Top 10 Best Strikers in the World – Active and Retired(Plus Honorable Mentions)

John Rogers
John Rogers

published 10:37, 11 November 2022

Any guide to the best footballers of all time can quickly become divisive. Without a genuinely scientific scale upon which to measure and contrast players from different eras, any list of this kind will provoke discussion and perhaps derision.

This list looks at the best strikers in the world, with ten active players, ten retired, and ten honourable mentions to those that narrowly missed out on inclusion or who look set to take their place amongst the world’s best strikers in the next few years.

Let’s begin by explaining the criteria we used to create our list of the best strikers in the world.

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Active Strikers

Retired Strikers

Honorable Mentions

What makes a Striker?

The past decade has seen a renaissance of the number 9 in the shape of players like Robert Lewandowski, Erling Braut Haaland, and Harry Kane, where their value to any team can be heavily measured in the number of goals scored. 

This comeback for the out-and-out striker followed a period where the number 9 was endangered. Before the latter transitioned to goal poacher extraordinaire, players such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had to contribute much more to their side’s attacking output than the number of goals scored and rarely played as an out-and-out central striker.

The omission of some players may raise eyebrows in some quarters. For example, Lionel Messi is one of the greatest goalscorers the game has seen, yet he is not a central striker. Likewise, Mo Salah, despite his dominance of the Premier League golden boot over recent years. Instead, they are wide forwards that like to come inside rather than the focal point of their side’s attack.

The Criteria

A striker will always be judged, rightly or wrongly, on the number of goals scored. However, for this list, we’ve tried to look beyond the pure numbers and consider their impact on the sides they’ve played for. Many are talismanic figures for clubs and countries while proving themselves over several years.

Attributes we’ve considered when assessing the players are Long Shots, Flair, Composure and Passing. Then we’ve looked at the number of goals they’ve scored and the number of goals they’ve laid on for team-mates. We’ve also looked at the key attributes that made them stand out from their peers, their style of play and the number of years they’ve been active.

Top 10 Active Strikers

10. Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan & Belgium)

 

Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku- unstoppable power (Image: Dreamstime.com)

29 Years Old (13-05-1993)
Anderlecht, Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion, Everton, Manchester United, Inter Milan
Goals: 335
Assists: 69
Goals per Game: 0.51

Style: Powerhouse

Key Attribute: Strength

Score Attribute
7 First touch
8 Top speed
8 Pace
7 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
7 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
7 Flair
9 Composure
7 Passing
77 Total

Romelu Lukaku feels like he’s been on the biggest stage in Europe for years despite not yet turning 30. A powerhouse of a centre-forward, Lukaku can sometimes appear ungainly; however, once into his stride, he’s near impossible to knock off the ball. His lethal left foot is the source of most of his goals, and when put through one-on-one, the result is usually a goal.

After coming off a poor season by his own high standards at Chelsea in 2021-22, Lukaku has returned to the club where he was at his most talismanic, Inter Milan, on loan. Injury has hampered his early progress this season, but once fit, he’ll be looking to renew his prolific partnership with Lautaro Martinez and catapult Inter up the Serie A table.

Lukaku’s record for Belgium stands under scrutiny against the finest players to have played at international level. This is demonstrated by his record of 57 goals in 59 matches for Belgium between 2016 and 2021. At club level, his 47 goals for Inter in 2019-20 and 2020-21 were pivotal to the Nerazzurri’s return to the top of the Italian game.

9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan & Sweden)

Zlatan Ibrahimović Zlatan Ibrahimović- Football’s self-proclaimed “Greatest Showman” (Image: Dreamstime.com)

41 Years Old (03-10-1981)

Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris St Germain, Manchester United, LA Galaxy, AC Milan

Goals: 572

Assists: 89

Goals per Game: 0.58

 

Score Attribute
10 First touch
6 Top speed
5 Pace
7 Dribbling
8 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
10 Flair
9 Composure
8 Passing
79 Total

Style: Showman

Main Attribute: First Touch

Football’s self-proclaimed “Greatest Showman”, Zlatan, has wowed fans on the biggest stage for two decades since making his breakthrough on the biggest stage in 2002 with Ajax. His career reads as a who’s who of Europe’s biggest clubs, and his trophy cabinet is fit to bursting with the number of medals and honours he’s collected over the years. He is one of the most decorated players of the 21st Century.

