10 Greatest Barcelona Strikers
Making a list of the 10 greatest Barcelona strikers is always going to be very subjective.
Define "greatest." Should we be looking at goals scored or influence on the team as a whole? There are just so many variables that debate can rage forever and a day.
Picking just 10 players for this list inevitably meant some big names were left out.
Let's see if you agree with the choices and the reasons for those choices. Please take the time to comment, argue, discuss and rant below!
Any football player who can score 357 goals in 357 games—whatever the era—is worthy of inclusion in a list such as this.
Paulino Alcantara remains—at this point in time—the all-time record-holder for goals scored for Barcelona.
Some critics may point to many of his goals being scored in friendly matches, but this does a disservice to the player whom the Official Barcelona website describes as "the first star of the club in the golden ages of the twenties."
Enrique "Quini" Castro
Enrique "Quini" Castro was already a striker of some note when Barcelona bought him from Sporting Gijon. A three-time Pichichi winner, the accolade given to the league's top scorer, Barca secured Quini's services after Sporting were relegated in 1980.
He carried on where he left off, winning two further Pichichi trophies whilst in Catalonia and despite his advancing years.
A goal ratio of more than one goal in every two games (112 goals in 178 games) is even more impressive when you take into account the player's kidnapping in March 1981.
Quini was taken at gunpoint after a win against Hercules and was held for 25 days before being freed unharmed.
Despite the ordeal, he went on to score two goals against his old club to bring the Copa Del Rey title to Barca. He served the club well until 1984.
His 30 goals in 33 league games helped him make it three titles in three years, helping Barcelona to La Liga success in his first season in Catalonia.
Romario had it all: pace, skill, strength and a vicious shot to rival the very best strikers in world football.
What a shame that his ill-discipline saw him leave the club prematurely in 1995.
If a striker's currency is goals, then Josep Samitier is a shoe-in for this list.
His 326 goals in 454 games speak for themselves. He was considered "the best European forward of his time" (1918-1933), per FCBarcelona.com.
Barca built their team around him. As their popularity grew, they had to move to a new stadia: Les Corts.
A converted midfielder, Samitier's honours list is extensive: 12 Catalan Championships, five Spanish Championships and the first Spanish league that began in 1928-29.
He also went on to manage Barca and is credited with persuading the great Ladislao Kubala—more on him later—to sign for the Blaugrana.
He was that important to the club.
Indeed, his statue now has pride of place outside of Camp Nou.
Between 1951 and 1961, Kubala registered an astonishing goal return of 131 in just 186 games. His goal haul includes a record that still stands to this day. During a prolific first season, his 26 goals in 19 games included scoring seven goals in a nine-goal thrashing of Sporting Gijon.
He will perhaps be best remembered as the inspiration of the Barcelona side who became the first team to beat Real in the European Cup in 1961.
Los Blancos had won the first five European Cups on offer, but they were knocked out in the second round by their greatest rivals.
Barca ended up with Ronaldinho. The rest is history.
Despite not being regarded as an out-and-out striker, 'Dinho scored more than his fair share—70 in 145 appearances.
But his influence on the Barcelona sides that he played in was immeasurable.
On an individual level, his best Barca performance must surely be from November 2005, when he single-handedly destroyed Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu. Patrick McCurdy of the Independent recalls a performance that even had Madridistas on their feet.
One of the greatest players ever to pull on the Blaugrana, it's a great shame that he ended up preferring to party than knuckle down on the training pitch—a trait shared with compatriot Romario, who would also see his premature removal from the club.
Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o was an integral part of the Barcelona attack during his tenure at Camp Nou between 2004 and 2009. Eto'o would score goals with amazing regularity—130 in 200 games—and his superior movement was second to none.
He was a real old-fashioned centre forward who lived for the thrill of seeing ball in onion bag.
His value was never better illustrated than in the treble-winning season of 2008/09 when Eto'o reached a personal milestone of 36 goals during the season.
In an interview with FourFourTwo in January 2008, Eto'o's supreme confidence shone through:
I’ve always scored goals, but I’ve worked on timing. Work, work, work. You get results if you work.
In training I demand to be put in difficult situations, to receive difficult balls. Scoring is only easy when the ball is in the net. I shoot a lot in training.
Out of every 100 stones that you throw you never know which one will kill the bird. My job is to score goals. Every time I feel I have a chance, I try it. If not, I pass.
But the priority is to score. When I attack, I only have goal in my head. My universe is the goal with a goalkeeper in it. That and the box.
He will perhaps also be remembered for taking a stand against racist chanting when he threatened to walk off the pitch during a game against Zaragoza—per Sid Lowe of the Telegraph.
Ronaldo Luís Nazario de Lima was known as "O Fenomino" with good reason.
The single season he spent at Barcelona during 1996-97 was prolific, to say the least.
Until Lionel Messi recently broke it, Ronaldo held the record for most goals in a season with an astonishing 47 goals in just 58 appearances.
His pace, strength and power were a sight to behold. Opposition defences simply could not live with him.
Perhaps Barca's only regret was to enjoy this Brazilian powerhouse for such a brief period in his career.
When Johan Cruyff came to Barcelona in 1973, everyone knew what to expect.
Here was a player who was an integral part of Ajax Amsterdam's three consecutive European Cups and who had already amassed personal honours of some renown. This "total footballer" was immediately at ease with the Barcelona style of play, which suited him to a tee. Manager Rinus Michels used Cruyff's on-pitch intelligence to devastating effect.
A first La Liga trophy since 1960 and a 5-0 win away at Real Madrid were just two highlights of Cruyff's first season in Catalonia.
His 48 goals in 143 appearances are a reasonable return for someone who was never considered a traditional "No. 9."
Cruyff returned as manager in the 1990s of course, inspiring the "Dream Team" to magnificent success during another golden era for the club.
His influence is still felt to this day.
The "tiki-taka" style so often employed by Barca is a direct result of the Cruyff way of coaching and playing.
At just 26 years of age, Lionel Messi should still have his best years ahead of him if he can remain free of injury.
The extent to which the Argentine has habitually broken records throughout his Barcelona career simply beggars belief. That we may see improvement on what has gone before is simply mind-boggling. Messi sets the bar and then raises it each season with consummate ease.
He should surpass Paulino Alcantara's all-time Barca goals scored record during this season, and he's well on his way to pushing Telmo Zarra aside at the top of the La Liga record charts.
B/R's Tre Atkinson identified some of the marks that were set up until March of this year, and it makes for fascinating reading.
Even if we were not to judge Messi purely on his goalscoring exploits, the level of professionalism and contribution he makes to each and every Barcelona performance still puts him miles in front of anyone else that has ever pulled on the shirt.
Lionel Messi "is" Barcelona.
There was no room for Rivaldo, Cesar Rodriguez, Gary Lineker and others in this list. Whom would you have chosen? Please leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter @jasonpettigrove.