Just try stopping them
It’s the most exciting position on the pitch, and the one every young kid wants to play in. But who are the world’s best strikers today? We’ve donned our tin foil hat and given our opinions.
Disclaimer: this list only features centre-forwards, or those who at least play there regularly, so the likes of Lionel Messi, Mohamed Salah and Neymar weren’t considered. Soz.
25. Arkadiusz Milik (Napoli)
Milk’s first two seasons at Napoli were frustrating for both player and club, with the Poland international suffering not one but two anterior cruciate ligament injuries. He belatedly got his Serie A career on track last season, though, scoring 20 goals in 47 outings for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
Capable of leading the line alone or in tandem with another frontmen, Milik excels at linking the play and bringing others into the game. He’s also strong in the air and quick across the ground, qualities which make him an ideal modern-day focal point.
24. Ciro Immobile (Lazio)
After scoring 23 goals for Torino in 2013/14, Immobile sealed a move to a Borussia Dortmund side aiming to compete with Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich. Things didn't go to plan for the Italian at Signal Iduna Park, though, and he was back in his homeland after just 12 months and three league goals in Germany.
Unlike former Torino team-mate Alessio Cerci, who's struggled to recover from a dispiriting stint at Atletico Madrid, Immobile has become one of Italy's most feared frontmen once again. He scored 19 times in all compeitions last season - a respectable tally but a significant downturn on 2017/18, when he netted a remarkable 41 goals in 47 games.
23. Wissam Ben Yedder (Sevilla)
With Romelu Lukaku seemingly destined for the Old Trafford exit door, Manchester United are reportedly set to turn their attention towards Ben Yedder - and with good reason. Only five players scored more goals in La Liga than Sevilla's main man last season, but it was in European competition where he really came to life: the Frenchman found the net eight times in the Europa League and twice in the Champions League.
A former futsal professional, Ben Yedder is technically gifted but saves his best work for the 18-yard box. He's been compared to Brazilian great Romario in the past, and at 28 would presumably jump at the chance to join a club of United's stature this summer.
22. Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Lukaku’s defects are well known: his first touch can be sloppy at times, and his link-up play isn’t as polished as some of his peers. On the goal front, the Belgian himself will have been disappointed by a return of just 15 in all competitions last season.
Yet despite all that, Lukaku has plenty to offer – which is why Antonio Conte is so keen to bring him to Inter this summer. He’s broken the 20-goal barrier in four of his last five campaigns and can dominate opposition centre-backs on his day, while he’s also more intelligent than he’s often given credit for.
21. Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)
Werner narrowly missed out on breaking the 20-goal barrier for the third successive season in 2018/19, but a record of 19 strikes in 37 appearances is still impressive. Linked with both Liverpool and Bayern Munich in recent months, the Germany international could be available on a free transfer next summer if he opts against signing a new deal at RB Leipzig.
Lightning quick and a clever mover out of possession, Werner is one of the most dangerous strikers around in transition. He’s a tidy finisher too, and has vastly improved his link-up play in the last couple of years.
20. Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo)
He may not have hit his best form at Liverpool, but Aspas has developed into one of Europe’s most reliable marksmen since re-joining boyhood club Celta in 2015.
The 31-year-old has hit double figures in La Liga for each of his four seasons in Vigo, including a 23-goal haul in 2017/18, while his 20 league strikes last term - despite missing a chunk of the campaign through injury - almost single-handedly kept his side in the top flight.
19. Duvan Zapata (Atalanta)
Zapata’s talent was always evident during spells at Sampdoria, Napoli and Udinese, but it's taken the coaching of Gian Piero Gasperini to turn the Colombian into a devastating goal machine. The 28-year-old powerhouse terrorised Serie A defences last season, firing the unfancied Bergamo side into the Champions League with 23 league goals, a total bettered only by evergreen Samp forward Fabio Quagliarella.
Strong in the air, rapid on the ground and now showing a ruthless eye in front of goal, it's little wonder that the striker has reportedly drawn interest from bigger clubs across the continent.
18. Krzysztof Piatek (AC Milan)
Piatek wasn't a name anyone would have expected to feature on this list at the start of last season.
Genoa signed the 23-year-old Pole from Cracovia to little fanfare last summer; less than a year and a £31 million January move to Milan later, he is one of the most feared strikers in Italy.
