The best five strikers in the World
Presence, power, composure, audacity, arrogance. They’ve all got it in abundance, and possess an inexplicable, unarticulated quality that can transform any team, at any time, in any game.
But first, the characteristics that define an out and out striker should be clarified. Lionel Messi is not a striker. He started his career out wide, and has made his career by operating as a false nine, dropping deep into midfield. Cristiano Ronaldo is not a striker. He’s always played out wide (typically in a devastating manner), and has never spearheaded an attack. Nor Alexis Sanchez, for the same reason. Thomas Muller is many things, but he too, is not a conventional number nine.
A conventional number nine primarily plays off the shoulder of the last man, centrally, and is typically the focal point of a team’s attacking strategy. A much heard tactical cliche is to refer to the ‘death of the poacher’ in the 2000s, which is apt. Without being contradictory, conventional number nines still have to base a lot of their game around link up play and intelligent lateral movement. But their end product is ultimately the same: goals.
Here are the world’s best five:
Not too long ago Benzema was a not so popular figure at Madrid, and even went 1222 minutes without scoring for France in 2013. But this year has been his biggest and best, playing an integral role to both simultaneously help accommodate the vast quality so prevalent around the entire Madrid squad and also score frequently, too. Easing off Gonzalo Higuain was no mean feat, an appreciation to the fact that his team-contribution gets the best out of Ronaldo- not many world class strikers would be as compatible with Ronaldo wide to their left. This season’s he’s already bettering last term’s goal-every-game-ratio and has scored seven in twelve for France. With Madrid looking interminable, Benzema looks as if he’s finally performing at the peak his club have been waiting for.
‘He’s literally got everything’ is how John Terry summarised the brutish Brazilian-Spaniard. Robust, aggressive and ruthless. He embodies that dangerous street-venom combined with the perverse interconnection of a sophisticated poacher. His goals for Chelsea this season have mainly come from box play, which is a credit to his complete talent, because he in no uncertain terms built his Atlético reputation by being ruthless on the break. While Atlético have done well this season in his absence, they don’t quite have the attacking edge to compliment their stubborn defensive solidarity, a credit that he is (1) better than replacement Mario Mandzukic, and (2) doesn’t need many chances to score. If his temperament is kept in check and his hamstring looked after, Chelsea could well dominate the English top flight for some time to come.
There’s nothing easier in a standard football conversation than to take the morale high ground when referring to Suarez. He may play dirty and he may talk dirty, but in strict footballing terms, he’s an exceptional talent. Liverpool’s 102 Premier League goals last season and their subsequent decline in his absence reflects just how devastating he could be. He possesses that demonic quality that allows him to put absolutely everything he has into any situation- it is that desire that lands him in trouble. It’s rarely mentioned, but he’s deceptively quick- re-watch his half-way run goal against Everton last season (where, incidentally, he stayed ahead of Phil Jagielka, who is statistically the fasted player in the division) to see how he motors like a hyperactive cockerspaniel. He provided 12 assists in his partnership with Daniel Sturridge last season, and had he not been suspended for biting Branislav Ivanovic and been allowed to take penalties, he may well have broken the most amount of goals scored in a Premier league season. How he’ll mould with Neymar and Messi remains to be seen, but if he plays to his potential, you’d be a fool to write off Barca to achieve anything this year.
It’s a credit to his consistency that the Argentine, now in his eleventh professional year (he’s 26), has not gone more than two Premier League games without scoring for an entire calendar year. His game winning hattrick against Bayern Munich was a career-defining world class moment that pronounced him as Man City’s centre piece. Teams of City’s quality and financial power should never, ever, be reliant on one player, and it is a credit to Aguero that he’s single handedly carried them through Europe’s elite competition. See him in the flesh and you’ll be taken aback by his physical width- a strange assertion maybe- but he’s built like a brick sh*thouse with the mobility and balance of an Olympic gymnast- a freakish physical persuasion. That also allows him to strike a football with a staggering amount of power- (watch his meteoric finish versus Sunderland last week). Perhaps the best out of these five, although that’s difficult to prove insurmountably when he’s condemned so frequently to the sidelines.
‘The World Cup won’t be worth watching without me’. Yeah, it’s those Zlatan-isms that epitomise the arrogant and audacious package that completes the 6ft 5 Swede. It was tempting to give Robert Lewandoski this last slot, but Zlatan’s overall persona makes him unavoidable in this analysis. On his day, he’s capable of some jaw-dropping moments, that defy logic and rational description (his overhead kick versus England was almost offensive). But that should not take away from his unbelievable consistency: he’s netted 88 goals in 104 games for PSG. There’s been some decline this year, but not enough to think of him in any different terms. He’s also the only real target man in this bracket- few who accept that role in the modern game are capable of scoring so many goals so consistently. While rumours continue to surface of his negligible influence in the divided PSG dressing room, his on field antics will always deafen any far-heard calls for something to change. Few individuals in history can carry that pressure with an assumed nonchalant ease, which makes it even more staggering that he’s 33. With no noticable regression insight, he’ll likely stay at the top for a few more years.