Zlatan first came to people’s consciousness with his outrageous solo goal against NAC Breda in 2004 for Ajax and has gone on to score outrageous goals regularly. His showreel includes scorpion kicks, backheels and 30-yard bicycle kicks. Aside from a lacklustre spell at Barcelona, he’s been a talismanic figure everywhere and has regularly entertained fans across Europe and North America.

Although currently injured, he contributed eight goals to AC Milan’s 2021-22 Scudetto success in Italy. His experience helped guide a talented, unfancied, youthful side back to Serie A glory after 15 years in the doldrums.

8. Ciro Immobile (Lazio & Italy)

Lazio’s record goalscorer (Image: Dreamstime.com)

32 years old (20-02-1990)

Sorrento, Juventus, Siena (loan), Grosseto (loan), Pescara (loan), Genoa, Torino, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, Lazio

Goals: 282

Assists: 64

Goals per Game: 0.53

 

Score Attribute
8 First touch
9 Top speed
9 Pace
8 Dribbling
8 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
7 Long Shots
8 Flair
9 Composure
7 Passing
81 Total

 

Style: Finisher

Main Attribute: Pace

Immobile’s quality as a talismanic striker can be measured by the fact that he’s one of only four players to have scored more than 25 goals in a league season at least three times since 2016-17. The other three are Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo. Since joining Lazio in 2016 for less than 9 million Euros, Immobile has scored at least 20 goals in all competitions in all but one campaign, scoring at a top-class rate domestically and in European matches.

Although a more peripheral figure at international level for Italy, Immobile has fostered his reputation as one of Europe’s premier strikers with his movement, ability to find space and rapier-like finishing. He can often be seen dropping wide before cutting inside and scoring. 

Early signs in 2022-23 are that Immobile will likely hit the twenty-goal mark in Serie A again, extending his lead as Lazio’s record goalscorer and potentially spearheading a Scudetto challenge.

7. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur & England)

Harry Kane

Harry Kane- England’s highest goalscorer (Image: Dreamstime.com)

29 years old (28-07-1993)

Tottenham Hotspur, Leyton Orient (loan), Millwall (loan), Norwich City (loan), Leicester City (loan)

Goals: 324

Assists: 68

Goals per Game: 0.60

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
7 Top speed
7 Pace
7 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
9 Teamwork
9 Long Shots
7 Flair
9 Composure
9 Passing
82 Total

Style: Complete forward

Main Attribute: Composure

Assuming he remains fit and in form, the likelihood is that Kane will finish his career after breaking records as England’s highest goalscorer, Tottenham’s greatest goalscorer and usurping Alan Shearer as the Premier League’s record goalscorer. This would be quite an achievement for a player that has yet to win a significant honour at club or international level since coming to prominence during the 2014-15 season.

Since then, Kane has scored prodigiously for Tottenham, never failing to score fewer than 24 goals in a season for Tottenham and scoring 43 goals in 48 international appearances for England between 2018 and 2021 to become one of the most consistent goalscorers in world football.

In recent years, Kane has developed his game to improve his link play and creativity, dovetailing particularly impressively with Heung-min Son for Tottenham. Now he is equally adept at dropping deep and playing the creator role and goal-poaching number 9, making him arguably the best all-round striker in the Premier League.

6. Erling Braut Haaland (Manchester City & Norway)

Incredible scoring rate (Image: Dreamstime.com)

22 Years Old (21-07-2000)

Bryne, Molde, Red Bull Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City

Goals: 196

Assists: 34

Goals per Game: 0.83

 

Score Attribute
7 First touch
9 Top speed
9 Pace
8 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
7 Flair
10 Composure
8 Passing
83 Total

Style: Poacher

Main Attribute: Finishing

Erling Haaland continues to provide compelling evidence that he deserves his place at the top table of the world’s best strikers. Since moving to Manchester City in the summer of 2022, he’s helped himself to three hat-tricks and scored goals at an eye-watering rate at the Etihad, providing Pep Guardiola’s side with a devastatingly clinical edge to go with their rapier-like approach play.

Haaland first came to notice at Red Bull Salzburg, where he scored 28 goals in 22 matches in 2019-20 before earning a mid-season move to Dortmund, where he continued to score at almost a goal-per-game. His imposing frame makes him an excellent target man who can effectively hold the ball up and link the play. However, he’s arguably more dangerous when running towards the goal, where his lightning pace takes defenders by surprise.

His single-mindedness and directness in heading straight for goal with and without the ball mean that his teammates know precisely where to find him. When the ball drops to him inside the penalty area, the likelihood is that the net will ripple. Still only 22 years old, there’s every chance that Haaland could end his career with a string of individual goalscoring records under his belt.

