What a year 2012 has been for strikers in the world of football. Goals are simply flying in everywhere, from all angles and areas on the pitch. Just look at Arsenal's 7-5 victory over Reading in the League Cup last month. Or the unbelievable bicycle kicks from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Philippe Mexes in the past couple of months. Just incredible.
And, of course, who could forget the magical La Liga trio who are setting the world alight with their astonishing goal-scoring form. Lionel Messi broke Germany legend Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year in some style, and the Argentinian maestro is far from finished. Throw Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao into the mix, with the Colombian's form in particular nothing short of fantastic, and you could argue this is the best year to be a goal scorer.]
So, let's have a look at some other candidates who have hit a real purple patch in front of goal. It's difficult to be limited to just 20 players, and as a result some may feel aggrieved not to make the list. But that's life. To the slideshow!
Scoring 88 goals in one calendar year is nothing short of sensational. Will Lionel Messi's achievement ever be beaten after he broke Gerd Muller's 40-year record of 85 goals, set way back in 1972? Probably. By who, I hear you ask? Well, Messi, of course...in 2013.
Could he be the first player to reach 100 goals? It's optimistic and outrageously audacious, yet not impossible.
His 23 La Liga goals in just 15 games is simply unbeatable. That's around 46 percent of Barcelona's 50 goals in La Liga this season, which simply highlights the importance Messi has to his team. He can start off deep and run past five or six players and score, or he'll score from 30 yards out with a free kick. This guy is just special.
Many will try to stop him. You can kick him, mark him or even barricade the goal with a double-decker bus. Either way, Messi will find a way past you. And he will score in style. In my opinion, you are watching the world's most talented player in the history of the game, bar none. One can only bow down to the magnificent Messi.
It's a strange situation for Cristiano Ronaldo, whereby you admire yet also feel sorry for him. At any other point after the millennium, he would be without a doubt the best player in the world. And by some margin, too. This is, unfortunately for the Real Madrid star, discounting the existence of a little Argentinian who hails from Rosario: Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo has been hailed as one of Real Madrid's best-ever players after reaching an astonishing total of 100 La Liga goals in 102 games in his third year at the club, the fastest player ever to do so in Spain. And that does include Messi.
He was instrumental in helping the ''Galacticos'' regain the La Liga crown last season for the first time since 2007, scoring 60 goals in all competitions. And the Portuguese international never stops scoring, netting on 12 occasions so far this season already.
However, with the 27-year-old seemingly unhappy with life in Madrid, could he be set for a move next summer? The world of football eagerly awaits further developments.
It's been described as one of the best goals of all time. And no wonder, for Zlatan Ibrahimovic's 30-yard bicycle kick against England highlighted the individual excellence that exists in our beautiful game. A wonderfully executed strike caught Joe Hart off guard. But, nevertheless, anyone who knows Ibrahimovic will vouch for the fact it was 100-percent intentional.
His £17 million move from AC Milan was described as something of a coup from their Qatari owners, and it's gotten to the point now that Carlo Ancelotti's side are rather more reliant on the Swede than they should be, given that the Parisian club have spent the best part of £100 million transforming the Ligue 1 outfit.
His 17 goals in Ligue 1, including a superb hat trick against high-flying Valenciennes, in addition to eight assists for his teammates, only reinforces the point that the 30-year-old is indispensable to the team.
Falcao has been the world's most in-form striker in the past year or so. And no, that doesn't include Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. An out-and-out striker who sits on the shoulder, feeding off the scraps, darting into the penalty area to meet crosses with a powerful header, the former Porto hit man just loves to score goals.
Capable of powering home from long-range as well as placing his efforts with a sense of finesse, it's no wonder he's at the top of Chelsea's shopping list in January. He has scored 16 goals in La Liga, and that's taking into account an incredible drought of five games without a goal in open play, before casually destroying Deportivo La Coruna single-handedly, notching five goals in a 6-0 rout.
Put it this way: whoever secures Falcao's signature on the dotted line will be welcoming the world's best finisher into their side. Fact.
Not many youngsters who start their careers at Armenia's top club Pyunik Yerevan would dream about playing for a club as big as Shakhtar. So for Mhkitaryan to be one of top stars at the club, it's something of a fairy tale.
If there were ever going to be another midfielder as prolific in front of goal as Chelsea's cultured midfielder Frank Lampard, this talented playmaker from Armenia would certainly be one of the candidates. Possessing a powerful shot and accurate technique, he falls under the ''under-the-radar'' category, a player who tends to go about his business in a quiet yet dangerously effective fashion.
Additionally, even on a team packed with Brazilian stars, he averages over a goal every two games, and you wonder why he's been overlooked by Europe's big clubs for so long. Perhaps his hefty price tag of £15 million+ has scared off potential suitors. But his scoring record combined with creativity make the 23-year-old a vital asset for Mircea Lucescu's side.
They say there's no ''I'' in ''team.'' But there is in ''revival.'' And that is exactly what this special talent has achieved, inspiring his lackluster teammates to a sudden rebirth with his performances this season.
