Ranking the Best EPL Strikers Outside of the Big 6
Having a great striker in your side can be the difference between winning the league and finishing second or finishing mid-table and getting relegated—as Manchester United and Aston Villa found out last season. Robin van Persie fired the Reds to another Premier League title while Christian Benteke saved Villa from almost certain relegation.
They have all been sold for vast sums of cash in the past and, although it may not always be justified (I'll let you decide on which of the aforementioned I could be hinting at), it does show the going rate for a striker.
So, with that in mind, we'll take a look at the best six strikers outside of "the Big Six" and rank them in order.
6. Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (Norwich)
The Dutchman signed for Norwich for a club-record fee of £8million, as the Daily Mail reported, and scored a magnificent header on his debut against Everton.
The signing signified real intent from Chris Hughton, with the 24-year-old having played on the international stage for Netherlands as well as in the Europa League for a number of seasons for both FC Utrecht and Sporting Lisbon.
Van Wolfswinkel has a solid, if not outstanding, goalscoring record throughout his career so far. According to ESPN's website, in 155 games he has found the back of the net 63 times in a goal ratio of one in every 2.4 matches.
It is sure to take time for the Dutchman to acclimatise to the Premier League, which is surely to be different than Portugal's top flight, and to adjust to playing with his new teammates. But when he does, expect RvW to find his goalscoring form.
5. Wilfried Bony (Swansea)
Another player that cost a club-record fee, Bony signed for Michael Laudrup's Swansea in July for £12 million and made his competitive debut against Malmo in a Europa League qualifying match, where he scored two goals.
It was at Sparta Prague where a 19-year-old Bony started to turn heads, scoring 22 goals in 59 appearances over a three-year period.
Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem then acquired the services of the Ivorian and reaped the benefits. In two years he scored 51 goals in 69 league appearances, at one point netting 15 times during a 10-game stretch.
The 24-year-old scored a consolation goal in Swansea's 4-1 defeat to Manchester United on his debut and, due to Swansea's attractive yet clinical style of play, is sure to notch many more.
4. Loic Remy (Newcastle, on Loan from Queens Park Rangers)
Loic Remy signed a season-long loan with Newcastle for the 2013/14 season after his parent club's relegation from the Premier League last season. As the BBC reported, Remy snubbed Newcastle's offer in January 2013 to join QPR because the financial package was better at Loftus Road.
In the 14 games Remy played for QPR, the striker notched six goals including one on his debut against West Ham. Following QPR's relegation it was widely reported that a number of clubs were interested in the player, as the Guardian reported, but it was Newcastle who finally got their man.
The 26-year-old didn't feature for Newcastle in their opening two games, in which they failed to pick up a win, but played a big part in their following two matches; victories over Fulham and Aston Villa. Coincidence?
3. Michu (Swansea)
Michu's debut season in the Premier League was one of note. Following his signing from Rayo Vallecano, the Spaniard took the league by storm, scoring two and assisting another goal on his debut.
The 27-year-old then ensured he stayed atop the Premier League goalscorers' table by netting again in Swansea's 3-0 win over West Ham.
Michu continued to gain plaudits by scoring on a regular basis and finished the season as the Premier League's fifth-highest scorer. Not bad for a striker that bucked the trend by costing a measly £2 million.
2. Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham)
Dimitar Berbatov oozes class. He is often lambasted for his relatively lackadaisical work rate and stubbornness in refusal of defensive endeavour, but there is no doubt that, when the Bulgarian has the ball at his feet or a chance at goal, something magical can happen.
Berbatov joined the Premier League in 2006 after signing for Tottenham Hotspur and has subsequently played for two other sides; Manchester United and Fulham.
During his time with the three clubs, Berbatov has scored 90 goals in 214 league games, which is a goal ratio of one in every 2.3 games. Not prolific in any sense of the word, but Berbatov is always highly thought of by his fellow players.
In an interview with the Mirror, Bryan Ruiz spoke of his joy at playing alongside Berbatov,
He is one of the best players I’ve played with. I don’t remember one player with the same skills as him.
We try to look for him as we know he keeps the ball and he can score like he did in this game (against Stoke City).
It is easy playing with him as you can give him the ball and he will not lose it – and you can also get it back from him.
So it is easy because of that and also his movement. He is very smart to play in front of and that makes for a good team player.
1. Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)
Unsurprisingly, the best striker outside of the top six is one that could have been playing for a team in the top six this season—Christian Benteke.
The Belgian international had one of the finest debut Premier League seasons in recent years by scoring 19 league goals as he virtually saved Villa from almost certain relegation single-handedly.
A number of teams declared their interest in Benteke over the summer, with Sky Sports reporting that Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid were all interested in the striker.
The 22-year-old has continued in his rich vein of goalscoring form by racking up four goals in four games this season. He is currently joint top of the leading scorer's list alongside Arsenal's Olivier Giroud.
The Express reported last week that Manchester United were keen on linking Benteke with Dutchman Robin van Persie and will make a bid for the striker in January.
And if the Belgian continues to find the back of the net then he could well be on his way to the Premier League champions.