 

5. Luis Suarez (Nacional & Uruguay)

Master finisher of chances (Image: Dreamstime.com)

35 Years Old (24-01-1987)

Nacional, Groningen, Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Nacional

Goals: 524

Assists: 144

Goals per Game: 0.59

 

Score Attribute
8 First touch
8 Top speed
8 Pace
9 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
7 Long Shots
9 Flair
9 Composure
8 Passing
84 Total

Style: Elusive Forward

Main Attribute: Dribbling

Racism, biting opponents and celebrating deliberate handballs in World Cup quarter-finals – Luis Suarez is the enfant terrible of this list. Describing him as having flaws may be underplaying his controversial past; however, there is little reason to deny that with the ball at his feet, the Uruguayan striker has been one of the best football strikers in the world in the 21st Century.

Blessed with great pace, skill, confidence and a dash of impudence, Suarez was first marked out as a potential star at Groningen, from whom he joined Ajax in 2007 before going on to play with distinction at Liverpool, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid before returning to Nacional in his native country earlier this year.

Suarez’s success has been built on his slippery elusiveness and low centre of gravity, which enables him to slalom beyond defenders at a rate of knots, his ability to turn on a sixpence and outstanding finishing with all kinds of goals part of his armoury. Whether one-on-one, running onto a cross or shooting from distance, Suarez is a top finisher of chances.

4. Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona & Poland)

Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski 5 goals in 9 minutes (Image: Dreamstime.com)

34 Years Old (21-08-1988)

Delta Warsaw, Legia Warsaw, Znicz Pruszkow, Lech Poznan, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona

Goals: 632

Assists: 99

Goals-per-Game: 0.71

 

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
7 Top speed
7 Pace
7 Dribbling
10 One-on-One
9 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
8 Flair
10 Composure
9 Passing
84 Total

Style: Finisher

Main Attribute: Composure

Robert Lewandowski’s career record at the end of his first season at Bayern Munich in 2015 could be rightly described as “excellent”. However, since then, it is a record of goalscoring that has seen him score at least forty goals in all competitions for seven consecutive seasons, and early signs are that he is on course to make it eight-in-a-row with Barcelona in 2022-23.

After coming to prominence with Borussia Dortmund under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp, Lewandowski made the switch to Munich, and in 2020-21, beat Gerd Muller’s Bundesliga record of 40 league goals in a season, helping himself to 41 league goals in just 29 matches marking him out as one of the finest strikers of all time.

As with all modern strikers, Lewandowski is more than “just a goalscorer”. He’s quick, mobile and links the play supremely well. His ability to create space inside the penalty area is key to his success in front of goal. Once the ball falls to him anywhere within shooting range, the result is usually a foregone conclusion.

3. Kylian Mbappe (PSG & France)

Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe- as fast as lightning (Image: Dreamstime.com)

23 Years Old (20-12-1998)

Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain

Goals: 242

Assists: 97

Goals-per-Game: 0.66

 

Score Attribute
8 First touch
10 Top speed
1 Pace
9 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
6 Teamwork
7 Long Shots
9 Flair
9 Composure
8 Passing
85 Total

Style: Explosive

Main Attribute: Acceleration

Kylian Mbappe burst into the world’s consciousness during Monaco’s memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2016-17, scoring six goals in nine appearances and marking himself out as “one to watch”. Since moving to Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe has made good on his potential and is already rightly recognised as one of the world’s greatest strikers, as seen in his performances that led France to their second World Cup in 2018.

While his rocket-fuelled pace and top speed immediately mark him as head and shoulders above most of his peers, Mbappe is a terrific all-round striker. While he prefers to begin out wide and drift infield, he’s had to curb those natural instincts alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar at PSG to play as an out-and-out number 9, a task he’s achieved with astounding success.

However, by combining his pace with high levels of composure, a crystal clear mind when put through on goal, and a great awareness of space, Mbappe is a striker sure to last at the top of the game for several years to come.

2. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid & France)

Ballon d’Or winner for 2022 (Image: Dreamstime.com)

34 Years Old (19-12-1987)

Lyon, Real Madrid

Goals: 445

Assists: 144

Goals-per-Game: 0.51

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
8 Top speed
8 Pace
8 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
9 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
8 Flair
10 Composure
8 Passing
85 Total

Style: Complete Forward

Main Attribute: Composure

Benzema is the striking equivalent of fine wine as he gets better and better with age. The Ballon d’Or winner for 2022 has enjoyed arguably his finest season, being front and centre of Real Madrid’s latest Champions League winning season. He scored several crucial goals in Real’s march to the league and European double while continuing to step out of the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu. His career-best haul of 44 goals in all competitions included 15 in just a dozen Champions League appearances.