El Shaarawy might just be the saviour of Milan's season, with Massimiliano Allegri dangerously close to the axe at the San Siro. With 13 goals this season, he is the Serie A's top marksman, and despite being just 20 years old, he displays the maturity of a seasoned international. He's also scored three goals in the Champions League as the Rossioneri qualified for the latter stages of the competition.
Time will tell if the Egyptian-named starlet can lead Milan to success, but he's certainly doing a good job in proving any foolish doubters wrong.
One of the most highly rated players in the Premier League right now, Michu has taken European football by storm, with 12 goals in his first 16 games into his debut season in England, since moving for a mere £2 million.
His general awareness of the game is enviable, knowing instinctively when to get forward, and also knowing how to put the ball in the net with all areas of his body. With his physical aerial play as well as not being afraid to pull out of a 50/50 challenge, Michu is not your run-of-the-mill Spanish footballer.
His touch of class has given Swansea the edge in many games this year. So it's no surprise that the 26-year-old has clubs queueing for his signature despite moving to the Liberty Stadium just four months ago.
Any former players of English conference side Forest Green Rovers out there? If so, you may recognize our next selection of hottest goal scorers in World Football.
His name? Abdul Majeed Waris. Although it seems a rather unconventional name for a Ghanaian international, there's nothing abnormal about his goal-scoring record.
Believe it or not, this is a player who failed to break through Forest Green's reserve side, and just three years later became the first Ghana player to score five goals in a competitive match in Europe. His 23 goals in 29 games for Swedish side BK Hacken prompted Spartak Moscow coach Unai Emery to splash out around £5 million for his services.
And despite Emery making a swift exit at the Russian club, the striker, capped four times by his nation, Waris is being tipped to make a big impact in Moscow before moving onto bigger things in the not-too-distant future.
Aside from Luis Suarez, has there been a more influential Uruguayan player than Edinson Cavani in recent times? Starting his career at Danubio, a move to Italian side Palermo saw Cavani make a name for himself in Europe.
And while a move to Spain looked set to be the next stage in his career, with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla keen, Cavani opted to stay put in Italy and sealed a move to an ambitious Napoli side in 2010. Almost immediately, he formed a formidable trio with Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi. Since his big-money move two years ago, he's smashed in 60 goals in 83 games.
But this season, Cavani has displayed some truly tantalising form for the Partenopei, scoring a hat trick against Lazio this season in Serie A. He hasn't limited his form to domestic games, though, crushing Dnipro by scoring all four goals as the Italians recovered to win 4-2.
It seems as though the 25-year-old will be sticking around, however, as president Aurelio De Laurentis has slapped a £50 million price tag on his head.
When Arsenal sold their talisman and captain Robin Van Persie to fierce rivals Manchester United for £24 million, many fans and pundits alike praised the sale. After all, this was a player in the last year of his contract and approaching 30 years of age.
What perhaps wasn't considered was that Van Persie is an outstanding player, capable of scoring at any time, against anyone.
If he had any doubters, he certainly silenced them on Sunday. His injury-time winner came after he perfectly executing his free kick past the wall. Although it deflected off Samir Nasri past Joe Hart, it would've been difficult for the England keeper to keep it out.
His 11 Premier League goals, including five of which have proved to be match winners, show that Van Persie is officially the main man at Manchester United. And with the Dutchman looking to form a partnership with Wayne Rooney for the Red Devils, he could be the man to lead them to their first trophy in three years.
A fairly loyal striker, France international Bafetimbi Gomis has worked his way to the top in a steady and gradual manner. But now the 27-year-old is making huge strides as he enters the peak of his career.
Last season, he managed a respectable if unspectacular return of 14 goals in 35 Ligue 1 games as Lyon struggled to impose their dominance on French football, failing to qualify for the Champions League. But under Remi Garde, the former Saint-Etienne striker already has 10 goals in just 14 games.
A real handful in the air, Gomis likes to come in from the left and score the odd wonder goal. Seen as their main marksman with Lisandro Lopez playing more as a support striker, Gomis has earned the plaudits of the France coach Didier Deschamps. And with rumoured attention from Liverpool, Gomis could be tempted by a fresh challenge in the Premier League.
When I interviewed Vitesse Arnhem starlet Brahim Darri last year about who he thought the club's best player was, there was no hesitation; "Bony" he simply replied, and for a while, I questioned his reasoning behind it.
It's only until this season that Bony has hit top form for his club, as the Eredivisie outfit shot to second place in the league table. The former Sparta Prague striker has been in superb form, scoring 15 goals in 14 games for Fred Rutten's side as the surprise package continue to mount a title challenge.
A powerful striker with lethal finishing, he's been dubbed the new ''Dider Drogba.'' but that's probably because he's an international teammate of Drogba's. His frame is similar to Seydou Doumbia, another Ivory Coast forward, and rumours continue to link the 24-year-old with Chelsea and Aston Villa.
