A shortage of world class strikers!

RashyForPM

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Anyone else noticing this? Feels like one of those topics which goes under the radar.

At the moment, in terms of pure strikers, you can only consider Lewandowski and Kane as world class, and arguably Håland as his record is essentially a goal a game now. I still class Ronaldo as a winger. Going through the top strikers in the top leagues, aside from those three, you have Aguero, Suarez, Zlatan and Cavani who are declining, and players like Werner, Auba (does nothing when he isn’t scoring), Icardi and Lukaku who are in the top 10 strikers in the world. Even worse, Firmino is actually rated in this day and age. Spew that defensive striker nonsense back then and you’d be laughed at.

Just around two decades ago, you had R9, Romario, Shearer, Batistuta, Shevchenko, Henry, Bergkamp, Owen, Raul, Ruud, Kluivert, Crespo etc. At United alone, we had 4 world class strikers in Coley, Yorke, Ole and Teddy. Move on a few years and you have prime Aguero and Suarez, Drogba, Rooney, Tevez, Eto’o, Forlan, Klose, RvP etc. The supposed top strikers of today would not even have been allowed by the great goal getters of the past to lace their boots. I mean, Werner and Lukaku vs. Ruud and Henry!

Why has this come about? Well, essentially, managers love inside forwards now. All top clubs have wingers cutting in and getting goals. It’s practically a primary tactic now. To add to that, Ronaldo and Messi played those roles very often in their pomp. Why wouldn’t this have had an influence on people like Neymar, Mbappe, Sterling, Rashford, Son, Salah etc while they were teenagers aspiring to become world superstars like Ronaldo and Messi?

In short, world class strikers, please show yourselves again. There is still no better asset for football teams than a magnificent striker who gets 35 goals a season, as the greats of the past used to do. Hopefully Håland’s emergence sparks the beginning of the process.
 

neilv93

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I think you're being slightly harsh on Aguero (56 goals in last 80 since start of 18/19) and Suarez (49 in last 90 since start of 18/19) - great records given advancing years and increasing injuries. Also, Ronaldo is definitely a striker and has been for years.

But I do tend to agree - bar Lewa, Kane, Ronaldo and maybe Haaland as the obvious contenders, no one really jumps out. Mbappe still largely plays out wide, Dybala/Werner/Auba have good records for do tend to waver in and out of games a lot and despite a bit of a resurgence last year, I would consider Benzema tier two, as would be the likes of Firmino, Vardy, Griezmann.

I will say, though, that I think Inter's Lautaro Martinez will be the next one to stand out in this next generation we're beginning to head towards post-Messi/CR7.
 
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OleBoiii

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Specialists are becoming more and more rare. They're considered a luxury today. First the silky no.10 died(Özil, Kagawa and to a certain degree Mata). Then it became a demand that all CBs must be good with the ball in their feet. Smalling would probably have been considered a world class defender 20-25 years ago.

It was only a matter of time before the player who "only" scores goals became a rarity. Having said that, such players will always be needed and appreciated if they are good enough at scoring. Just like having a good shot-stopper in goal never will be out of fashion, we will always appreciate the players who are deadly in the box and save our asses on a rainy day. Scoring goals is one of the hardest things do in football, after all.
 

amolbhatia50k

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Football has changed. Most of the best goal scorers play out wide not as old school wingers but as forwards. We used to say "he's scoring that money from the wing" but that doesn't hold the same weight. Salah for example isn't more of a striker than Firmino is Liverpool 's system. Same with Ronaldo and Benzema.
 

RashyForPM

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I think you're being slightly harsh on Aguero (56 goals in last 80 since start of 18/19) and Suarez (49 in last 90 since start of 18/19) - great records given advancing years and increasing injuries. Also, Ronaldo is definitely a striker and has been for years.

