Why Stefan Kiessling Would be a Huge Hit in the Premier League
Great strikers are a rarity in modern football. When we browse through the catalogue of world-class players that litter the English Premier League with such efficiency, there's always one glaring omission: Where are all the top forwards?
Yes, we have Sergio Aguero, Robin Van Persie and even Christian Benteke, but in a league of 20 teams, just three notable exceptions isn't enough. England's Premier League needs another top striker and we may just have the man for the job.
Stefan Kiessling of Bayer Leverkusen isn't exactly what most people think of when they talk about world-class players, yet the striker has consistently remained one of the top forwards in German football over the course of the past few seasons.
In fact, last season the Bayer target man outscored the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gomez in the Bundesliga to reach top spot in the distinguished rankings and claim his rightful spot as Germany's most prolific goalscorer.
In 34 Bundesliga matches last season, Kiessling scored an incredible 25 goals as Sami Hyypia's "Factory Squad" ensured Champions League football for the following year. Leverkusen had distinguished themselves as the third side in German football, and it was in part down to their talented forward.
Yet it isn't just a simple matter of the sheer quantity of goals that the Bayer forward scores that makes his role at the club vital. He scores important goals, too.
In the six big encounters against the Bundesliga's other three Champions League sides (Bayern Munich, Dortmund and Schalke), Kiessling scored on three occasions, with the most notable goal coming at the Allianz Arena last season. His opening goal put his side ahead against the eventual Bundesliga champions and ensured Bayern's only defeat in the league all season.
Yet what truly makes this target man so different from many others is the manner with which he is able to link up with the midfield—like a more reserved No. 10 or even an inside forward—and offer as many opportunities to his teammates as he himself knocks away on a regular basis.
On top of Kiessling's impressive goal count, he also amassed 10 assists over the course of the Bundesliga campaign, making him a more efficient Bundesliga playmaker than the likes of Andre Schurrle, Lewis Holtby and even Toni Kroos.
If we were to take a look at the nature of the striker's passing across the pitch during Leverkusen's 4-2 victory over Gladbach last month, via the excellent folks at Squawka, we can see that the striker is anything but a goal-mouth poacher. He's a target man by trade, but a player for whom the term "complete forward" may be more appropriate.
Similarly, it's worth noting just how the towering German striker sets about scoring such a vast number of goals.
Of the 25 goals Kiessling scored in the Bundesliga last season, eight of those goals came from his head. That means 32 percent of his goals came from either set pieces or crosses in open play that he successfully knocked home in the air.
Furthermore, when we compare this number to some of the Premier League's top targetmen, it shows just how useful the German striker could be in the English top division. Last season's top goalscorer, Robin Van Persie, scored two headed goals from his overall 26-goal tally (7 percent), while Romelu Lukaku headed home just 23 percent of his 17 goals for West Brom last year.
Even established Premier League strikers who are rather notable for their height struggle to compare to Kiessling's record. Edin Dzeko, the towering Manchester City striker, only scored 14 percent of his goals in the air, while Demba Ba got slightly closer while at Newcastle last season with 23 percent.
Whichever way we chose to acknowledge Stefan Kiessling's abilities as a Bundesliga striker, it seems impossible to accept the player as anything but a genuine talent. A thorough goalscorer, a powerful target man and a handy playmaker, Kiessling has all the attributes to be a huge hit in the English Premier League.
All stats used in this article were provided by Squawka
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