There's something about players starting their professional career in Japan. Zenit St. Petersburg striker Hulk, who moved to the Russian club for a record fee of €50 million this summer, played for Tokyo Verdy before moving to Porto. And Seydou Doumbia, an Ivory Coast international, started his journey into football at J-League 2 outfit Kashiwa Reysol.
A move to Swiss side Young Boys before a multimillion switch to CSKA Moscow finally allowed Doumbia to showcase his obvious talent. His 28 goals in 42 games in their 2011-12 campaign—Russia's season runs on a different schedule to others—highlights his worth to Leonid Slutsky's team.
A venomous finisher, with blistering pace and close control, it's a little surprising that Doumbia hasn't been targeted for a transfer. But at 24 years old, time is definitely on his side, and with the goals flying in, expect interest to be high soon enough.
It's quite clear that Dieumerci Mbokani enjoys playing in Belgium and nowhere else. The Democratic Republic of Congo striker has played for both Standard Liege and Anderlecht, and in both spells the 27-year-old has knocked in the goals on a regular basis.
A disastrous spell at Monaco saw him score one goal in 10 games. As a result, he was shipped out on loan to Bundesliga side VFL Wolfsburg. However, he failed to score in seven games, and after a summer spent in limbo, Mbokani moved back to Anderlecht, where he spent a season on loan in 2007.
Since his return, Mbokani has picked up the torch which Romelu Lukaku left when he moved to Chelsea last summer, scoring 22 goals in 35 games, including goals against AC Milan and Malaga in this season's Champions League. With Everton and Liverpool both interested in a cut-price move, Mbokani could be lured by the prospect of playing in the Premier League.
Austria Vienna striker Philipp Hosiner is far from a household name. Yet, since his move from Admira Wacker in the summer, the Austrian international has sprung to prominence in his homeland for his impressive haul of 15 goals in 13 appearances in the 2012-13 campaign.
Two goals in four games for his club in the Europa League means that Hosiner is starting to make a name for himself. If he continues to score on a regular basis, a move to a German Bundesliga club could be on the cards next summer for the 23-year-old.
Velez Sarsfield are about to be crowned champions of the Argentina Primera Division, and they can thank their 21-year-old hotshot Facundo Ferreyra.
''Chucky,'' as he is better known in South America, came through the ranks at Atletico Banfield, before moving to Velez this year, and he's hit the ground running, scoring 13 goals in 15 games, an admirable record for such a young and promising player.
Like many Argentinians, a move to Serie A, Portugal or La Liga is likely to be the next step. But with his goals being so important to the club, Velez are unlikely to let him go without a fight and a hefty transfer fee.
Compare these two players just for a moment: Adriano and Fred. Both moved from Brazil to Europe, failed and moved back. Except, one of these players has just retired due to a lack of fitness, while the other won the Brazilian title with his club of three years.
The former was Adriano, the latter was former Lyon striker Fred. And since his move back to Brazil, Fred has rediscovered his goal-scoring form. His 104 goals in 153 appearances is an impressive record, one that only the likes of Neymar and Luis Fabiano can match.
And the 29-year-old was instrumental in their title success, scoring 20 times in 26 games, with the likes of Deco and Wallace, who is joining Chelsea, helping the side achieve a historic success in Brazil. Despite his goal-scoring exploits and speculation linking him with a move back to Europe, it looks like Fred will be staying for the foreseeable future.
A youngster on the books of Dinamo Zagreb, Andrej Kramaric has impressed while out on loan at Lokomotiva Zagreb, with 16 goals to his name in the HNL.
As a centre forward, Kramaric can certainly put his chances away. And as a Croatian U21 international, he could be set for a move to the national team in the near future should he continue to impress at Lokomotiva.
West Ham are looking to recruit a new striker and have been linked with a move for Kramaric (The Daily Mail), who could cost as little as £2 million.
Score goals. Check. Attempt to replace Porto hero Hulk. Check. Set your record so that you score at least a goal in every game. Check.
Jackson Martinez is a Colombian international striker from Jaguares, and after scoring 36 goals in 64 games for the Mexican side, he switched to Porto in the summer for around €8 million. It was certainly a well-researched signing, given the way Martinez has set alight the Liga Sagres.
Linking up with James Rodriguez and Christian Atsu up front, Martinez is a powerful, quick and tall striker, but his feet are as agile as his teammates on the wing. With superb finishing attributes, Martinez can build on his good form in his debut season and help push Porto toward adding some trophies to their ever-expanding collection.
After their dream start to the Bundesliga, there was a German who was on fire: his name? It rhymes with ''fire;'' Alexander Meier. A cheap joke, I know.
Meier is about as loyal as they come, having been at the club since 2004, making more than 200 appearances for the club, and, understandably, he would be delighted to be back playing in the Bundesliga after a two-year absence.
His 10 goals in his first 15 games sees Meier sit at the top of the goal-scorer standings, and it's widely believed that the 29-year-old will finish his career at Frankfurt after his latest heroics.