Ranked! The 30 best strikers in Premier League history

As English football enters a new golden age of goal machines, FourFourTwo rates the greatest strikers of the Premier League era. Goalkeepers beware...

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30. Emmanuel Adebayor


  • Games: 242
  • Goals: 97
  • GPG: 0.40
  • Titles: 0

“I can’t wait for the game to finish. I’m hungry. Do you know a good restaurant in London?"

Adebayor’s hunger for actual football had diminished towards the end of his top-flight career – hence the mid-game food enquiry, as told by defender Brede Hangeland – but at his very best, he was simply devastating.

The Togo frontman netted 24 league goals for the Gunners in 2007-08, becoming the first player to bag hat-tricks home and away against the same team in the same campaign, versus Derby.

Then came the switch to Manchester City and the famous knee-slide in front of the Arsenal fans. Emmanuel bagged 14 in his first season at the Etihad, and 17 in his debut campaign for Spurs, but his form faded prior to a one-goal spell at Crystal Palace.

29. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer


  • Games: 235 
  • Goals: 91 
  • GPG: 0.39
  • Titles: 6

“I got to Old Trafford and the tour guide thought I was going for a tour. He was talking away and then he asked me, ‘So what are you doing here?’”

Solskjaer informed the tour guide that, actually, he had arrived from Norway to sign for Manchester United.

Eleven years later and he had written his name into club folklore – not just for the winner in the 1999 Champions League Final, but also for playing a key role in just the six Premier League crowns.

Nicknamed the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’, he also became regarded as a super sub: a third of Ole’s league appearances were off the bench, meaning he impressively found the net once in every 150 minutes.

Four strikes as a sub away at Nottingham Forest in 1999 was perhaps his greatest Premier League performance.

28. Jermain Defoe


  • Games: 483
  • Goals: 161
  • GPG: 0.30
  • Titles: 0

A consistent goalscorer, Jermain Defoe has hit double figures in eight different Premier League seasons, and is the only player to have netted five goals in one half, in Tottenham’s 9-1 demolition of Wigan in 2009.

Back playing on the south coast with Bournemouth this season, having also represented Portsmouth, there remains debate about his overall contribution to team success – he’s suffered relegation at West Ham and Sunderland during his top-flight career.

But no one can doubt Defoe’s finishing ability: after making his Premier League bow for the Hammers at Middlesbrough 16 years ago, he’s now in seventh place in the all-time scoring list and holds the record for the most goals as a sub – 23 - including a screamer against Man City in 2013.

27. Jurgen Klinsmann


  • Games: 56
  • Goals: 29
  • GPGL: 0.52
  • Titles: 0

True, more than 200 players have scored more Premier League goals, though few have made quite the same impact as the ex-Germany international.

One of the first major foreign signings of the Premier League era when he left Monaco for the Lilywhites in 1994, Klinsi was disliked in England following Italia 90. 

But he turned opinion around when asking, “Are there any diving schools in London?” at his unveiling, before marking a debut header in a 4-3 win at Sheffield Wednesday by collapsing on the Owls’ turf in celebration.

He netted 21 goals and was crowned Football Writers’ Player of the Year but departed after just the one campaign. Chairman Alan Sugar swiftly declared he wouldn’t wash his car with Jürgen’s shirt, yet the German returned on loan three seasons later, helping Tottenham avoid relegation.

26. Les Ferdinand


  • Games: 351
  • Goals:149
  • GPG: 0.42
  • Titles: 0

“People don’t think Les Ferdinand, former England international, but Les Ferdinand, bloke who wrecked the Blue Peter garden.” 

He didn’t – despite rumours that began when he made an ill-judged joke about the 1983 incident – and no one can boast a higher Premier League goal tally despite not converting a single penalty.

Sir Les didn’t need any spot-kicks: he bagged 101 goals in the first five seasons of the Premier League, joining Newcastle United from Queens Park Rangers in 1995.

Kevin Keegan’s ill-fated title tilt proved the closest Ferdinand came to winning the league, but he continued to find the net at Spurs, West Ham and Leicester – where he scored 12 times in the season of his 37th birthday – before a stint with Bolton, commuting to Lancashire in his helicopter, naturally.

25. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink


  • Games: 288
  • Goals: 127
  • GPG: 0.44
  • Titles: 0

“On the pitch he always looked annoyed with everyone,” his Chelsea team-mate Gianfranco Zola once said. It was a rage that drove the Dutchman to goalscoring success.

Only three players have topped the Premier League scoring charts with more than one team – Robin van Persie, Alan Shearer and Hasselbaink.

Real name Jerrel, the powerful striker scored 18 times with Leeds, sharing the golden boot award with Michael Owen and Dwight Yorke in 1998-99. 

Following a season with Atletico Madrid (where he scored 24 goals in 34 games), he netted 23 times in 35 appearances for Chelsea in 2000-01, including four in a 6–1 rout against Coventry.

Possessing a rocket of a right foot, Jimmy helped a resurgent Blues to finish second in the standings in 2004 before moves to Middlesbrough and Charlton Athletic.

24. Romelu Lukaku


  • Games: 212
  • Goals: 97
  • GPG: 0.46
  • Titles: 0

Since arriving in the Premier League, it’s seemed Romelu Lukaku has had a point to prove. In 2011, the Belgian frontman had a huge reputation, scoring 41 goals for Anderlecht at only 18 years of age.

Despite Chelsea paying £17m, he started just the one league game before being loaned out – to West Brom, then Everton – with the suggestion he must prove himself a top-flight forward. That he did, scoring 17 goals for the Baggies and 15 in his year at Goodison Park.

Yet Chelsea – and Jose Mourinho – weren’t convinced, and sold him to Everton. In an inconsistent team, Lukaku scored 53 goals in three campaigns, improving his finishing and link-up play all the while.

Suddenly Chelsea were keen again but he opted for Manchester United (and, ironically, Mourinho). Lukaku’s start to this season hammered home the point he’s now a top-flight striker and a top-drawer one.

23. Harry Kane


  • Games: 142
  • Goals: 101
  • GPG: 0.71
  • Titles: 0 

There’s little doubt in Harry Kane’s mind exactly when his rise to elite-level striker kicked in.

“That match at Villa Park was definitely a turning point,” he told FFT in 2015, speaking of a 2-1 win the previous November. “Before that, I’d shown what I could do in Europa League and League Cup matches, but then coming on in the Premier League and scoring the winner in injury time was a real statement that I was ready.”

From there, he hasn’t looked back – it was the first of 21 Premier League goals of that season, with 25 more following in 2015-16 and 29 last term. In scoring his second in the 4-0 win at Huddersfield he matched Cristiano Ronaldo’s Premier League goal tally of 84, and nudged his goals-per-game ratio just above Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer.

22. Carlos Tevez


  • Games: 202
  • Goals: 84
  • GPG: 0.42  
  • Titles: 3 

The Argentine frontman’s controversial move to England looked like a disaster. His first season had reached March and he hadn’t found the net, with West Ham nine points shy of safety.

However, then the real Carlitos turned up: seven goals to save the club followed by a transfer to Manchester United and bagging back-to-back titles. Things were going quite well, but it wouldn’t be Tevez without some more controversy, so he opted to join Man City and was greeted at Eastlands by the famous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ poster.

Next came 43 strikes in just two years before mardy Tevez returned, falling out with gaffer Roberto Mancini and playing only a bit-part in the club’s title triumph. An absurdly talented frontman, but also very high-maintenance.

21. Diego Costa


  • Games: 89
  • Goals: 52
  • GPG: 0.58
  • Titles: 2 

Rivalling Tevez in the high-maintenance stakes, it’s Diego Costa: possibly the only player on this list to be dumped by text.

The Spain international hit the ground running in the Premier League after his 2014 move from Atletico Madrid, netting seven goals in his first four matches for Chelsea, a new record. World football’s oldest-looking 26-year-old registered 20 goals to spearhead the west Londoners’ run to the title.

But an infamous banner labelled the Brazil-born frontman – plus Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard – a ‘rat’ after poor form in his second campaign contributed to Jose Mourinho’s sacking.

The always-controversial goal-getter hit back in 2016-17, though, scoring 20 once more as Chelsea regained the title under Antonio Conte, the author of: “Hi Diego – you are not in my plan.” He was last seen looking devastated as Chelsea netted a last-gasp winner to beat Atleti in the Champions League.