Rarely has there been a more impressive debut season for a foreign striker in Serie A, with Piatek firing in 22 league goals - nine for Milan and 13 for Genoa - and displaying a poacher’s instinct that also earned him his first caps for Poland.
17. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Having previously looked like he would supplant Sergio Aguero in the centre-forward pecking order, Jesus was forced to take a back seat at Manchester City last term. He still notched an impressive 21 goals in all competitions, though, including four in six Champions League appearances.
A fine finisher who possesses great acceleration and sharp movement, there’s little doubt that the 22-year-old has a bright future ahead of him. He recently succeeded in showing that he has even more strings to his bow at the Copa America, excelling on the right-hand side of Brazil’s attack.
16. Paco Alcacer (Borussia Dortmund)
The Spaniard has been a man reborn since departing Barcelona last summer to pull on the yellow and black shirt of Borussia Dortmund. Alcacer was simply unstoppable at the start of the campaign, smashing in 12 Bundesliga goals in his first 11 games, and while his form slowed as the campaign wore on, a debut-season haul of 18 strikes was no mean feat.
The 25-year-old’s hot streak wasn't been limited to domestic duties either, as British football fans will know only too well: he scored a brace for Spain against Wales in an October friendly, before netting against England in a 3-2 defeat four days later.
15. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal)
Lacazette’s partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang flourished under Unai Emery last season, with the Frenchman scoring 19 of their combined 50 goals in all competitions. The 27-year-old’s 13 league strikes weren’t quite enough to seal a top-four spot for the Gunners, who finished one point behind Tottenham in fifth.
As well as his form in front of goal, Lacazette impressed with his clever movement and neat link-up play. He'll be an integral part of Emery's side again next season.
14. Mario Mandzukic (Juventus)
Let’s get one thing straight: the hefty Croatian isn't your man if you're looking for a prolific scorer, but his impact shouldn’t be underestimated. The 33-year-old is a warrior, an aerial threat, a persistent menace and a player who does the hard running and dirty work that allows those around him to flourish.
Age isn’t slowing him down either: last season saw the Juventus striker record his highest tally of league goals in Italy since his debut campaign in 2015/16 with nine strikes.
13. Luka Jovic (Real Madrid)
Another player who shot into the limelight last season, Jovic was essential to a memorable season for Eintracht Frankfurt and earned a big-money summer switch to Real Madrid.
The Serbian plundered 17 goals in the Bundesliga last time out, but caught the eye of a wider audience by finding the net 10 times during Frankfurt’s run to the Europa League semi-finals. Jovic’s finishing was clinical and at the age of 21, he's surely only going to get better.
12. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
Aubameyang spoke last season of his desire to “become a legend” at Arsenal and if he continues showing the form of 2018/19, he's well on the way: the Gabonese striker netted 22 times in the Premier League to share the Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
His hot streak wasn’t limited to domestic duties either, as the 29-year-old fired in eight goals en route to the Europa League final. For his first full season at the club, that's not a bad effort.
11. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Benzema’s form was one of the few bright sparks in a desperately disappointing season for Real Madrid in 2018/19. The 31-year-old scored 30 goals in all competitions, his highest tally since 2011/12, before being named as the best French player abroad at the end of the season by France's players’ union, ahead of the likes of N'Golo Kante and Antoine Griezmann.
Only Lionel Messi outscored Benzema in La Liga last season and, with two years left on his contract in the Spanish capital, he could still play a big part in Zinedine Zidane's second spell at the helm.
10. Mauro Icardi (Inter)
Icardi is still largely untested at the very highest level, having never appeared at a World Cup and only just completed his first (unsuccessful) season in the Champions League. He’s also not shy of off-field controversy, and his latest spat with Inter last term looks set to bring an end to his San Siro career.
There’s no doubting Icardi’s ability, though: the former Sampdoria sharp-shooter has found the net 124 times in an Inter career spanning 219 matches. The Argentinian is eyeing a move to Juventus, who could provide the stage for him to climb even higher up this list.
9. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
Firmino isn’t a striker in the mould of most players covered in this list, and would probably play a more withdrawn role under another manager, but he’s been used as the central attacker for the vast majority of Jurgen Klopp’s tenure at Anfield and therefore qualifies for selection.
