Top five strikers in the world

Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich

The highly sought-after Polish international was snapped up on a free by Bayern when his contract at rivals Borussia Dortmund expired. He signed a pre-contractual agreement in January 2014 after much speculation about the clinical striker and his future and he was then presented to Munich fans in July of the same year. His world class forward play leading a phenomenally talented Dortmund front line earned him the move to the most successful team in German football and he hasn’t looked back.

His move garnered much controversy, as had his team-mate Mario Gotze’s move the year before. But Lewandowski’s attitude endeared him to the Dortmund fans meaning his departure didn’t leave them with as bitter of a taste in their mouth.

Lewandowski’s style of play can be seen as the ultimate striker. Using a combination of strength, speed and hard-work as well as his assured technical ability to cause havoc in opposition boxes. 

To date he has made 333 career club appearances, scoring 179 goals. He has played for Znicz Pruszkow, Lech Poznan, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. He has also made 66 appearances for the Polish national team, who he captains, scoring 23 goals.

He has won one Ekstraklasa, one Polish cup, one Polish SuperCup, two Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal and one DFL-Supercup.

Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

His name is forever etched in the mind of Premier League fans after that dramatic title win in 2012, City fans have even gone to the length of getting his name lengthened on the back of their shirt to commemorate Aguero’s (and Martin Tyler’s) contribution that day. 

The Argentine striker has made a reputation for himself since arriving at Manchester City in 2011 and that reputation is that he is one of the deadliest strikers the Premier League has ever seen. As of right now he has the highest goals per minute ratio in the history of the Premier League averaging a goal every 115 minutes.

Aguero’s diminutive stature is what allows him to utilise his agility and acceleration, but his stocky build makes him surprisingly hard to shake off the ball despite his lack of height. Combine his physical attributes with his close control and shooting ability and it’s hard not to see why City paid £35million for him and why he is one of the best strikers not just in the Premier League, but also the world.

To date, Aguero has made 435 club career appearances, scoring 221 goals. He has played for Independiente, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City. He has also made 59 appearances for the Argentina national team at senior level, scoring 22 goals.

He has won one UEFA Europa League, one UEFA Intertoto Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, two Premier League titles, one Capital One Cup, one FA Comunity Shield and an Olympic Gold Medal. 

Lionel Messi – Barcelona

Best player in the world, best player of his generation, best player ever – these are just some of the opinions held of Lionel Messi by fans, pundits, professionals and coaches alike. What I can’t deny is that Messi is one of the most naturally talented footballers I have ever seen.

Ever since he burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old in 2005, the Argentine has set the world alight and on the date he made his debut I’m not sure many knew just how significant it would be for the footballing world as Messi has broken record after record since. He has broken 49 individual records including La Ligas highest ever goal scorer, Barcelonas highest scorer in their history, most goals in a calendar year and most FIFA Balon d’Or awards. All this and he is still only 27.

Messi has always been known for his pace, acceleration and dribbling but add onto that his incredible passing range and his unerring finishing ability and you have one of the most versatile attacking players ever seen. No matter where you go you will always hear the Ronaldo vs Messi debate as to who is better despite them having two contrasting styles of play , personally I’m just glad that we have the privilege of witnessing them both in our generation.

Messi has so far been a one club man, having been at Barcelona his entire career to date. He had made 495 club appearances for Barcelona, scoring 406 goals. He has also made 97 appearances for the Argentina national team, scoring 45 goals. He was named captain of Argentina in 2011.

He has won six La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey titles, five Supercopa de Espanas three UEFA Champions League titles, two UEFA Supercups, two FIFA Club World Cups and one Olympic Gold Medal. 

Diego Costa – Chelsea

The Brazilian-born striker has set the Premier League alight since his £32million move last year. His physicality and lethal striking instincts have provided Chelsea with the striker they’ve needed since Didier Drogba departed, who ironically rejoined as Costa signed – although no longer at the peak of his powers.

After Falcao left Atleti in 2013 and Costa was made the main striker his strike rate improved after he was made the focal point of the attack. Before that he was very much a fringe player at Vicente Calderon, moving on loan to three different teams and even being sold and brought back again before his successful run in the first team.

Costa’s physical style of play has seen him make an excellent start to his career in England, scoring 17 goals in 27 games for Chelsea and making him a constant thorn in opposition sides. He gained a reputation at Atletico Madrid for his nasty streak but it was utilised by Diego Simeone who helped Costa enhance his discipline but without losing any of his aggression and determination. His attitude added to his excellent physical stature and pace, mixed with his scoring abilities make him an ideal target man for Chelsea, he could prove to be the main protagonist in Chelsea’s title hunt.

The Spanish striker has made 305 career club appearances, scoring 120 goals. He has played for Penafiel, Braga, Celta, Albacete, Real Valladolid, Atletico Madrid and Chelsea. He has made two appearances for the Brazilian national team, scoring no goals. But after his successful request to change his nationality to Spanish, he has made seven appearances for the Spanish national team, scoring one goal.

He has won one La Liga, two UEFA Super Cups, one Copa del Rey and one Capital One Cup.

Luis Suarez – Barcelona

Luis Suarez was the jewel in the Anfield crown during his time at Liverpool, although his time there was mired with controversy he will no doubt go down as one of the most loved strikers in the clubs history, as well as one of the most controversial. His form at Liverpool earned him a £75million move to Barcelona last summer where he endured a tough start but his form has since picked up.

The Uruguayan went from being the main man in Liverpool to being in Messi and Neymar’s shadow but it seems to be a role that Suarez has managed to adapt to. His assists and all-round play, added to his recent improved goal scoring form have meant he has slotted in well in the Barcelona front line, making the most fearsome attacking trio in world football.