But I do tend to agree - bar Lewa, Kane, Ronaldo and maybe Haaland as the obvious contenders, no one really jumps out. Mbappe still largely plays out wide, Dybala/Werner/Auba have good records for do tend to waver in and out of games a lot and despite a bit of a resurgence last year, I would consider Benzema tier two, as would be the likes of Firmino, Vardy, Griezmann.

I will say, though, that I think Inter's Lautaro Martinez will be the next one to stand out in this next generation we're beginning to head towards post-Messi/CR7.
Yeah bolded bit was a bit harsh but their pomp belongs to a previous generation alongside far more world class strikers. I’d class Suarez’s pomp as his 2015-16 season where he outscored Messi and Ronaldo. About Martinez, I rarely watch Serie A of course but in the CL or EL, he just rarely impresses me. Not sure I must say.

Oh, and another thing, aside from Haaland, who else in terms of attackers is even really emerging as a future world class striker? Greenwood only as far as I’m aware. Martinelli, Fati, Musiala, Hudson-Odoi etc are all wingers. It’s quite a shame tbf.
 

OleBoiii

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Come to think of it, a better title would be: "what happened to wingers and center forwards"?

The two roles have more of less been mashed together. A winger today is not the same as a winger 20 years ago. Wingers are expected to score almost as much as CF's and they don't cross the ball nearly as often as before.
 

amolbhatia50k

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Also how are Batistuta and Ruud part of the same era?
 

amolbhatia50k

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Come to think of it, a better title would be: "what happened to wingers and center forwards"?

The two roles have more of less been mashed together. A winger today is not the same as a winger 20 years ago. Wingers are expected to score almost as much as CF's and they don't cross the ball nearly as often as before.
Indeed.
 

DomesticTadpole

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According to Lukaku's agent he is the best striker in the world at present. So there's one for you.


10:59
Romelu Lukaku agent makes audacious claim after United transfer
Romelu Lukaku’s agent, Federico Pastorello, believes the Belgian is now the best striker in the world after he left United.
“His transfer to Italy was the right decision and the best choice for him,” Pastorello told Sky Sports. “Inter are a great family and the fans are completely crazy about him.
“Romelu is a modern player and a sensitive person. He needs love, when he feels everyone’s affection he really becomes the best the market can offer, even if Inter obviously do not intend to sell him.
“In terms of quality, attitude and mentality, he is currently the best striker in the world.”
 

RashyForPM

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Specialists are becoming more and more rare. They're considered a luxury today. First the silky no.10 died(Özil, Kagawa and to a certain degree Mata). Then it became a demand that all CBs must be good with the ball in their feet. Smalling would probably have been considered a world class defender 20-25 years ago.

It was only a matter of time before the player who "only" scores goals became a rarity. Having said that, such players will always be needed and appreciated if they are good enough at scoring. Just like having a good shot-stopper in goal never will be out of fashion, we will always appreciate the players who are deadly in the box and save our asses on a rainy day. Scoring goals is one of the hardest things do in football, after all.
I do take and agree with your point about specialists with regards to centre backs and Smalling. That fad of being a good ball-player isn’t really prominent in Italy yet, so Smalling is actually highly-rated there. Roma fans were begging him to sign permanently.

About strikers though, I’m not even saying specialist, pure poachers. You see Fenomeno, Batistuta and even Ruud contrary to the stereotypes around him; these guys could score, dribble, control, create and hold it up brilliantly. Most of the current top strikers can’t do more than two of those things actually. Lukaku, Icardi, Werner etc. The main men of top football teams are wingers now.
 

RashyForPM

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According to Lukaku's agent he is the best striker in the world at present. So there's one for you.


10:59
Romelu Lukaku agent makes audacious claim after United transfer
Romelu Lukaku’s agent, Federico Pastorello, believes the Belgian is now the best striker in the world after he left United.
That inspired this thread actually. Completely mystifying that he said that. Lukaku takes as much time to control a football than people like R9, Ruud or Henry did to dribble 3 brutish defenders and score.
 

