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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31187927 World class World+class World

Soccer, put simply, is simply about putting the ball in the back of the net. Every great team needs a goalscorer, whether they work as a pair or operate as a lone wolf. They don’t even have to be wonderful footballers, as long as they possess a finishing touch. This list, though, just so happens to contain some of the greatest players ever to have played the beautiful game…

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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31187922 Lionel Messi, Barcelona/ Argentina Lionel+Messi%2C+Barcelona%2F+Argentina World

The greatest single player in the game right now, Messi shattered records last season and set a mark that will be hard to surpass. What is there left to say about a man who can create and score seemingly at will? The only people who disagree with his stature are Madrid partisans – and Argentine gripers who don’t seem to realize his national team simply isn’t as complete as his Barcelona side.

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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31190246 Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid/Portugal Cristiano+Ronaldo%2C+Real+Madrid%2FPortugal World

Real Madrid smashed the transfer record in 2008 to sign CR7 for £80million ($131m), but after 112 goals in 101 La Liga games since, some might say Los Merengues got themselves a bargain.


Ronaldo came to prominence at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson, who saw enough raw talent in a tall, sliver of a teenager to pay £12million to Sporting Lisbon in 2003. After a settling-in period at Old Trafford, Ronaldo moved inside off the right touchline to score 31 goals in 34 games in 2007-08 – a haul which helped United win the domestic and European titles, with Ronaldo bagging the Ballon d’Or all to himself. Another fine season followed, but by then, a move to Madrid had already been agreed for a world-record fee.


Ronaldo averaged over a goal a game during his first two seasons in Spain, but remained somewhat in the shadow of Lionel Messi, whose exploits were helping Barcelona dominate the continent. Even a total of 46 goals was bettered by Messi’s 50, but the Real Madrid man had the last laugh as Jose Mourinho’s side claimed the La Liga title, thanks in no small part to Ronaldo’s late winner in the Nou Camp clasico.

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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31187923 Wayne Rooney, Manchester United/England Wayne+Rooney%2C+Manchester+United%2FEngland World

The “bulldog” for United, when Rooney is in form, he is truly a world-class player. Able to score and create, he is also an on-field leader. What he has not been able to do is translate that club form into success for his country, leading some to wonder if he is a one-dimensional talent. Certainly, Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t think so.

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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31190254 Neymar, Santos/Brazil Neymar%2C+Santos%2FBrazil World

The Mohawk-sporting Brazilian has been next big thing for the past three years for a reason: Santos’ hit man, only 20-years-old, can score goals at will and is racking them up for both club and country. The subject of a feverish bidding war between Real Madrid and Barcelona and already an international superstar, Neymar is emerging as Messi’s heir apparent.

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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31187925 Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden/AC Milan Zlatan+Ibrahimovic%2C+Sweden%2FAC+Milan World

The big Swede scored one of the great goals of the Euros, a scissoring volley past France that will make highlight reels for decades to come. A striker of unsurpassed technical quality, he is often derided as slow and lazy. In fact, he’s usually just picking his spots and saving his strength. Can score from anywhere on the field, and is deadly with the ball at his feet.

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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31190257 Clint Dempsey, Fulham/United States Clint+Dempsey%2C+Fulham%2FUnited+States World

The American enjoyed a career year at Fulham and the question now is: will he stay at Craven Cottage? Dempsey’s made no secret of the fact that he wants to play Champions League soccer and Liverpool and Arsenal are among the clubs eyeing his services. He’s streaky, but when he is on a tear, he is very deadly. He’s also got the heart of a champion and that’s a big asset.

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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31190252 Sergio Aguero, Manchester City/Argentina Sergio+Aguero%2C+Manchester+City%2FArgentina World

Brilliant and deadly, "Kun" powered City to the title with a run of form in front of the net that was as stylish as it was thrilling. Able to score from anywhere on the field, Aguero is best when he’s running on to the ball, and with David Silva providing him the service, he has proved to be nigh impossible for opponents to stop. He can be careless, and he does miss sitters. But he’s true quality.

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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31190251 Robin van Persie, Arsenal/Netherlands Robin+van+Persie%2C+Arsenal%2FNetherlands World

The Dutch striker had a career year last year, single-handedly saving Arsenal’s season while scoring 37 goals across all competitions. He is the subject of heated transfer speculation with Manchester City reportedly prepping a monster bid, but Holland’s weak show at the Euros is thought to have cooled some of his value on the open market. Arsenal’s captain was also their MVP last season.

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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31190258 Didier Drogba, Shanghai Shenhua/Cote D’Ivoire Didier+Drogba%2C+Shanghai+Shenhua%2FCote+D%26rsquo%3BIvoire World

Too old? Playing for a weird team? Give me a break: Drogba is still the big game talent who put Chelsea on his back and led them to Champions League glory. He’s no longer as flashy as he once was – not, it must be said, as petulant – but in big games, he’s the man you must have on the field. Chelsea’s loss is China’s gain.

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World 2018 43 World Football Rankings: Top strikers 31190259 Mario Gomez, Bayern Munich/Germany Mario+Gomez%2C+Bayern+Munich%2FGermany World

Gomez is one of those strikers that frustrates and delights in equal measure: when he is riding a hot patch, he seems to conjure goals out of this air. But when he is cold, he can look as if he’s never played the game in his life. Gomez is very good in the air, and is a powerful force down the gut; what he lacks is perhaps some basic decision-making: he would be more productive if he took fewer gambles.

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