Suarez’s style of play mixes his superb technical ability with speed and work-rate. A style of play which seems to be synonymous with South American footballers nowadays mixing flair and skill with an industrious, passionate work ethic.

To date Suarez has made 389 club career appearances, scoring 233 goals. He has played for Nacional, Groningen, Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona. He has also made 82 appearances for the Uruguay national team, scoring 43 goals.

He has won one Primera Division, one Eredivisie, one KNVB Cup, one Johan Cruyff Shield, one Capital One Cup and one Copa America.

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Top five strikers of all-time

So here it is, the final installment in my top five of all-time positions series!

Up first is undoubtedly Portugal’s finest ever player, unless Ronaldo keeps going in his current vein of form but for now, Eusebio is the man on top of the pile. He is one of the most prolific goalscorers in footballing history and was known for his speed, athleticism, technique and deadly finishing.

He appeared for Sporting de Laurenco, Boston, Monterrey, Toronto and Beira-Mar, but his best period came in his 15 years at Benfica, which came in conjunction with the club’s golden period, with Eusebio at the helm. He made 715 career appearances and scored a phenomenal 727 goals. During his career, Eusebio won 11 Portuguese League titles, five Portuguese Cups, two European Cups.

For Portugal, Eusebio made 64 appearances and scored 41 goals. He came to the fore for the Portuguese national team at the 1966 World Cup as he led them to a semi-final loss against England, this came a year after Eusebio was crowned European Football of the Year.

Eusebio in his Benfica days

Eusebio in his Benfica days

 

Up next is a player who is also known as ‘The Phenomenon” and in the late 90’s and early 00’s he was one of the best strikers in the world. Ronaldo is dubbed as one of the most complete strikers in footballing history with his pace, strength and finishing ability – he was one of the most feared players that a defender could come up against.

Ronaldo played for Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Corinthians, he is one of few players to play for both Milan teams and the El Clasico rivals. His time at Real Madrid coincided with the club’s ‘Galacticos’ era and he was one of the key players of the club at the time. Ronaldo made 580 club career appearances and scored 405 goals in a career which was unfortunately hampered by injury and health issues.

During his career, Ronaldo won a Brazilian Cup, a Dutch Cup, a Cup Winners’ Cup, a Spanish Cup, a UEFA cup and two La Liga titles.

Ronaldo had a very successful international career, winning two World Cups and he also is the highest ever goalscorer in World Cup history after he broke Gerd Muller’s record at the 2006 World Cup, scoring his 15th goal in four tournaments. He made 98 appearances for the Brazilian national team, scoring 62 goals.

Indivually, he was named European Player of the Year twice, and he won World Player of the Year three times, a record that can only be matched by former Galactico’s team-mate Zinedine Zidane.

Ronaldo

Ronaldo doing his trademark finger wag celebration

Third up is known as one of the greatest footballers and most prolific shooters of all-time. Ferenc Puskas was known for his pace, technique and undoubted eye for goal. He was part of the great Hungary ‘Magical Magyars’ side and also a part of the all-conquering Real Madrid side of the 1960’s.

He played for Budapest Honved and Real Madrid in his career; a career which bore five Hungarian league titles, five Spanish league titles, an Intercontinental cup and three European Cups. In 529 club appearances, he scored 514 goals.

For his country, he was a prominent member and captain of their ‘Magical Magyars’ side, all in all he scored 84 goals in 85 appearances. The team went unbeaten for 32 consecutive games, winning the 1952 Olympic title. Hungary finished runners-up in the 1954 World Cup and Puskas played the entire final with a hairline fracture which he suffered in the semi-final. He also played four times for Spain after he was made legible for a Spanish passport.

In honour of Puskas, FIFA announced the Puskas award for the player who had scored the most beautiful goal in 2009.

Ferenc Puskas

Ferenc Puskas

 

Penultimately is not exactly a surprising addition to the list as he is widely known as the greatest player of all-time. Pele has been voted footballer of the century and the greatest player of all-time by countless governing bodies, publications and indivduals, and for good reason.

Pele spent the majority of his career at Santos, also having a spell at New York Cosmos. His reported tally of 1281 goals in 1363 games has been recognised as the greatest in history. Pele’s career haul of 40 official titles has made him the most successful player in history alongside former Portugal goalkeeper Vitor Baia.

Internationally, Pele won three World Cups and he is the only player so far to do so, playing a key role in the 1958 and 1970 campaigns especially. He is the record scorer of the Brazilian national team with 77 goals in 92 appearances.

Pele

Pele playing for Santos

I have saved the best for last, and I will no doubt get called biased for this selection but I am allowed to be biased for my favourite all-time player. Thierry Henry shot to fame as a world class footballer after moving to Arsenal in 1999 as a replacement for departing striker Nicolas Anelka. He became renowned for his blistering pace, technique, deadly finishing and set-piece mastery.

During his career, Henry has played for Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona and New York Red Bulls. He still plays for New York Red Bulls and so far has a career tally of 340 in 727 appearances. He has won one Ligue 1 title, one French Cup, two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, two Community Shields, two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de Espana, one Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup, one Club World Cup and one MLS Eastern Conference.

For the French national team, Henry won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Cup, he is also the record scorer for the French national team with 51 goals in 123 appearances.

He was a vital part of the ‘Invincibles’ Arsenal team which went 49 games unbeaten, he was runner up of the 2003 and 2004 World Player of the Year but won back-to-back PFA Player of the Year titles. Henry is the only player to win the Football Writer’s Assocation Football of the Year award on three occasions as well as French Footballer of the Year on four occasions. He was also the only player to ever retain the European Golden Boot award, he was also the Premiership’s top scorer in a record for seasons.

Barcelona v Espanyol - La Liga

Thierry Henry playing for Barcelona