Benzema is equally effective as a number 9 or 10 with outstanding all-around attributes. His strengths as a number 9 include being able to hold the ball up and find space in the 18-yard box, as well as rapier-like finishing. As a number 10, Benzema is adept at finding pockets of space, bringing others into play and being creator-in-chief.

Benzema continues to go from strength to strength, and a brave soul would bet against him playing a starring role at Qatar 2022.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United & Portugal)

Cristiano Ronaldo- super-human climb in the air (Image: Dreamstime.com)

37 Years Old (05-02-1985)

Sporting, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus

Goals: 842

Assists: 156

Goals-per-Game: 0.76

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
9 Top speed
9 Pace
8 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
7 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
9 Flair
9 Composure
9 Passing
86 Total

Style: Talismanic Striker

Main Attribute: Finishing

Not only is CR7 one of the best strikers ever, but he’s also one of the finest players to have played the game. After starting as a winger, his transition to an out-and-out centre-forward began at Manchester United. It continued at Real Madrid, where his numbers went from outstanding to stratospheric.

Ronaldo’s single-mindedness and work ethic made him a goalscorer only rivalled by his La Liga compatriot, Lionel Messi. A scorer of all kinds of goals, from tap-ins to 30-yard thunderbolts, one of his greatest strengths was his almost super-human to climb in the air and score rocket headers. Such was his reliability in front of goal that he scored more than a goal a game in both La Liga and the Champions League for Real Madrid.

His overall total of 450 goals is a club record for Real Madrid, more than 120 goals than his nearest competitor, while his total of 140 goals in the Champions League is also a record.

Top 10 Retired Strikers

10. Sergio Aguero (Argentina)

Sergio Kun Agüero

Sergio Kun Agüero- Etihad Legend (Image: Dreamstime.com)

34 Years Old (02-96-1988)

Independiente, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona

Goals: 426

Goals-per-Game: 0.542

 

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
8 Top speed
8 Pace
9 Dribbling
10 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
7 Long Shots
8 Flair
9 Composure
8 Passing
84 Total

Style: Finisher

Main Attribute: Finding space

Sergio Aguero’s career sadly ended prematurely after suffering cardiac arrhythmia while at Barcelona. Aguero was one of the world’s premier strikers before his retirement. Although his numbers never scaled the heights of Messi or Ronaldo, he regularly scored more than 30 goals a season during his time at Manchester City.

The club record goalscorer at the Etihad came to the fore at Atletico Madrid, where he often played as a second striker behind Diego Forlan. Once he moved to the Premier League, he secured his place in history as one of the best strikers ever. As well as his ability to link the play and tactical intelligence, Aguero’s short stature and low centre of gravity made him an elusive figure. When in front of goal, he could score off both feet from inside and outside the penalty area, where his quick feet enabled him to score out of nothing.

9. Gerd Muller (Germany)

75 Years Old (03-11-1945 to 15-08-2021)

1861 Nordlingen, Bayern Munich, Fort Lauderdale Strikers

Goals: 722

Goals-per-Game: 0.928

 

 

Score Attribute
10 First touch
8 Top speed
9 Pace
7 Dribbling
10 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
7 Flair
10 Composure
7 Passing
84 Total

Style of Play: Poacher

Main Attribute: Finding Space

Gerd Muller was nicknamed Der Bomber with good reason, scoring more than a goal per game in seven seasons for Bayern Munich and throughout his career for West Germany. In 1972 he broke the world record for the number of goals scored in a calendar year, which he held for forty years. In 1970 he scored ten goals at the FIFA World Cup and four years later grabbed the winner against The Netherlands in the final.

Muller was similar to Aguero in terms of his short stature and low centre of gravity, and his deceptive turn of pace in small and confined areas made him so dangerous. He could accelerate quickly, get onto loose balls, and get beyond defenders before sticking the ball in the net. Not the easiest player on the eye, but Muller was damned effective.

