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Over the past five years, there has been a decline in the number of world class strikers coming through the ranks at clubs across Europe. Football has seemingly moved away from traditional centre forwards with wide players, such as Mo Salah and Sadio Mane now often the main goalscoring outlet for their teams.
Despite that, there are still some number 9s in the world of football who are ensuring that the art of spearheading an attack doesn’t go extinct. With that in mind, here are the ten best strikers around today.
10. Alexander Isak
Alexander Isak became the biggest name to join the exciting new Saudi-backed project at Newcastle United in the summer of 2022 when he made the move from Real Sociedad for £60m. Although he missed the first month of the season due to injury, the Swede put the rest of the Premier League on notice when he scored on his debut away at Liverpool.
Isak’s form rarely dipped for the rest of the campaign, although he did continue to suffer with frustrating injury niggles throughout 22/23 which resulted in him missing out on a starting birth in Newcastle’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester United. Overall, he netted ten league goals in 22 appearances – a good platform to build on next season.
9. Dusan Vlahovic
Dusan Vlahovic was one of the most exciting strikers on the planet when he played for Fiorentina. After signing from Partizan as a teenager, Vlahovic lit up Serie A and seemingly had it all – strong, quick, good in the air and a tidy finisher. His form had the whole of Europe eyeing him up in 2022 and he ultimately decided to stay in Serie A and move to Juventus.
Unfortunately for the Serbian, things haven’t worked out too well so far in Turin but much of that is arguably to do with the negative style of play that Max Allegri employs. Vlahovic thrives when he gets players in and around him and another move this summer would allow him to showcase his talents once again.
8. Gabriel Jesus
Gabriel Jesus was seen as nothing more than a decent option off the bench at Manchester City but his move to Arsenal last summer has allowed him to express himself more as a starting centre-forward. Although not your typical number 9, Jesus is better served when he drops deep and gets other players involved.
His link-up play with Gabriel Martinelli and Buyako Saka has been exquisite at times as has his dribbling around the box. A mid-season injury derailed his campaign but big things will be expected of the Brazilian next season as Arsenal look to go one step further and win the Premier League.
7. Lautaro Martinez
Lautaro Martinez may well have had a disappointing World Cup in 2022, on a personal note at least, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is one of the very best strikers around. He is tenacious at the top of the pitch and doesn’t allow opposition defenders a second of peace.
In front of goal, Martinez is prolific too. The Argentinian scored 28 goals in all competitions last season for Inter Milan as they came close to winning the Champions League. Regardless of who he is paired with up top, Martinez is Inter’s go-to man and there will certainly be interest in him this summer.
6. Karim Benzema
For the past decade, Karim Benzema has been regarded as one of the best players in world football. In fact, it was only six months ago that he picked up the Ballon d’Or following a stellar season for Real Madrid which ended with Los Blancos picking up their 14th Champions League trophy.
Benzema recently left Real Madrid to sign for Saudi side, Al-Ittihad, which ended his 14-year stay in the Spanish capital. In those 14 years, Benzema scored more than 350 goals for the club and will be remembered as one of the very best players to ever wear the famous white shirt.
5. Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen is one of the biggest talents in world football after three consecutive double-digit seasons for Napoli. Osimhen joined the Italian outfit from Lille in 2020 and very quickly became a force to be reckoned with due to his strength, pace and finishing ability. Along with Erling Haaland, he is a throwback kind of striker and one that has the whole of Europe desperate to sign him.
In 2022/23, the Nigerian took his game to new heights as spearheaded Napoli to their first Serie A title in more than 30 years. In the league, Osimhen scored 26 goals in 32 appearances and in the Champions League, he scored five in six. A repeat of those numbers next season and he may well find himself at the top of this list.
4. Robert Lewandowski
After winning it all with Bayern Munich during his eight-year spell in Bavaria, Robert Lewandowski made the decision to test his skills at Barcelona in 2022. At the age of 34, this was perhaps a risky move on behalf of the Pole who had built up a reputation as a goal machine in Germany.
As it happens, it turned out that Lewandowski is a goal machine wherever he goes. He led Barcelona to their first La Liga title in four seasons in his debut campaign and ended the season as the league’s top scorer with 23 goals. Next season, he will hope to push them closer to Champions League glory.
3. Kylian Mbappe
While some people may point out that Mbappe sometimes operates from the left, his best position is certainly up front where he can cause all sorts of problems for centre-backs with his electrifying pace. The Frenchman burst onto the scene as a teenager and has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Last season, Mbappe scored 41 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions and put in one of the greatest World Cup final appearances of all time when he dragged France back into the game single-handedly when they were 2-0 down with 20 minutes on the clock. A move to another European powerhouse looms large for the Frenchman this summer as he seeks Champions League glory.
2. Harry Kane
Back in 2015 when Harry Kane broke into the Tottenham team and netted 21 league goals, many people claimed that he would be a one-season wonder. Eight years later and he has become England and Tottenham’s record goalscorer and is closing in on Alan Shearer’s Premier League goals record, too. In recent years, Kane has also improved his general play and has dropped deep to play as a 9/10 hybrid.
In a dire Spurs team last season, Kane still somehow managed to score 30 Premier League goals and will once again look for a route out of North London this summer as he seeks some team trophies to go alongside his personal accolades.
1. Erling Haaland
After a breathtaking debut season for Manchester City where he scored 52 goals in 53 appearances in all competitions, Erling Haaland has well and truly cemented himself as the number-one striker in world football. His goals for Pep Guardiola’s side helped them on their way to a famous treble last season and he will once again be back next season to do it all over again.
The Norweigan is often compared to a robot or a machine due to the fact that it is almost as if he has been created in a laboratory by someone designing the perfect centre forward. He is tall, fast, strong and can score all types of goals. At the age of 22, someone is going to have to find an answer for him soon otherwise he will dominate world football for the next decade at least.
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