Ranking the Top 10 Strikers in World Football: Messi, Eto'o, Tevez, Villa...

Blake ThomasCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 2011

Ranking the Top 10 Strikers in World Football: Messi, Eto'o, Tevez, Villa...

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    Ranking the top 10 strikers in the world is always a difficult task. You can include 10 of the best players on Earth, but you'll always leave out a terrific striker.

    Then there's the question of what makes a striker one of the best. Goals and assists are no brainers, but is it numbers or quality which truly determines a great striker?

    Edinson Cavani and Andy Carroll have been impressive this season, but can these youngsters really be considered the top of the pack?

    At the same time, Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres, two of the most talented strikers in the world, have been suffering poor form as of late. Can they still be ranked among the best?

    The list I've compiled contains 10 players who have proven in the past few years that they are quality strikers, and have also continued their impressive form in recent weeks. 

10. Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich)

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    ROME - NOVEMBER 23:  Mario Gomez of  FC Bayern Muenchen celebrates after scoring the second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between AS Roma and FC Bayern Muenchen at Stadio Olimpico on November 23, 2010 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo
    Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

    A year ago, Mario Gomez wouldn't even crack the top 20 strikers in the world, but he has had a breakthrough this season and is unarguably one of Europe's most efficient strikers.

    During his time at Stuttgart, he proved to be one of the Bundesliga's top scoring threats, producing a combined 63 goals in his final two season before he transferred to Bayern Munich.

    He had a disappointing first season at Bayern, scoring only 14 times in 45 games, but has been deadly in front of goal this term, scoring six goals in the Champion's League group stages.

    Gomez is the definition of a striker. He relies on team play to score goals, but finishes with such power and class that it's hard not to include him on this list.

    Current Season Stats: 24 appearances, 20 goals

    German National Team: 41 appearances, 14 goals

9. Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid)

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    MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 03: Sergio Aguero of Atletico Madrid celebrates after scoring his second goal against Chelsea during the UEFA Champions League Group D match on November 3, 2009 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Some would say that Sergio Aguero isn't even the best striker on his team, that that accolade belongs to Diego Forlan, but I think he has been consistent enough and shown that he is really one of the world's best.

    After coming to Atletico Madrid in 2006, he has made waves in the Spanish league and been considered one of Europe's rising football talents for years now, but I believe he has finally ascended to the top.

    While he isn't a prolific scorer, he plays more of the trequartista role, scoring and setting up a fair amount of goals.

    Standing at 5'7", the 22 year old makes up for his lack of height with super ball control and great pace.

    Current Season Stats: 20 appearances, 13 goals, 4 assists

    Argentina National Team: 25 appearances, 9 goals

8. Diego Milito (Inter Milan)

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    MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 06:  Diego Milito of FC Internazionale Milano reacts during the Serie A match between Inter and Brescia at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on November 6, 2010 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    He's already 31 years old, but Diego Milito has just recently proved that he is a world class striker.

    After impressing at Genoa and Real Zaragoza, Milito earned a transfer to Inter Milan in 2009-10 and played a massive role in their treble winning season. He scored 22 times in Serie A and produced six goals, including a brace in the UEFA Champion's League Final, as he led his team to European glory.

    Diego Milito is definitely not the most imposing striker, but what he lacks for in power he makes up for with perfect timing and the ability to make space for himself. He isn't the ideal striker, but the fact of the matter is he is one of the most efficient strikers in the world and probably the most clever footballer on Earth.

    Though Milito has seen a recent dip in form, he has been dealing with injury and not provided with adequate playing time. Come January I think he will show everyone he is still one of Europe's top strikers.

    Current Season Stats: 13 appearances, 4 goals, 3 assists

    Argentina National Team: 24 appearances, 4 goals

7. Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid)

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    MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 21:  Gonzalo Higuain  of Real Madrid celebrates scoring Real's second goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Espanyol at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 21, 2010 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Gett
    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Gonzalo Higuain is only 23, and is already one of the best finishers in all of soccer. Just imagine where he will be in five years.

    The French born Argentine debuted for Real Madrid in 2006, and after a shaky two years, he erupted as one of Europe's top goal scorers.

    In his last two seasons, he has a combined 53 goals, finishing as Real Madrid's top scorer both times.

    Higuain has terrific pace and is excellent at placing himself in the right place at the right time. He is not a particularly spectacular finisher, but with work he could definitely top the list in years to come.

    Current Season Stats: 18 appearances, 10 goals, 4 assists

    Argentina National Team: 13 appearances, 7 goals

6. Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea celebrates as he scores their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on January 2, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Didier Drogba is undoubtedly one of the best strikers in the world.

    The 32-year-old Ivorian is known for his great strength and is talented at finishing with either foot, heading the ball, and most notably scoring brilliant freekicks.

    He is a very unselfish player and is great at creating opportunities for teammates.

    He is currently Chelsea's sixth all-time leading goalscorer with 140 goals since 2004, and among the top 10 leading scorers in the history of the Champion's League with 32 goals.

    If it weren't for a current dip in form, Drogba would be a sure-fire choice for the top five or even the top three!