 

8. Marco van Basten (The Netherlands)

58 Years Old (31-10-1964)

Ajax, AC Milan

Goals: 306

Goals-per-Game: 0.70

 

Score Attribute
8 First touch
8 Top speed
8 Pace
8 Dribbling
10 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
9 Flair
10 Composure
8 Passing
85 Total

tyle of Play: Graceful

Main Attribute: Volleying

Van Basten’s graceful style saw him granted the nickname the “Swan of Utrecht”, something that saw him score several beautiful acrobatic goals. None of those he scored was better than the stunning volley he grabbed in the final of the 1988 European Championships against the USSR. A part of the all-conquering AC Milan side of the late 1980s and early 1990s, van Basten’s career was another to be cruelly cut short by injury.

Van Basten was arguably the complete striker of his era. Mostly deployed as an out-and-out number 9, Van Basten was outstanding in the air yet equally effective on the ground. He scored goals of all sorts, from distance and inside the penalty area, while his vision and passing ability allowed him also to drop short and link the play with remarkable effectiveness.

7. Romario (Brazil)

56 Years Old (29-01-1966)

Vasco da Gama, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Flamengo, Valencia, Fluminense, Al Sadd, Miami FC, Adelaide United

Goals: 745

Goals-per-Game: 0.774

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
8 Top speed
9 Pace
10 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
6 Teamwork
7 Long Shots
9 Flair
10 Composure
8 Passing
85 Total

Style: Impish

Main Attribute: Dribbling

Brazil’s talismanic striker at the 1994 World Cup, their fourth tournament success, Romario was one of the finest goalscorers of his, or any other generation. After scoring 98 goals in 110 Eredivisie matches for PSV, Romario gained a move to Barcelona, where he excelled under the tutelage of Johann Cruyff. Thirty-two goals in his first season at Camp Nou was the high point of his European career, the majority of his outstanding goalscoring feats coming in his native Brazil, including a staggering 66 goals in 2000.

Romario’s great strength was the speed of his decision-making inside the penalty area and his coolness in one-on-one situations. Always playing on the shoulder of the last defender, whenever he was sent clear on goal, he would regularly dummy the goalkeeper and go around him or use his unique style of little backlift to poke the ball past the keeper or dink it over him. His intelligence and movement made him a brilliant partner for Hristo Stoichkov, Edmundo, Bebeto and Ronaldo.

6. Ferenc Puskas (Hungary)

79 Years Old (01-04-1927 to 17-11-2006)

Honved, Real Madrid

Goals: 709

Goals-per-Game: 0.987

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
8 Top speed
9 Pace
10 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
6 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
8 Flair
10 Composure
8 Passing
85 Total

Style: Elusive

Main Attribute: Deception

Ferenc Puskas was a man that helped redefine football in the 1950s and 60s, initially with Hungary and then with Real Madrid. Puskas was already well-known before his Hungary side destroyed England twice within a year, in 1953 and 1954. In 1960, he shared seven goals with Alfredo di Stefano in the classic European Cup Final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Puskas was a player with outstanding ball control and an ability to dummy defenders. His drag back at Wembley that sent England captain Billy Wright slithering across the turf is a thing of legend. He could fool defenders regularly with outstanding hip movement that saw him feint one way, then the other, before seemingly moving off in a third direction. His left foot was lethal inside and outside the penalty area, and he could dovetail seamlessly with other greats such as di Stefano, Sandor Kocsis and Nandor Hidegkuti.

5. Alfredo di Stefano

88 Years Old (04-07-1926 to 07-07-2014)

River Plate, Huracan, Millionarios, Real Madrid, Espanyol

Goals: 510

Goals-per-Game: 0.718

 

Score Attribute
10 First touch
8 Top speed
7 Pace
9 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
9 Long Shots
9 Flair
10 Composure
9 Passing
88 Total

Style: Powerful

Main Attribute: Strength

Alfredo di Stefano was one of Argentina’s finest-ever strikers who made his name as part of the great Real Madrid side of the 1950s and 60s. During his 11 years at Real Madrid, he scored more than thirty goals in all competitions on four occasions and never scored at a rate less than a goal-a-game. A rarity in that he represented three national teams, Argentina, Colombia and Spain, Di Stefano was one of the top three strikers of his era.

Di Stefano was one of the most powerful players of his age, and such was his versatility could perform effectively in almost any position on the field. As well as his power and strength, Di Stefano was a quick player with an excellent eye for goal. In addition, he had enormous levels of vision and creativity that saw him form one of history’s greatest-ever partnerships with Ferenc Puskas at the Bernabeu.

