World Football: Top Latin American Strikers of the 2010-11 Season
Latin American strikers made an indelible impression on European football in the 2010-11 campaign.
From Portugal to Italy, Spain to England, these players helped their teams win leagues, advance to continental championships, regain lost form and ascend to new heights.
They came from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Colombia to light Europe on fire with Latin panache.
Here are the top ten Latin American strikers from the 2010-11 European season.
Clubs: Ajax and Liverpool
The Skinny: In the 2009-10 season, Luis Suarez scored 49 goals in all competitions at Ajax. He performed admirably in the 2010 World Cup until the ignominious handball that cost Ghana promotion to the semi finals.
All told, Suarez had a very good 2010-11 campaign at club level. Before leaving Ajax for Anfield in January of 2011, the Uruguayan international scored 7 goals in 13 league matches and 12 goals in 24 performance across all competitions.
Though his goal scoring was less impressive at Liverpool—four in 13 matches—Suarez showed an indispensable creativity. In the absence of Steven Gerrard, the Uruguayan international filled an important void on the squad.
His performances rivaled and even surpassed those of Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez, despite his not scoring as many goals as those two.
The Skinny: Hulk scored 35 goals and racked up 17 assists across all competitions for Porto in the 2010-11 campaign. He started the season with 16 goals in as many appearances, including a hat trick.
The striker/winger plays with pace and tremendous power. As his statistics show, he is as adept at finding his teammates in goal scoring position as he is at carving out space for himself and finishing.
Hulk’s efforts, along with those of teammate Ramadel Falcao, helped Porto win three major trophies in the 2010-11 season, the Portuguese League, the Europa League and the Portuguese SuperCup.
The Skinny: Falcao combines the deft footwork we expect from our Latin American players with tremendous natural ability in the air.
Though the Colombian striker scored fewer league goals for Porto in the 2010-11 season than teammate Hulk, he racked up more goals across all competitions. All told, Falcao took the field 41 times for Porto during the campaign, and scored 39 goals.
You might say that Hulk won the Portuguese league for Porto and Falcao won the Europea League for the side. The Colombian set the Europa League record for goals in a single campaign with 17 in 14 matches.
During the tournament, he scored three hat tricks, had one four-goal game and headed in the only goal in the final match. It’s hard to top numbers like that.
Club: Real Madrid
The Skinny: First things first, just to get this out of the way: Gonzalo Higuain is ethnically Argentinean but was born in France. He attained dual citizenship in 2007 for the purpose of playing on the Argentine national team.
The Real Madrid striker failed to post as impressive numbers as he did last season during 2010-11 on account of injury, but did well for himself none-the-less. Higuain had 10 goals and six assists in 17 league matches.
On April 23rd, after returning from back surgery, Higuain scored a hat trick and had two assists in Real Madrid’s brutal 6-3 routing of Valencia.
At the ripe old age of 23, Higuain entered the history books. On November 4th 2010, he scored the team’s 700th Champion’s League goal.
Club: Atletico Madrid
The Skinny: Where to begin with the golden maned maestro?
Diego Forlan won the Golden Ball as the best player at the 2010 World Cup. It is his fifth such trophy, having previously won the European Golden Shoe and Pichichi Trophy twice each.
Forlan struggled slightly at club level in 2010-11. It’s possible that his phenomenal play at the World Cup sapped some of his strength. Whatever the reason, the striker scored only 10 goals in 42 competitions for his team.
However, we can expect more from Forlan next season. Despite not being in great form, he is linked with moves to various clubs, including Al Wasl in Adu Dabi.
Such a move is just what Forlan needs to get back in a groove.
Club: Manchester United
The Skinny: Javier Hernandez, known to many as Chicharito, is the EPL revelation of the season.
Though he impressed football fans with his pace and pair of goals in the 2010 World Cup, few expected this former Chivas forward to light up the EPL the way he has.
Yet the truth is in the numbers. The surprisingly humble young man, recently called the next Messi by none other than Pele, scored 13 league goals for United and 20 goals in 44 matches across all competitions.
At only 22 years old, Chicharito is one of the most promising, explosive and precise strikers in the world.
The Skinny: Chilean wunderkind Alexis Sanchez is one of the most targeted players in the summer 2011 transfer window.
His explosive play at Serie A side Udinese during the 2010-11 campaign has earned him comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo. Technically, Sanchez is a right winger, though he can also play left wing, striker and attacking midfielder if need be.
All told, Sanchez scored 12 goals in the 2010-11 campaign, including four in the brutal 7-0 thumping of Palermo. More than his goal-scoring prowess, though, Sanchez is noted for his pace, creativity and preternatural ability to create space and link with his teammates.
Club: Manchester City
The Skinny: Mighty mister Carlos Tevez tied Dimitar Berbatov for most goals of the EPL season by scoring on the last day.
All told, Tevez piled up 20 league goals in 2010-11 and 23 goals total in 39 matches across all competitions. Thanks to Tevez’s Herculean efforts and world-class numbers, City finished third in the table this season, ahead of Arsenal.
Tevez possess a frightening ability unique to the greatest strikers in football. You can see in his eyes when he is going to score before he actually does so. He possesses a look of determination and unstoppable purpose.
Unlike many lesser players, Tevez has the technical ability and explosive pace to bring his vision to fruition time and again. This sets him apart from the herd, and makes him one of the top players in the world in 2010-11.
The Skinny: With its current triumvirate of striking threats – Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani – Uruguay looks poised to recapture the international glory it basked in during the 1920’s.
Napoli striker Cavani finished the Serie A season with the second highest goal total in the league, 26. He scored a total of 33 goals in 47 matches across all competitions.
Cavani found the back of the net in his first four matches with Napoli and scored his first Serie A goal for the side after just seven minutes of play. He scored two hat tricks in January of 2011 and put in two stoppage time goals that helped Napolia advance past the group stages in the Europea League.
A two-match ban is ultimately the only obstacle that stood between the Uruguayan sensation and the Serie A scoring title. At the end of the season, the striker signed for Napoli until 2016—he had previously been playing on loan from Palermo.
The Skinny: Writing anything about Lionel Messi seems like an ultimately futile endeavor. Let’s put it this way: the guy’s surname is the first five letters of “Messiah.”
With the Champion’s League final looming, we don’t actually know how many goals Messi will finish the season with, but right now he’s on 52 goals and 24 assists in 54 matches across all competitions.
So, Messi has contributed directly to 76 goals in 54 matches. That’s not too shabby.
The easiest, and in many ways only, thing you can say about Messi is this: every time you think he’s done something you’ve never seen and will never see anyone do again, he does something even more flabbergasting moments later.
Messi is a tiny Argentine Michael Jordan who works miracles with his feet.