OleBoiii

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Feck it, let's just summarize all the major changes since the turn of the century. Feel free to add the ones I missed:

1. Goalkeepers must be good with their feet now. They are also more protected, so they don't need to be as strong/mad as before.

2. CBs must be good at passing and comfortable in tight spaces. They also can't be as rough as before, as the game has gone softer(which is a good thing!). This leads to goals that would have the defenders of the past pull their hair out, but it's honestly inevitable at this stage.

3. Fullbacks went from being arguably the least important position to possibly one of the most important. Fullbacks have taken over the role of the winger, but is still expected to defend like before. It's a borderline impossible task, and thus there are very few fullbacks that don't receive regular, harsh criticism.

4. The central midfield position is a weird one. Ironically, things seem to move back to the days where midfielders were supposed to do everything well. Typical DMs and AMs still exist, but they are not as prevalent as they were 10 years ago. Seeing as the midfield is the most important area of the pitch, it makes sense that things change so rapidly there.

5. Wingers are now forwards, typically with a lot of creative freedom.

6. Center forwards generally need to be more versatile. In many cases it's hard to distinguish them from the wingers.
 
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Bebestation

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For me Ronaldo and Messi changed the need for a traditional striker.

Ronaldo showed that goals can come out from wide just as much as forward - arguably with the angle away from the centre defense players coming from an angle makes it easier even if a player needs to be skilful.

Messi also did this out wide but also played as a false 9 which changed the perception of what type of player that's needed in the middle - ie do they need to be built, tanky and be able to head the ball all the time or is their dribbling and passing ability more important ( messi played central and a player like David Villa played out wide).

For example Kane & Benzema are able to play creative for the wider attackers but I feel like not alot of strikers could this generation.
 

Zlatan 7

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The change in formations from a regular 442 In the 90s to the newer 4231 killed strikers and wingers and brought more importance to fullbacks
 

Josh 76

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Feck it, let's just summarize all the major changes since the turn of the century. Feel free to add the ones I missed:

1. Goalkeepers must be good with their feet now. They are also more protected, so they don't need to be as strong/mad as before.

2. CBs must be good at passing and comfortable in tight spaces. They also can't be as rough as before, as the game has gone softer(which is a good thing!). This leads to goals that would have the defenders of the past pull their hair out, but it's honestly inevitable at this stage.

3. Fullbacks went from being arguably the least important position to possibly one of the most important. Fullbacks have taken over the role of the winger, but is still expected to defend like before. It's a borderline impossible task, and thus there are very few fullbacks that don't receive regular, harsh criticism.

4. The central midfield position is a weird one. Ironically, things seem to move back to the days where midfielders where supposed to do everything well. Typical DMs and AMs still exist, but they are not as prevalent as they were 10 years ago. Seeing as the midfield is the most important area of the pitch, it makes sense that things change so rapidly there.

5. Wingers are now forwards, typically with a lot of creative freedom.

6. Center forwards generally need to be more versatile. In many cases it's hard to distinguish them from the wingers.
Good summary.
3. AWB would have been the best full back in the world 30 years ago. But as you stated the game has changed so much.
 

OleBoiii

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About strikers though, I’m not even saying specialist, pure poachers. You see Fenomeno, Batistuta and even Ruud contrary to the stereotypes around him; these guys could score, dribble, control, create and hold it up brilliantly. Most of the current top strikers can’t do more than two of those things actually. Lukaku, Icardi, Werner etc. The main men of top football teams are wingers now.
Well there you have it.

Since the classical winger is all but dead and most teams play with 3 central midfielders(with varying responsibilities), it has pushed a lot of the strikers out "wide"(they constantly cut in). A lot of the world class strikers of the past would have been wide forwards if they played today.
 

Lee565

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Most strikers these days have different demands put upon them from the big clubs, just look at how lukaku's quality was questioned because he didn't have the first touch of a Berbatov, even aguero was initially frozen out by Guardiola in favour of jesus, then there is kane with english fans questioning whether the english national team's attack would be better off without him in the first 11.