4. Thierry Henry (France)

45 Years Old (17-08-1977)

Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls

Goals: 417

Goals-per-Game: 0.446

 

Score Attribute
10 First touch
10 Top speed
9 Pace
9 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
8 Flair
10 Composure
8 Passing
89 Total

Style: Elegant

Main Attribute: Pace

One of the finest players of the Premier League era, Henry blossomed under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger at Highbury and The Emirates. A crucial part of Arsenal’s famous Invincibles side, he scored thirty goals in six consecutive seasons while at The Gunners. In addition, Henry was at the centre of France’s World Cup win in 1998 and the European Championship title two years later.

Henry was like poetry in motion, using his lengthy stride to accelerate away from defenders. His signature move was to cut inside off the left flank and caress the ball low around the goalkeeper’s reach into the bottom corner of the net. Yet, Henry was far more than a one-trick pony. Deceptively strong, Henry was better used as a second striker than an out-and-out number nine, and his style fits neatly into the fluid system favoured by France and Arsenal at the time. Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer, Henry is a genuine modern great.

3. Ronaldo (Brazil)

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima

Ronaldo the Phenomenon (Image: Dreamstime.com)

46 Years Old (18-09-1976)

Cruzeiro, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Corinthians

Goals: 414

Goals-per-Game: 0.67

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
9 Top speed
9 Pace
10 Dribbling
10 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
9 Long Shots
9 Flair
10 Composure
8 Passing
91 Total

Nicknamed the Phenomenon, Ronaldo’s star was already burning brightly in 1994 when he made the Brazil squad at 17 but didn’t get any game time. However, his time would come with outstanding performances in 1998 and 2002. He burgeoned his reputation with an exceptional spell at PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Real Madrid in-between time. Unfortunately, a series of injuries got the better of Ronaldo. Even though we might not have seen him reach his peak, he was one of the best of all time.

Ronaldo was an all-round animal. Strong as an ox, quick as a gazelle and cool as a cucumber in front of goal, Ronaldo was the complete centre-forward of his age. Impossible to knock off the ball, and with immaculate close control, Ronaldo in full flow was a picture to watch and the finest goalscorer of the era.

2. Eusebio (Portugal)

71 Years Old (25-01-1942 to 05-01-2014)

Sporting Lourenco Marques, Benfica, Boston Minutemen, Monterrey, Toronto Metros-Croatia, Beira-Mar, Las Vegas Quicksilvers, Uniao de Tomar, New Jersey Americans

Goals: 621

Goals-per-Game: 0.972

 

Score Attribute
10 First touch
9 Top speed
9 Pace
8 Dribbling
10 One-on-One
9 Teamwork
9 Long Shots
9 Flair
10 Composure
8 Passing
91 Total

Known as The Black Panther, Eusebio was one of the players that wrested control of European football out of the hands of Real Madrid with his exploits whilst at Benfica. In addition, Eusebio was the talismanic figure for Portugal, that saw the Iberian nation reach the semi-finals of the 1966 FIFA World Cup. He rivalled the likes of Alfredo di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Gerd Muller as one of the finest strikers of his ag,e as his outstanding goal ratio attests.

Strong, quick, athletic and with a fearsome shot, Eusebio often scored outstanding goals on the run from a distance. Although only 5’9” tall, Eusebio was difficult to knock off the ball, brought others into play with his awareness and was excellent in the air and on the ground. Able to score volleys, headers, tap-ins and one-on-ones, Eusebio’s career stats reflect a true all-time great.

1. Pele (Brazil)

82 Years Old (23-10-1940)

Santos, New York Cosmos

Goals: 786

Goals-per-Game: 1.026

 

Score Attribute
10 First touch
8 Top speed
8 Pace
10 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
9 Teamwork
9 Long Shots
10 Flair
10 Composure
10 Passing
93 Total

 

Style: All-round Forward

Main Attribute: Composure

Considered by many to be the greatest player to have played the game, Pele’s record at international level is unmatched. From starring as a teenager in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, Pele played some part in Brazil’s success in Chile in 1962 and, eight years later, was arguably the finest player in the best national side ever in Mexico. He was the central figure of that great team and part of several iconic moments.

A complete forward, Pele was far more than just a centre forward. He was a goalscorer, creator and playmaker all in one diminutive body. A hard-working player that belied his short stature with a terrific leap and ability in the air, it was with the ball at his feet that Pele is best known. Elusive, skilful and an excellent dribbler, he often sashayed his way past opponents before finishing with unerring accuracy with his right foot and left. His goal record, albeit in Brazil, stands scrutiny against any other era and forward, meaning he deserves his spot as the best striker on our list.