    Current Season Stats: 23 appearances, nine goals, 10 assists

    Ivory Coast National Team: 71 appearances, 45 goals (all-time leader)

5. David Villa (Barcelona)

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 02:  David Villa of Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Levante UD at Camp Nou on January 2, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won 2-1.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
    David Ramos/Getty Images

    After debuting for Valencia in 2005, Villa went on to spend five years at the club, a period of time which saw him cement himself as one of the most efficient strikers in the world, grabbing 129 goals in 212 appearances, and setting up an additional 53.

    He has since moved to Barcelona where he has been impressive, linking up with Pedro and Messi to form a formidable goal-scoring machine. 

    Villa has also been a revelation for the Spanish international team. He is currently tied as Spain's all-time leading goal scorer with the legendary Raul, at 44 goals, and has led his country to glory in the Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup.

    While the 29 year old isn't the best in the air, he has everything else you could ask for in a striker. He possesses a great amount of power and is a clinical finisher, but his specialty is running onto threaded balls and slotting past the keeper.

    Current Season Stats: 22 appearances, 13 goals, five assists

    Spanish National Team: 70 apperances, 44 goals (tied as all-time leader)

4. Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)

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    NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Carlos Tevez of Manchester City celebrates his goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James' Park on December 26, 2010 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    Carlos Tevez is a player who causes a lot of off field antics, but the bottom line is he plays hard wherever and whenever, which makes him one of the world's best strikers.

    After impressing in Argentina and Brazil, Carlos Tevez spent a year at West Ham before he transferred to Manchester United, where he enjoyed a fairly decent career, scoring a number of important goals for his club.

    Then he came to cross city rivals Manchester City, where he has been a goal-scoring machine. Last season he finished with 29 goals in 42 appearances.

    At only 5'8", Tevez is a very small striker but is still able to score plenty of goals due to his technical skills and ability to keep possession.

    Current Season Stats: 20 appearances, 12 goals, 5 assists

    Argentina National Team: 58 appearances, 12 goals

3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan — On Loan From Barcelona)

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    MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 04:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan runs during the Serie A match between Milan and Brescia at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 4, 2010 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic has often been dubbed as inconsistent and selfish, but he has done everything to prove his critics wrong.

    During his time at Inter, he transformed into a world class striker, netting 57 times in 88 appearances and earning a big money transfer to Barcelona.

    His first season was in 2009-10 and despite a decent goal tally, he is currently out on loan to AC Milan where he has started the season in absolutely terrific fashion.

    Ibra uses his size to his advantage, making him great in the air and he's known for his strength and powerful shots.

    Current Season Stats: 22 appearances, 13 goals, seven assists

    Swedish National Team: 66 appearances, 25 goals

2. Samuel Eto'o (Inter Milan)

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    VERONA, ITALY - NOVEMBER 21:  Samuel Eto'o of FC Internazionale Milano looks on and smiles during the Serie A match between AC Chievo Verona and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Marc' Antonio Bentegodi on November 21, 2010 in Verona, Italy.  (Photo by V
    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    Samuel Eto'o is not only one of the best strikers in modern football, but also in all of history.

    He became widely recognized as one of the best in the business during his five-year stay at Barcelona, where he racked up 130 goals in 200 appearances.

    He then transferred to Inter Milan, where he played a vital roll in their 2009-10 treble winning season.

    Eto'o is known for his quick pace and agility on the ball, and despite his relatively small stature, he is great in the air and is able to score with both feet. Though he isn't the most powerful soccer player around, he has perfect timing and is a deadly finisher.

    At 29, he is currently the only player to score in two different Champion's League finals.

    Current Season Stats: 22 appearances, 17 goals

    Cameroon National Team: 101 appearances, 52 goals (all time leader)  

1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

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    ALMERIA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 20:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates after scoring Barcelona's opening goal during the La Liga match between UD Almeria and Barcelona at Estadio del Mediterraneo on November 20, 2010 in Almeria, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle
    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    While many would argue that Messi doesn't belong on this list due to his position on the wing, I beg to differ.

    He has been one of the most prolific scorers in the world for the better part of three years, but it isn't until now that he has operated as a striker on a regular basis.

    In his last six starts for Barcelona, the number 10 has operated down the middle, scoring eight goals and setting up seven.

    Messi is a small player, but makes up for that with his sublime dribbling abilities and cool finishing, which allow him to easily overpower much larger defenders.

    At only 23, Messi is already a historic player, and while much of his early success was from his play on the wing, Messi is now making a name for himself as the deadliest striker in the world and possibly all of footballing history.

    Current Season Stats: 22 appearances, 24 goals, 11 assists

    Argentina National Team: 53 appearances, 15 goals

Honorable Mention

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    PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 10: Diego Forlan of Uruguay shows his dejection after suffering defeat following the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Third Place Play-off match between Uruguay and Germany at The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 10,
    Joern Pollex/Getty Images

    This list was difficult to make because there are a lot of world class strikers out there. Here are a few names which popped into my head:

    Wayne Rooney is a world class striker, but has been suffering terrible form recently.

    Like Rooney, Fernando Torres is a quality forward, in fact he's considered the ideal No. 9, but is having a poor season.

    Diego Forlan is deadly in front of goal when he's on his game, which hasn't been since this summer.

    Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't typically operate as an out and out striker, but when he does it is to devastating effect.

    Other names I thought of: Alexandre Pato, Antonio di Natale, Edin Dzeko

    Feel free to leave your own top 10 in the comments! And by the way, I realize exactly half this list is Argentinian but this has nothing to do with my soccer preferences.

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