I struggle to imagine the likes of Andy cole and Ian Wright would be as loved and wanted by fans at the likes of united and arsenal if they were playing in this modern era compared to the 90's
 

neilv93

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Another key facet is the explosion of one-striker formations. 15-20 years ago everyone played 4-4-2, whereas now the current 'in' set-up is 3-4-3 or 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3. So, as a result, that lone striker has to be more complete (Lewandowski, Kane) to enable a role in different phases of attacks, whereas before there was the classic 'big and small' approach.
 

diarm

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If you're going to pick Romario and Crespo as examples from the same era then by the same measure, you need to pick Aguero, Zlatan, Cavani and Suarez alongside the current lot. If you're going to dismiss Aubameyang for doing nothing else but score goals, then you have to dismiss Van Nistelrooy as well.
 

RashyForPM

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For me Ronaldo and Messi changed the need for a traditional striker.

Ronaldo showed that goals can come out from wide just as much as forward - arguably with the angle away from the centre defense players coming from an angle makes it easier even if a player needs to be skilful.

Messi also did this out wide but also played as a false 9 which changed the perception of what type of player that's needed in the middle - ie do they need to be built, tanky and be able to head the ball all the time or is their dribbling and passing ability more important ( messi played central and a player like David Villa played out wide).

For example Kane & Benzema are able to play creative for the wider attackers but I feel like not alot of strikers could this generation.
Agree with all this but to add on, they educated then aspiring superstars too, making their dream becoming wingers rather than strikers. It’s probably for the worst actually, as no winger is matching Messi and Ronaldo’s numbers anytime soon.
 
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Anyone else noticing this? Feels like one of those topics which goes under the radar.

At the moment, in terms of pure strikers, you can only consider Lewandowski and Kane as world class, and arguably Håland as his record is essentially a goal a game now. I still class Ronaldo as a winger. Going through the top strikers in the top leagues, aside from those three, you have Aguero, Suarez, Zlatan and Cavani who are declining, and players like Werner, Auba (does nothing when he isn’t scoring), Icardi and Lukaku who are in the top 10 strikers in the world. Even worse, Firmino is actually rated in this day and age. Spew that defensive striker nonsense back then and you’d be laughed at.

Just around two decades ago, you had R9, Romario, Shearer, Batistuta, Shevchenko, Henry, Bergkamp, Owen, Raul, Ruud, Kluivert, Crespo etc. At United alone, we had 4 world class strikers in Coley, Yorke, Ole and Teddy. Move on a few years and you have prime Aguero and Suarez, Drogba, Rooney, Tevez, Eto’o, Forlan, Klose, RvP etc. The supposed top strikers of today would not even have been allowed by the great goal getters of the past to lace their boots. I mean, Werner and Lukaku vs. Ruud and Henry!

Why has this come about? Well, essentially, managers love inside forwards now. All top clubs have wingers cutting in and getting goals. It’s practically a primary tactic now. To add to that, Ronaldo and Messi played those roles very often in their pomp. Why wouldn’t this have had an influence on people like Neymar, Mbappe, Sterling, Rashford, Son, Salah etc while they were teenagers aspiring to become world superstars like Ronaldo and Messi?

In short, world class strikers, please show yourselves again. There is still no better asset for football teams than a magnificent striker who gets 35 goals a season, as the greats of the past used to do. Hopefully Håland’s emergence sparks the beginning of the process.
world class is always subjective.

personally, whilst I love our strikers from 1999, I wouldn’t call Cole, OGS and Sheringham as World Class, rather they were excellent players. Yorke had what you can call a world call season, but never came close to replicating it.

I agree that there are less “traditional” forwards who you could consider world class, but 20/30 years ago you didn’t have players like Son, Messi, Ronaldo, Rashford, Salah and many more who you wouldn’t necessarily call forwards, but put in brilliant numbers.

the fact you dont call Ronaldo a striker just shows how the game has changed.
 

balaks

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There is a lot less top class strikers available at the moment which is why generally they come at a premium.
 

