Strikers galore: Ranking the top-performing young 9s
Whose output and performance put them atop the list?
Everyone loves a goal. But just as football isn’t a simple game, evaluating a striker’s performance comes down to much more than just goals, or assists. It’s honestly a pretty tough position to evaluate at all, with different players occupying similar zones on the pitch but playing completely different roles. And while a striker may thrive in one system, even if it produces fewer goals overall, the same player may struggle in a different setup.
That’s where tools like advanced metrics come in, and why dorks like me love to play with numbers to see how to properly separate the wheat from the chaff.
Now, we can have a very long conversation about whether Arsenal actually need an additional number 9 headed into next season (read below), or we can just get into ranking how 9s all over Europe and the Americas did in 2022-2023? I’d rather get into it, sound good?
As usual, my disclaimers:
This list is created relying fully on statistics from the 2022-2023 season. I always encourage a healthy dose of the eye test before forming a final opinion on any player, so consume responsibly.
There is obviously a subjective element to any man-made formulaic ranking. But for the record, these rankings are based on performance across 17 statistics, each with different weight toward the final score.
All scores are subject to an adjustment according to league strength, so you shouldn’t have to mentally raise or lower rankings to make it more “fair.”
Although this summer may shift the narrative on who’s truly considered “attainable” for a club like Arsenal, the ranking itself is made up of strikers whom I’d still classify as “up-and-coming.” Why? That’s just sort of my brand.
I’m also going to add one additional element to everyone in my top 25 this time around! You’ll know it when you see it below.
At the very top of this list are some very unsurprising names. Of course, there’s always this guy, who some Arsenal fans would tell you is certainly gettable for Arteta’s tricky reds:
In second is an equally unsurprising name, and one that shows that the idea of success can really depend on what the striker’s job is. The radar above is undoubtedly fuller, but you wouldn’t really scoff at this guy, would you?
I’m honestly pretty bummed to have seen the last European ball for our third-place fella. I didn’t realize how poorly he finished this season! Makes you wonder what his club could’ve accomplished with a clinical striker, eh?
And right below him, the frontman for the reigning La Liga champions.
In fifth came your friend and mine, the all-time leading goalscorer for the English National Team. And while he did score a lot this season, I’d say this is one of the more down years overall for ‘ole HK.
There are a couple of names from my top 25 who slot in between Gabriel Jesus and Kane, but Arsenal’s number 9 came in at number 9 overall, a good finish when you consider his rustiness upon his return. That’s also with relatively low numbers (by his standards) for creativity and dribbling, so I’m hopefully that we see an even better iteration of Gabby J this coming season.
For what it’s worth, there are some names on the list ahead of Jesus who simply didn’t play enough for me to really consider them rankable. Guys like Roberto Firmino, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Sébastien Haller did compile very good numbers.
And for all the chatter about him not being any good, Eddie Nketiah would also be squarely inside this top 25 ranking. He’d be number 15 on the list below, despite his cold streak of finishing really dropping his score quite a bit. Something to feel really good about, in my opinion.
There is, of course, one more Arsenal striker to discuss. We’ll get into him in a second.
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