Honorable Mentions

10. Julian Alvarez (Manchester City & Argentina)

22 Years Old (31-01-2000)

River Plate, Manchester City

Goals: 60

Assists: 29

Goals-per-Game: 0.392

 

Score Attribute
8 First touch
9 Top speed
9 Pace
8 Dribbling
6 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
6 Long Shots
8 Flair
7 Composure
7 Passing
76 Total

Style: Wide Forward

Main Attribute: Pace

Julian Alvarez is one of the best young strikers in the world and has successfully transitioned from River Plate to Manchester City. Able to play out wide or through the middle, Alvarez has to play second fiddle at the Etihad to Erling Haaland; however, he has impressed in his moments, showing that he has plenty of promise to fulfil. He likes to commit players quickly, directly and with good feet while showing excellent vision and awareness. The future will likely see him perform as a number nine or second striker with equal effectiveness.

9. Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus & Serbia)

Dusan Vlahovic

Vlahovic- The Bianconeri’s ray of hope for the 2021/22 season (Image: Dreamstime.com)

22 Years Old (28-01-2000)

Partizan Belgrade, Fiorentina, Juventus

Goals: 76

Assists: 11

Goals-per-Game: 0.406

 

Score Attribute
8 First touch
8 Top speed
8 Pace
7 Dribbling
8 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
7 Long Shots
7 Flair
8 Composure
7 Passing
76 Total

Style: Target man

Main Attribute: Strength

He is an old-school target man who excels at holding the ball up, turning his marker and getting on the move. In addition, Vlahovic has an outstanding technique, can run channels and contest the first ball with centre-halves. After scoring 20 goals in 24 games during the first half of 2021-22, Vlahovic has continued to develop his penalty area presence at Juventus, leading their goalscoring charts despite the Bianconeri’s continuing struggles in Serie A.

8. Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig & France)

Christopher Nkunku- a part of the French 2022 World Cup squad (Image: Dreamstime.com)

25 Years Old (14-11-1997)

Goals: 80

Assists: 43

Goals-per-Game: 0.29

 

 

Score Attribute
7 First touch
9 Top speed
9 Pace
8 Dribbling
8 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
7 Long Shots
7 Flair
7 Composure
7 Passing
77 Total

Style: Direct Forward

Main Attribute: Acceleration

After signing for RB Leipzig from PSG, Christopher Nkunku has transitioned from being a pacy, if unpredictable wide midfielder into a reliable, prolific goalscoring centre-forward. Nkunku’s acceleration and dribbling ability make him an ideal component of Leipzig’s side, as he can lead counterattacks and beat an opposition press. His 35 goals in 2021-22 saw him make the breakthrough into France’s national side and a call-up to their 2022 World Cup squad.

7. Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina)

53 Years Old (01-02-1969)

Newell’s Old Boys, River Plate, Boca Juniors, Fiorentina, Roma, Inter Milan, Al-Arabi

Goals: 352

Goals-per-Game: 0.483

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
7 Top speed
7 Pace
6 Dribbling
9 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
9 Long Shots
8 Flair
9 Composure
8 Passing
80 Total

Style: Target Man

Main Attribute: Finishing

Gabriel Batistuta, or Batigol, took some time to get into his stride as a centre forward.

He hit his straps at Fiorentina, becoming a bonafide legend in Tuscany.

He excelled at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, leading Argentina’s attack with distinction, before moving to Roma. A striker who was extremely strong and possessed a jackhammer of a right foot that was equally effective from inside or outside the penalty area. Batistuta excelled with his movement off the ball and ability to bring others into play, making him one of the finest strikers of the 1990s.

6. Miroslav Klose (Germany)

44 Years Old (09-06-1978)

FC Homburg, Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich, Lazio

Goals: 329

Goals-per-Game: 0.41

 

 

Score Attribute
7 First touch
8 Top speed
8 Pace
7 Dribbling
8 One-on-One
10 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
8 Flair
9 Composure
7 Passing
80 Total

Style: Poacher

Main Attribute: Heading

The leading goalscorer in World Cup Finals, Polish-born Miroslav Klose burst onto the scene at the 2002 World Cup with a headed hat-trick against Saudi Arabia and ended his international career as a World Cup winner in 2014.

Klose had lightning pace and excellent movement that allowed him to peel off his marker, use an elastic-style leap to hang in the air, and use his head to great effect in front of goal. His unselfish nature saw him as an effective runner off the ball, which created space for teammates, while his hold-up play helped him bring others into play.