RashyForPM

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If you're going to pick Romario and Crespo as examples from the same era then by the same measure, you need to pick Aguero, Zlatan, Cavani and Suarez alongside the current lot. If you're going to dismiss Aubameyang for doing nothing else but score goals, then you have to dismiss Van Nistelrooy as well.
The 4 of them were world class but are declining. Their pomp belongs to the Rooney generation imo. About RvN, that is a myth. He did so much more than score goals. He held it up, could dribble, could pass and allow players like Scholes (second striker in that 02-03 season) to play off him, alongside scoring exorbitant amounts of goals. When you watch Auba, the guy is lethal but simply bounces off defenders when in duels. You don’t see him scoring many headers.
 

Sparky Rhiwabon

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Another difference is that in years past, the best strikers were praised for conserving their energy so that they were fresh when a chance came along. Now, they seem to be expected to press all game long.
 
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According to Lukaku's agent he is the best striker in the world at present. So there's one for you.


10:59
Romelu Lukaku agent makes audacious claim after United transfer
Romelu Lukaku’s agent, Federico Pastorello, believes the Belgian is now the best striker in the world after he left United.
his agent has just highlighted the three reasons why he’s nowhere near world class let alone the best striker in the world.

quality
Mentality
Attitude

these are areas in which he’s shown time and time again, that he’s not good enough. Surprised he didn’t add in first touch, maybe he realised that was pushing it too far and everyone would know he’s trolling the world.
 

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Anyone else noticing this? Feels like one of those topics which goes under the radar.

At the moment, in terms of pure strikers, you can only consider Lewandowski and Kane as world class, and arguably Håland as his record is essentially a goal a game now. I still class Ronaldo as a winger. Going through the top strikers in the top leagues, aside from those three, you have Aguero, Suarez, Zlatan and Cavani who are declining, and players like Werner, Auba (does nothing when he isn’t scoring), Icardi and Lukaku who are in the top 10 strikers in the world. Even worse, Firmino is actually rated in this day and age. Spew that defensive striker nonsense back then and you’d be laughed at.

Just around two decades ago, you had R9, Romario, Shearer, Batistuta, Shevchenko, Henry, Bergkamp, Owen, Raul, Ruud, Kluivert, Crespo etc. At United alone, we had 4 world class strikers in Coley, Yorke, Ole and Teddy. Move on a few years and you have prime Aguero and Suarez, Drogba, Rooney, Tevez, Eto’o, Forlan, Klose, RvP etc. The supposed top strikers of today would not even have been allowed by the great goal getters of the past to lace their boots. I mean, Werner and Lukaku vs. Ruud and Henry!
Around 2000 was probably a sweet spot for centre-forwards - you could add in Vieri, Makaay and Hasselbaink to that list. But to be fair some of those guys were on the way down at that point. Shearer, Romario, Bergkamp and Batistuta were at the end of their career and all bar Batigol were on the wane. Even R9 was no longer operating on his 1996-1999 level. It might be a little romantic to say that Solskjaer and Sheringham were 'world class', while Suarez, Aubameyang, Aguero, Ibrahimovic aren't. Even in their current state those four are superior players to your United quartet, as well as they played in 1998/99. And I think you can safely include Cristiano Ronaldo today as he hasn't played like a winger in 14 years. As you say a lot of today's guys are starting from the inside-left/right channel, but they're basically performing the same function (Salah, Mane, Mbappe, Neymar, Sterling, Son, Auba, etc). When you pull in the players who perform the same function - getting on the end of things and being their team's main goalscorer - then the comparison looks more even.
 

