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The Top 10 Strikers in Europe
It is full-on in the middle of the time when the regular season is over, the international matches are glorified friendlies and the transfer season is still mostly in the speculation phase.
So I think this would be a good time to go through and use my forward rating system to list out the Top 10 Strikers/Forwards who have played in the top five European leagues this season.
To make this list I have used my forward rating system, trying to boil things down to one number is always hard (but still fun to try and do!). For this I have set the numbers fairly high because availability is incredibly valuable so to make the list a player had to have played a minimum of 2,000 minutes with 65% of those where he is listed as a striker.
One final note, the shot charts below include matches in the Europa League and Champions League, when I created them I forgot to filter out those competitions.
Enough preamble let's get jump into it.
10. Ciro Immobile
Immobile continues to just produce goals, while also doing a decent amount to bring teammates into play.
It feels like it is easy to forget about him because he isn't a 'hot' name in transfers and a player on the downside of the age curve but he has been one of the most consistent strikers in Europe. He has hit 15 or more non-penalty goals in five of the last six seasons and the one that he didn't he still got 11 (0.35 goals per 90).
9. Edin Dzeko
Staying in Serie A with another older striker for number 8.
Dzeko is a player that I think has always been a little underrated. He has thrived playing as part of a partnership and being the big guy in the big little partnership isn't quite as glamourous.
He is getting up there in years and looked like he might be on the decline in his last few years at Roma but he put together a bounce-back season at Inter in his partnership with Lautaro Martinez (we will see him later).
8. Gerard Deulofeu
This one was a surprise for me and maybe there is just something in the water in Italy that makes their strikers look good (cross league comparisons are hard and there really might be something to this). Deulofeu is a guy that was always hyped but never quite lived up to the expectations, he had a few good seasons in England sandwiched around bouncing around between clubs where he was just pretty good.
In this, his ability to do all the 'other' things really helps him. I don't think that I would personally rate him this high on my list of the 'top' strikers. I might be a bit old school in that I do want my striker to actually take shots and get goals.
7. Lautaro Martínez
I did warn you earlier that we would be spending a lot of time in Italy and I did spoil that this one, in particular, would be coming.
I will be 100 percent honest I have a big crush on Martínez. I watched a good amount of Inter matches (probably the second most of any team besides Arsenal) specifically to watch him.
He checks so many of the boxes for me in what I want in my striker.
Takes a bunch of shots, yep.
Get's a bunch of touches in dangerous areas, yep.
Can beat a player on the dribble but doesn't go crazy turning the ball over, yep.
Is at least semi-engaged on defense and can harass defenders, yep.
Most importantly puts the ball in the back of the net, yep.
My big hope is that he doesn't end up going to a team that I despise.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo isn't what he used to be and I think that if there was a better measure of how much value he gives back with his lack of defense and I think just okay ability to bring out the best of teammates he would be much further down in the rankings.
His defensive numbers are pretty funny because he basically just doesn't do that. He pressures players less than almost any striker and does so at one of the lowest success rates. With that sort of production in the modern game it is really hard to keep him in the team, especially now that he isn't banging in a goal a game or taking 6 shots per match.
5. Iago Aspas
I don't have a lot to say about Aspas. I don't have a lot of memory of actually watching him play and his name is just the reminder of 'oh yeah, that guy that used to be at Liverpool for a season.'
That probably colors a lot of my rating of him because his track record outside that brief stop is of a very good player.
Aspas is another player who is a solid shooter but who has his rating boosted in this metric by doing a lot of the other things really well.
4. Harry Kane
It hurts a little bit as an Arsenal fan to acknowledge that Harry Kane is in fact a very good player and one of the best strikers in the world.
After a couple of seasons where he was hampered by injury, he seems to have bounced back to a very high level. His one season as an absolute shot monster looks like an outlier but he has settled back into being a player that gives you nearly 4 good shots per 90 and a goal every other match. He back this up with very impressive creative numbers for a striker.
3. Robert Lewandowski
This rating isn't too much of a surprise, Lewandowski is and has been one of the best strikers for quite a while.
His goal tallies still seem pretty made up, even if we take out his penalties he has been close to 1 non-penalty goal per 90 over the last five seasons. He's very good.
His game has evolved some as he has gotten older, doing a bit less on defense and a bit less facilitating with the goal of continuing to maximize his impact in the box. It is a great trade-off as he is probably the most dangerous player (IMO) from within 12 yards.
2. Kylian Mbappé
Mbappé looks like he is on his way to being the best player in the world. I don't think that I am breaking any new ground in saying this. He is a very good player.
Earlier in the list, I criticized Ronaldo for his lack of defense and Mbappé is not too far off that level of defense as well. The big difference is that Mbappé does so much other attacking things that it is a trade-off that a team is willing to make. Like it was for Ronaldo when he was in his prime.
I still think it is weird how PSG went with a coach that wanted to do pressing when they had invested so heavily in a front three of Mbappé, Messi and Neymar. That however is a rant for another day.
AND... Number 1 Karim Benzema
Benzema I think is a deserving number one on this list.
After spending so much time as the second (or even third) fiddle at Real Madrid he has fully stepped into the leading man role.
Mardid has built their team to maximize their two biggest stars in Vinicius Junior and Benzema. Everything revolves around them and it is hard to argue with the results that it has been able to produce.
What separates Benzema from a player like Lewandowski is that his game is a bit more all around. He comes close to matching his shot and goal production but backs it up with much better creative numbers.
So that's it. There are some players that aren't in the list that I would think should be here. The biggest missing name is Erling Haaland who just missed the high bar that I set for 2,000 minutes.
Another week with a lot of content:
With Saliba not ruling out playing for Arsenal I took a look at how his stats looked in France. I am very excited to finally see him play in an Arsenal shirt.
I continued my season review by looking at Midfield
I also looked at Arsenal's left-backs
Lastly, I did a video podcast looking at the stats for the players that Arsenal have been linked with.