Ranking Europe's 10 Best Strikers

Peter BrownellContributor IFebruary 5, 2013

Ranking Europe's 10 Best Strikers

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    This list is based on a distribution analysis of eight statistical categories designed to measure the quality of a striker.  Every striker in Europe's top divisions with at least 11 league goals was analyzed.

    Only league matches from the beginning of the current campaign are used in this study.  No Champions League or other European competitions, and no domestic tournaments, like the FA Cup, were studied. 

    All of the data is collected by OPTA and gathered from the websites Squawka and Whoscored

Europe's Best Strikers Ranked by Distribution Analysis

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    The eight metrics are weighted based on how critical they are in defining the quality of a striker.  Goals, the most important statistic for strikers, is the highest valued variable.  Total shots is the least.

    Here are all of of the categories defined, and they are listed in order of decreasing value below:

    Goals, assists, conversion rate percentage, chances created, average shot accuracy percentage, successful take-ons, average pass accuracy and total shots.

    No shock to see a certain Argentinian come out as the top striker here.

    There may be some other familiar names on this list as well. 

10. Rickie Lambert, Southampton

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    Rickie Lambert's 11 goals proves he knows how to finish.

    He can also help his teammates and their pursuit of goals. His 54 chances created and 66 percent average passing accuracy speak to polished distribution.

9. Edinson Cavani, Napoli

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    Edinson Cavani and his tireless engine have provided Napoli with some beautiful football so far this campaign.

    His 18 goals and two assists have been crucial to his club. He can also distribute quite
    effectively, creating 18 chances and finding a teammate on 77 percent of pass attempts.

8. Falcao, Atletico Madrid

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    Falcao provides another example of a striker who is a prudent shooter.

    The Colombian has scored 18 goals on 53 total attempts for a conversation rate of 34 percent.

    Even when he does not find the back of the net he challenges opposing goalkeepers, registering an average shot accuracy of 58 percent.

7. Adam Szalai, FSV Mainz

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    Adam Szalai's 11 goals might not appear to be impressive when compared to the gaudy counts some of the other footballers on this list have racked up.

    However, the Hungarian has only taken 27 shots for FSV Mainz this season, giving him a conversation rate of 40 percent.

    Absolutely stunning.

6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain

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    Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbed the world's attention with his acrobatic overhead goal against England. The world should have been paying attention well before this mythical strike.

    He is solid in every category in this analysis and is just one of three players in the top 10 to have at least 20 goals so far this season. Five assists and 40 chances created suggest this imposing striker is more than just a dexterous finisher.

5. Luis Suarez, Liverpool

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    The mercurial Liverpool striker might be the most important player to his club in all of European football.

    His 68 chances created is the most prolific in this analysis.

    It is a shame he does not have more clinical teammates. For a player that sets up opportunities for others so often, three assists seems criminal.

    He is also fearless when going at defenders in one-on-one situations. He is second in this analysis, only to Messi, in successful take-ons with 72.

4. Stephan El Shaarawy, AC Milan

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    This Italian striker rarely wastes an opportunity to test a goalkeeper.

    His average shot accuracy, 68 percent, is tied for the highest in this analysis.

    El Shaarawy's conversation rate percentage (26.8) also illustrates his remarkable finishing. It ranks fourth in this analysis.

    With Mario Balotelli joining the mix, opposing defenders face a rough 90 minutes against Milan.

3. Robin Van Persie, Manchester United

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    The former Arsenal man has made a serious splash since joining the already stacked Red Devils.

    Robin van Persie is another footballer possessing multiple talents. His ability to create for teammates is particularly evident.

    He ranks top-three in this analysis in a few critical passing categories: assists (six), chances created (47), and average passing accuracy percentage (80).

    For a striker who is so good at making those around him better, Van Persie's 18 goals on 73 shots only adds to his legendary season.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

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    Cristiano Ronaldo is a statistically well-rounded threat.

    His 120 total shots lead all of the strikers in this analysis. He does not waste attempts, averaging a 61 percent shot accuracy and converting just about 18 percent of his shots.

    Since he is known to strike the ball so well, and to beat defenders so easily with speed, Ronaldo's vision is often ignored.

    A 75 percent passing accuracy, with 32 chances created, suggests that passing is another area he excels in.

1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona

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    Lionel Messi continues to add to his historic resume.

    His 34 goals trump the closest competitor by a wide margin, and his eight assists help prove he is more than just a spectacular finisher.

    Most impressive, perhaps, is his offensive diversity. In the eight categories used to measure
    strikers in this analysis, he ranked in the top 10 in every metric when compared to all other footballers in Europe.