In Part II we countdown the top 20, as voted by you the reader:
Best Strikers in the World – The Countdown
19=. Samuel Eto’o, Javier Hernandez
Sneaking into the top 20 are Manchester United’s ‘Little Pea’ Javier Hernandez and Anzhi striker Samuel Eto’o. The Cameroon international has gone under many people’s radars since a move to Russia in 2011 but has continued to do what he does best – score goals – with 23 league goals in 45 matches for the Dagestan Republic side. His efforts this season saw him crowned best player in the Russian Premier League for 2012/13.
Javier Hernandez meanwhile struggled to get into the United first XI but still managed a very impressive 10 league goals in 9 starts (13 sub appearances), with a goal ever 95 minutes on average, an excellent figure. Hernandez’s shot conversion rate of 22.7% is also extremely solid; better than strike partner Van Persie, Ibrahimovic, Cavani and many others. At 25 you sense next season is a big one for the Mexican.
18. Karim Benzema
Without a goal in 1082 minutes at international level for France, where he is increasingly becoming something of a laughing stock, Karim Benzema still makes it onto the list. Gone are the days when Lyon fans used to sing ‘Ben-Ben-Benzema!’ from the stands like some brilliant, vaguely menacing war chant, but the Real Madrid striker is still knocking goals in, scoring 11 league goals in 19 starts for Real, 30 appearances in total.
This worked out at a goal every 148 minutes. Not fantastic, neither is a 17.2% shot conversion rate, but Benzema’s all-round game proved vital to the team. 11 assists is better than any of the 15 strikers we analysed, and an average of 1.4 key passes per game is also a fine contribution for a forward.
17. Carlos Tevez
We looked closely at Juventus’ new signing in Part I of our statistical analysis of the world’s best strikers and you’ve named him here in 17th place. Workrate is the main thing you’ll get with Tevez; his all-round stats showed a fine workrate and contribution to the team in attacking areas with 8 assists, 1.8 key passes per game and the best pass completion % of any striker analysed (83.9%).
The Argentinian lacked for goals last season again managing only 11, but given his deployment in a deeper role for Manchester City last season this was understandable. Juventus know exactly what they’re getting with Tevez, and for €9million rising to a possible €15million based on performance this looks like good business.
16. Gonzalo Higuain
Linked with Arsenal for too long for there to be nothing in it, Real Madrid’s Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain is in 16th place. Higuain could actually be one of the signings of the summer depending on price, his 107 league goals in 7 seasons in Madrid demonstrative of a player who almost guarantees goals if given time in the team.
We analysed Higuain closely here and the results were impressive, with a 28.6% shot conversion rate second only to Mario Gomez of all 15 strikers analysed (a full 10% higher than Van Persie, for example). 16 goals from 19 starts is also brilliant. My advice to Arsenal would be to tie this one up as soon as possible.
15. Oscar Cardozo
The Paraguayan international has 37 league goals in his last two seasons at Benfica and hit 17 goals in 20 league games this season just passed. A fine strike rate, furthered by a 30.4% shot conversion rate in the Europa League where he hit 7 goals en route to the final.
14. Roberto Soldado
Further analysis on Roberto Soldado can be found here but 24 goals in 33 starts is a remarkable tally for the Valencia forward, and he makes the top 20 in 14th place.
Tearing it up at the Confederations Cup in Brazil, Neymar is difficult to analyse statistically given the huge differences between Brazilian football and European football (not to mention the lack of relative data). Nonetheless ‘Neymaradona’ is up in 13th place as the former Santos striker prepares for a new life in Barcelona. His performances in Brazil so far this summer hint at a player who could be about to explode on the world stage.
12. Mario Gomez
Another player who could potentially be a real bargain for any club that takes a chance on him. Unwanted by Bayern – although that could change after some of Pep Guardiola’s recent comments – Gomez is Bavaria’s forgotten man. The 27-year-old hit 28 league goals in 2010/11 winning the kicker Torjägerkanone for Bundesliga top scorer, 26 league goals in 2011/12 and 11 goals this season despite only making 9 starts.
What’s more, Gomez’s shot conversion % this season was better than any of the 15 strikers analysed – including all those in the top 10 – as was his turnover rate, equal with Antonio Di Natale. Even in a season where he was clearly not wanted he scored a goal every 80 minutes, a phenomenal rate. There may well be criticisms of his all-round game and inferior ability to get involved in build-up play a la Mandzukic or Lewandowski, but if you’re scoring goals at ridiculous rates like that what more do you need?!
Linked with Fiorentina, Napoli and Atletico Madrid, anyone who takes the punt is getting a guaranteed 20 goals per season with Gomez.
11. Antonio Di Natale
Just missing out on a place in the top 10, Antonio Di Natale has been doing it for years now and continues to bang them in at 35 years of age. The Udinese frontman hit 23 goals in Serie A last season at a rate of a goal every 117 minutes and is one of the most clinical strikers around as our analysis showed.
(photo credit: our thanks to Gibney_A)