5. Gunnar Nordahl (Sweden)

73 Years Old (19-10-1921 to 15-09-1995)

Hornefors, Degerfors, Norrkoping, AC Milan, Roma, Karlstad

Goals: 500

Goals-per-Game: 0.868

Style: Physical

Main Attribute: Finishing 

Arguably AC Milan’s finest-ever striker, Gunnar Nordahl, was the leading light of the great Milan side of the early 1950s that twice won the Scudetto. During his spell in Italy, Nordahl won the Serie A top scorer award five times, a record that remains to this day. Nordahl was a very strong and physically powerful striker who used his strength and pace extensively.

Defenders were often shrugged aside as Nordahl scored goals at an eye-watering rate at the highest level.

4. Just Fontaine (France)

89 Years Old (18-08-1933)

USM Casablanca, Nice, Reims

Goals: 288

Goals-per-Game: 0.91

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
8 Top speed
8 Pace
7 Dribbling
10 One-on-One
7 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
8 Flair
10 Composure
7 Passing
82 Total

Style: Elusive

Main Attribute: Movement

Just Fontaine is another striker on the list whose career was cruelly cut short by injury.

He remained the leading goalscorer in a single World Cup Finals with 13 in 1958 and was voted the best French player ever in 2003.

He was an outstanding centre-forward whose clever movement saw him often create space for himself before usually finding the back of the net with his unerring finishing. Able to score equally effectively with either foot, he was arguably the best finisher of his time.

3. Raul (Spain)

Raul Gonzales

Raul Gonzales- Amazing career in the Blancos uniforms (Image: Dreamstime.com)

45 Years Old (27-06-1977)

Real Madrid, Schalke, Al Sadd, New York Cosmos

Goals: 448

Goals-per-Game: 0.42

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
7 Top speed
7 Pace
8 Dribbling
8 One-on-One
9 Teamwork
9 Long Shots
8 Flair
8 Composure
9 Passing
82 Total

 

Style: Talismanic

Main Attribute: First Touch

Raul was an outstanding servant for Real Madrid and, for many years, the leading goalscorer in the Champions League.

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All left-footed, Raul was three players in one. Goal poacher, goal creator and playmaker.

Usually deployed playing off a number 9 such as Davor Suker, Ronaldo or Fernando Morientes, Raul could find space and use his magic wand of a left foot to pick out a pass or, when within sight of goal, produce unerring finishes. His awareness, vision and intelligence were all underrated attributes for one of the best all-round strikers of the past 30 years.

2. George Weah (Liberia)

56 Years Old (01-10-1966)

Bong Range United, Mighty Barrolle, Invincible Eleven, Africa Sports, Tonnerre Yaounde, Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, Marseille, Al Jazira

Goals: 211

Goals-per-Game: 0.38

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
9 Top speed
9 Pace
8 Dribbling
7 One-on-One
9 Teamwork
7 Long Shots
8 Flair
8 Composure
8 Passing
82 Total

Style: Complete forward

Main Attribute: Acceleration

Arguably the finest African striker of all time, Weah came to prominence in France with Monaco and Paris St-Germain before enjoying a successful spell in Italy with AC Milan.

Although less prolific than many others on this list, Weah was a genuine complete forward.

Equally effective as the central striker or playing just off a target man, his athletic pace and power were complemented by superb creativity and vision that brought others into play.
When the chance arose, Weah was also a fine finisher.

1. Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)

46 Years Old (29-09-1976)

Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea

Goals: 391

Goals-per-Game: 0.48

 

Score Attribute
9 First touch
9 Top speed
9 Pace
9 Dribbling
8 One-on-One
8 Teamwork
8 Long Shots
8 Flair
8 Composure
8 Passing
84 Total

 

Style: Explosive

Main Attribute: Acceleration

Shevchenko came to prominence in the late 1990s with the brilliant Dynamo Kyiv that reached the semi-finals of the Champions League before sealing a big move to AC Milan.

Usually deployed as a centre forward, Shevchenko had the intelligence to build effective partnerships with different types of strikers, from Serhiy Rebrov to Hernan Crespo.
A scorer of brilliant goals, Shevchenko’s lightning pace and rangy stride, allowed him to lead counter-attacks and either finish himself, or create for teammates.

Outstanding at linking up the play, Shevchenko was equally adept with either foot in front of goal and as a creator.