RashyForPM

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There is a lot less top class strikers available at the moment which is why generally they come at a premium.
Yeah and tbf, you guys bred one in Kane who can truly be compared to the great names of the past (ok not R9 yet). Because of what you said, his market value has been £250m for the past three years, hence why no one has bought him. Lewandowski too for a longer period.
 

balaks

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Yeah and tbf, you guys bred one in Kane who can truly be compared to the great names of the past (ok not R9 yet). Because of what you said, his market value has been £250m for the past three years, hence why no one has bought him. Lewandowski too for a longer period.
True and this is why almost every big club in Europe will be trying to sign Haaland when he becomes available.
 

Sparky Rhiwabon

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Also, with most teams in recent years there have been half the amount of striker slots available for them - 1 instead of 2. Same with the youth teams.
 

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Because of the general switch to 4-3-3, a lot of players that are putting in world class striker numbers now play on the wing (Ronaldo, Salah, Mane, Neymar etc.)
 

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There aware way more wide goal scorers now, so the general focus moved away from number 9s. Messi, Ronaldo, Robben, Reus, Müller, Griezmann, even our own Rashford...
 

diarm

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The 4 of them were world class but are declining. Their pomp belongs to the Rooney generation imo. About RvN, that is a myth. He did so much more than score goals. He held it up, could dribble, could pass and allow players like Scholes (second striker in that 02-03 season) to play off him, alongside scoring exorbitant amounts of goals. When you watch Auba, the guy is lethal but simply bounces off defenders when in duels. You don’t see him scoring many headers.
And Romario wasn't declining by the time Crespo was reaching world class?

I couldn't disagree with you more about Ruud. The period with him as a focus point was the worst football we played under Fergie for me, largely because of he way he played.
 

Gonçalo Motta

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I feel like Ronaldo and Messi changed the way the game is played. As far as I remember most of the goals always came from strikers and most of the time was the wingers / attacking midfielders job to serve the goals to one or two strikers that would mainly play inside the box and/or on the edges of the box.

Although the concept of a winger playing as an inside forward wasn't exactly unknown, it wasn't really used that much until Ronaldo came and owned that role putting numbers way higher than 99% of the strikers.

Maybe it was just a coincidence that tactics evolved this way during the Ronaldo / Messi era but I got a feeling they impacted football way more than just the numbers they produced and the records they destroyed.

Tbf I think there's still great talent available but when you have 2 guys that produced godlike numbers for more than 1 decade it kind overshadows everyone else that doesn't reach a similar output. Put both of them in a era that you had peak Etoo, Drogba, Henry, Del Piero, Van Persie, Raul, Shevchenko, etc and everyone would still feel like there was a lack of world class strikers.

I think there's more of a shortage of proper playmakers than can dictate a game than strikers tbh.
 
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OverratedOpinion

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One of the issues is that when you look back a decade or two you always include every striker who was good at any point during that decade. Then when you compare it to the current day and age you only include players who are currently in form.

In 10 years someone could start the same thread and say "just 10 years ago you had strikers like Zlatan, Lewandowski, Benzema, Suarez, Kane, Aguero, Mbappe, Haaland, Immobile."
 

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You could say that about center backs as well. There is just a lack of world class players ATM Ronaldo and Messi getting close to the retirement home no one is taking their mantle.
 

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Specialists are becoming more and more rare.
This, pretty much. Individuals are less important than the team now.

It's harder to stand out for individual brilliance as it's all about team play. Forwards must spend half the game defending high instead of walking around the centre circle resting and waiting for a chance, and defenders need to be able to attack the ball as much as stand there waiting to head it away. Fitting the system is more important and vey few players are allowed the freedom. Watch R9 play back in the 90s, he used to walk around the pitch doing nothing, until he would burst into life and score. He would never be allowed to do that now. Well, maybe he would, just as Messi is, but nobody below that level could get away with it.

Also factor in that the average level is much higher. Players like R9, Shearer, and Batistuta, as brilliant as they were, stood out even more because they were competing against some absolute sloggers who would be lower league cannon fodder in today's game.