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Where Have all the Strikers Gone?

A concerning look at the lack of world class strikers in today's game, compared with ten years ago.

In every transfer window, the world’s elite clubs continue to be linked to the best talents on the planet. What is very noticeable, however, is that these days, there seems to be a distinct lack of top class strikers available.

Compare this with ten years ago, when all of Europe’s top clubs seemed to have at least one great centre forward. “False” number nines, striker-less formations and the virtual extinction of the 4-4-2 formation have contributed to this in many ways.

Looking at eleven top European clubs, showing their main striker in the 2005 – 06 season and in this campaign, the question to ask is: in which season were they better off? The results were quite interesting, especially as Lionel Messi can’t really be classed as centre forwards.


Currently, Arsenal have Oliver Giroud leading their line, and he is definitely a better player than most give him credit for—he scores goals as well as doing his share of the dirty work. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you work, when the man you are competing against is Thierry Henry, one of the greatest strikers ever to grace the Premier League, it’s a definite no-contest.

Which was best? 2005 – 06.


Don’t let his spell at Chelsea fool you. Andriy Shevchenko was one of the hottest strikers in the world prior to his switch to Stamford Bridge, and would have walked into any team in the world. During his time at the San Siro, he was absolutely devastating. Milan’s current striker is Colombian Carlos Bacca. Signed from Sevilla last summer, he is showing signs of promise in Italy but is not on the level of his team’s striker ten years ago.

Which was best? 2005 – 06.



This is an interesting one. In addition to having Lionel Messi and Neymar, Luis Suárez is usually the one played centrally. Ten years ago it was Samuel Eto’o (being supported by Ronaldinho) leading the line, who was a world class striker in his own right. Both have won the Champions League with Barcelona, and their goalscoring records are comparable, but Suárez is a superior overall player.

Which was best? 2015 – 16.

Bayern Munich

Ten years ago, Bayern Munich’s main frontman was Roy Makaay, who was Holland’s fourth choice striker, but had a more than decent goalscoring record at club level. Their current centre forward is Polish international Robert Lewandowski. Should he leave the Allianz Arena, he could have his pick of almost any club in the world. As good as Makaay was, he was never in quite the same demand.

Which was best? 2015 – 16.


Didier Drogba is a man who needs no introduction. An absolute battering ram of a forward, he became one of the most lethal strikers in the world. Chelsea bought Diego Costa in 2014 and his goals helped them to a Premier League title. It has to be said, however, that Costa seems like a poor relation compared to the Ivorian beast.

Which was best? 2005 – 06.


A decade ago, Brazilian international Adriano led the line for Inter. Despite regular concerns about his weight and match fitness, which saw him seen as a player who only delivered a fraction of his promise, his scoring ratio of just under a goal every two games stands up to any kind of scrutiny. Today, Argentine striker Mauro Icardi is their main hitman, and despite a good goalscoring record for Inter, he has only one cap for his country. Aged just 22, time is on his side, but he has a long way to go before he reaches the Brazilian’s level.

Which was best? 2005 – 06.


David Trezeguet was the man leading the attack for Juventus, supported by Alessandro Del Piero and Zlatan Ibrahimović. The French international would go on to become a legend in Turin scoring more than 170 goals in a 10 year spell. Their main strikers today are Mario Mandžukić, signed for €19 million last summer, with Paolo Dybala playing in a deeper role. Both are very good players indeed, but neither is close to any of the strikers the club from Turin had ten years ago.

Which was best? 2005 – 06.

Manchester City

Ten years ago, City were a much different club to how they are today. Their top scorer was Andy Cole, a legend at cross town rivals United, but he was 33 years old by the time he joined the Blues. Even in his prime, he would probably be the first to admit that he wasn’t quite up to the standard of the undeniably world class Sergio Agüero. When fit, he is one of the best centre forwards in the world.

Which was best? 2015 – 16.

Manchester United

150 goals in five seasons at Old Trafford tells you that Ruud van Nistelrooy was a striker who didn’t miss chances on a regular basis. Today United play with one up front, switching between Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial, and their lack of options up front has been lamented by fans and pundits alike. With Rooney seemingly past his peak and Martial still nothing more than potential, what would United give to have a striker like the Dutchman in their forward line today?

Which was best? 2005 – 06.

Paris Saint-Germain

Like Manchester City, the influx of money invested in the club has given PSG the means to buy the very best. Ten years ago, Portuguese international Pauleta was their main striker. Despite an impressive scoring record at the Parc des Princes, as well as becoming his country’s record goalscorer, he will never be revered in the same way as Zlatan Ibrahimović. Love him or hate him, the Swedish international has a talent that few can match, and wins this duel hands down.

Which was best? 2015 – 16.

Real Madrid

You have to feel a bit sorry for Karim Benzema. At any other club, a striker who has scored more than 150 goals in just over six years would be classed as a legend. Despite being Madrid’s main striker, his exploits are overshadowed by the incredible goalscoring record of Cristiano Ronaldo. A decade ago, it was the other Ronaldo that was leading the attack at the Bernabéu. Quite simply, the Brazilian is one of the best strikers ever to have kicked a football. As quality as Benzema is, he’s not quite in the same league. Very few are.

Which was best? – 2005 – 06.

Who is the best striker in the Premier League this season? in LWOS Articles on LockerDome


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