up the ball.
Simply put, without a striker a team cannot score goals. With times changing in modern football as managers and teams are beginning to use less and less strikers by reverting to formations such as 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 instead of the traditional 4-4-2, it is still essential to value the out and out, conventional strikers we have left in the world today. This list looks at the best 5 forwards in the world, those who are the spearhead of their teams’ attacks and lead the frontline by example.
(It is also important to note I have looked at the best five out and out strikers, therefore players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney have not been added due to the fact that they play in slightly more advanced roles for their sides)
Three notable mentions
Stephan El Shaarawy – Future prospect El Shaarawy has scored 18 goals in 30 appearances for the Rossoneri despite only being at the ripe age of 20-however AC Milan’s slump in Seria A means he cannot quite be viewed with the same respect as those in the top 5.
Robert Lewandowski - The Polish hitman has netted 21 times in 31 appearances but Dortmund’s failure to replicate the impact they had on German football last year means he narrowly misses out on this list.
Luis Suarez - Controversial striker Luis Suarez has found the back of the net 23 times in 36 appearances for Liverpool and over a quarter of their total goals this season have been scored by the Uruguayan. (32% to be exact) Although Suarez has been crucial to the reds’ season, as these statistics clearly illustrate, those in the top five have each had better seasons with their respective clubs.
5. Mario Mandzukic
Despite grabbing the attention of many people with a few glistening although limited performances at Euro 2012, Mario Mandzukic is probably a man nobody expected to make the Bayern Munich first team, let alone the list ranking the five best strikers in the world. The stocky Croatian finished last season at Vfl Wolfsburg with a goalscoring record of 12 goals in 33 appearances, disappointing stats which clearly do not reflect the formidable form the striker is currently in now. Perhaps something even more impressive than his impact on the Bavarians this season has been his goal tally, with the hitman scoring 18 goals in 26 appearances and looking more and more likely to claim the Bundesliga golden boot (a honour many believed would be captured with ease by the likes of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar or Robert Lewandowski) Although not being the top pick, Mandzukic’s brilliant form hasn’t waned from the start of the season and this combined among a stroke of luck with first choice striker Mario Gomez falling victim to an eye injury has seen him be the surprise inclusion in this list, and at the prime age of 26 you can be sure of the fact he will continue to showcase his hidden talents for at least another few years at the top.
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
A man that is well known for his skill on the pitch as well as his notorious antics off it, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a player that has always been consistently seen as one of the world’s best. Nevertheless, Ibrahimovic shocked the world once again after PSG announced they had completed his signing to the club, with many predicting he would dominate french football. The 6″5 frontman lived up to those expectations as this season has seen the Swedish striker score 23 times in 30 appearances for PSG, highlighting his success in a league which is still developing among Europe’s finest. The success he has found is further emphasized by the gap in goal tally between him and the other strikers plying their trade in Ligue 1 as he leads the goalscorer standings by a staggering 9 goals. With the sudden rise of PSG and its further expansion through world football amid the signatures of some big players including the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura and Ibrahimovic himself; it is evident the striker will still have a couple of years at the top-much to our delight.
3. Edinson Cavani
Edinson Cavani has been taking Seria A by storm since securing his switch to Napoli in 2010, scoring some exciting but also vital goals for the Azzuri since then. Cavani is seen as a special talent because of the recognizable and different roles he can play as a striker, as he is able to switch from utilising his 6″ frame to provide an aerial assault on goal, to using his technical abilities to dazzle defences and create a goal almost out of nothing. It is these unique and exceptional traits that have seen him attract the interest of top clubs this year, including the likes of Chelsea and Bayern Munich with a move seeming imminent this summer. Nonetheless, this season he has notched a remarkable 27 goals in 29 appearances and is looking almost certain to beat his astonishing career best of 33 goals as Napoli are chasing their third Seria A title. With the World Cup also coming up in a year and a half, it can be anticipated that Cavani will showcase the best of his aptitude in Uruguayan colours and continue to reinforce his well-deserved status among the world’s best.
Colombian striker Falcao has been one of the most frequently talked about players in recent years, with many speculating about his future with Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid poised to battle for his signature in the coming summer. A gifted footballer described by many as one of the most complete strikers in football and possessing natural finishing ability, Falcao has been regarded very highly when compared to the best strikers in the world. He is also known for his notorious heading qualities and attributes, with many defences struggling to contain the threat he poses from above in front of goal, despite just being 5″10. Second to only the two finest players in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi (yet possessing a better goal per minute ratio than both of them) with his goal tally of an amazing 24 goals in 25 games for Atletico Madrid this season, this extraordinary tally is a clear sign Falcao is in the prime of his life, and if a big money move to a better club can be secured – it would only help cement his legacy as one of the best strikers to ever come out of Colombia.
1. Robin Van Persie
Robin Van Persie was somebody who many thought would be remembered for his injury-plagued career more than his unbelievable eye for goal and unparalleled goal-scoring ability. However, when Van Persie returned and finished last season with 37 goals in a season-high 48 appearances-it was clear Van Persie was back and firing on all cylinders. However, this spectacular form saw the dutch hitman find himself in a contract dispute with Arsenal during the summer of 2012 – and Sir Alex Ferguson saw a major opportunity to prise him away from the Gunners as Van Persie was offered the prospect of winning trophies. (A likelihood which was and still is decreasing swiftly for the Gunners) Since then, he hasn’t looked back recording 23 goals in 32 appearances. Despite strikers enjoying the prime of their careers during the ages between 27 to 31 on average, Van Persie only seems to be entering this period at the age of 29, which is a dangerous and indeed worrying notion for other clubs in the Premier League and undeniably Europe. Yet the he is not just any average striker, as his never-ending awareness and intelligent positioning factored in with his incredible prowess in front of goal means in my opinion, he is the best striker in the world at this current moment in time and there are few if any who can replicate the magic the Dutchman creates in front of goal.