Firmino’s goal record – 43 in his 102 games for Liverpool since the start of 2017/18 – is good rather than great, but it’s his ability as a facilitator which really sets him apart. Intelligent, dynamic and technically gifted, the selfless Brazilian invariably brings out the best in those around him.
8. Edinson Cavani (PSG)
Cavani seems to have shaken off his unfortunate habit of missing clear-cut chances in high-profile matches, but his prior reputation as an unreliable striker was always a little unfair. The Uruguayan has proven his class since being shifted to his favoured centre-forward role in 2016, having previously spent large chunks of his PSG career out on the flank to accommodate Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Cavani’s willingness to fulfil such a role says plenty about his work ethic and attitude, but he’s also a genuine superstar on his day; 193 goals in 279 outings for PSG is a remarkable record, and the former Napoli man also outshone compatriot Luis Suarez at the 2018 World Cup.
7. Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
Suarez turned 32 in January but remains one of the deadliest centre-forwards around. Only one player scored more goals in La Liga last season (guess who?), which means the Barcelona frontman has netted 177 times in 247 appearances for the Catalan giants – a particularly impressive record when you consider that the Uruguayan offers plenty more besides goals.
Technically gifted and surprisingly strong, Suarez is the archetypal South American striker. He can drop deep or sprint in behind, is extremely well-rounded, and on his day is virtually impossible to play against.
6. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Lewandowski remains one of the greatest strikers in the game – as he continues to demonstrate at Bayern Munich. He’s broken the 40-goal barrier in all competitions in each of the last four seasons, and his touch, movement and link-up play are still outstanding.
The Poland international turns 31 in August and his hopes of securing a dream move to Real Madrid appear to have faded. Nevertheless, Lewandowski still has the ability and big-game temperament to make the difference in the Champions League - something he's never struggled with previously, having struck 36 times in 52 Bayern appearances in the competition.
5. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
After committing his future to Atletico Madrid during the 2018 World Cup, Griezmann underwent a change of heart 12 months later. He's now on the verge of completing a move to Barcelona, which could finally see him win his first La Liga title after five seasons each at Atletico and Real Sociedad
Griezmann is most adept as a second striker who links play behind an out-an-out frontman, but he can also lead the line himself with aplomb: the 27-year-old scored 21 goals in all competitions last term, including four in eight Champions League appearances.
4. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Mbappe was influential in France's World Cup triumph last summer, with his scintillating showing against Argentina in the last 16 particularly memorable. The youngster followed that international success up with an incredible individual season at club level, as the forward scored 39 goals in 43 matches in all competitions.
That haul saw him scoop the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award, and his next target should be lifting the Champions League trophy which continues to elude PSG. Having hinted that his long-term future may lie away from the Parc des Princes, Mbappe could be at the centre of a huge bidding war next summer.
3. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
When Gabriel Jesus hit the ground running following his arrival at Manchester City in January 2017, Aguero must have feared for his future at the club. Pep Guardiola wasn’t exactly glowing in his praise of the Argentine during his first few months at the Etihad Stadium, but the Argentina international has battled back to remind everyone why he’s one of the best strikers on the planet.
A natural finisher who possesses an outstanding goalscoring record – 231 in 338 games for City – the ex-Atletico Madrid man has become a much more rounded striker under Guardiola, with his link-up play having come on brilliantly in the last couple of seasons.
2. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Kane may still be waiting for his first trophy, but he could hardly have done much more for the Tottenham and England causes. Top scorer at the World Cup in Russia last summer, he was once again among the Premier League’s leading goal-getters last season, and also helped Spurs reach their first Champions League final.
Kane has now scored 159 times in his last 227 outings for the north Londoners, but he’s far more than just a penalty-box predator. A brilliant passer who excels at dropping deep and creating chances for his team-mates, Kane has multiple strings to his bow.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
OK, so we're cheating a little bit here – Ronaldo mostly played off the left for Juventus last season after ending a nine-year association with Real Madrid to join the Bianconeri, but he's become a predatory striker by nature and is proving as much in a prolific campaign in Serie A.
The Portuguese preener is 34 now but he still scored 28 goals in all competitions last term, helping Juve win another domestic title. A quarter-final defeat by Ajax in the Champions League will have stung, but don't bet against Ronaldo firing the Old Lady to continental glory next term.
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