This generation is blessed with some of the most technically gifted goal scorers football has ever produced. However, having supreme technically abilities don’t always breed success at the highest stage.
A perfect center forward needs to be technically brilliant, quick, creative, strong and assertive in the air, intelligent and capable of the extraordinary.
Although Lionel Messi is naturally a second-striker than a striker, he will be featured multiple times in this article because he plays the center forward position for FC Barcelona. Attributes from players like Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Jay Rodriguez of Southampton will not be used because they primarily play behind the center forwards of their respective clubs.
Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez, Dimitar Berbatov and Thierry Henry are immaculate examples of technically gifted center forwards. Each player has the ability make a defender look like a nuisance with Ronaldinho-like trickery and perfect timing of runs. These players use the exquisite first touch to create space and goal scoring opportunities. Henry, in particular, uses his first touch to create space for his trademark finish.
The best way to beat a defender is to outrun him, which is why speed is a valuable intangible for a center forward. Messi proves this every week against La Liga defenders. He uses his pace to get past bigger defenders, scorching them with his quick cutbacks and delightful nutmegs.
It’s been a dismal season for David Moyes at Manchester United, but his team is still in contention for a UEFA Champions League spot because of Wayne Rooney’s creative ability. Acording to ESPNFC, the talisman is tied with Steven Gerrard for the most assists (9) in the 2013-2014 season. Rooney’s vision is second to none. He has the ability to play the short passes, but his long range precision is preposterous.
As the furthest man up the pitch, a center forward has the responsibility of holding up the ball for his teammates. Arsenal’s Oliver Giroud, Athletico Madrid’s Diego Costa and Galatasaray’s Didier Drogba are three players that excel at holding up the ball because their physical abilities. Drogba won the hearts of Chelsea’s fans because he was able to create chances for himself when he receives a long pass or clearance.
Giroud’s presence in the air is what keeps him In Arsene Wenger’s starting line-up. According to whoscored.com, the 27-year-old wins 4 aerial duels per game. Drogba marked his final game with Chelsea with a late thumping header that sent the Champions League final into penalty kicks.
Being in the right place at the right time, beating an offside trap, making a pass instead of shooting, and losing a defender are important pieces of being a world-class goal scorer. Radamel Falcao, Federico Higuan, Daniel Sturrigde, Messi and Sergio Aguero put their names on the scoreboard because of their footballing brain. Falcao does a brilliant job of losing his marker, while Higuan is always in the right place when a cross is played into the box. Sturridge displayed his ability to beat the offside trap mid-week against Fulham.
Make impossible possible
The best of the best are able to create something out of nothing. And that is exactly what Zlatan Ibrahimovic does. The gigantic Swedish destroyer could possibly be the most entertaining center forward in the world, on and off the pitch. The magic he creates on the pitch tops his off the pitch arrogance. Ibrahimovic is capable of scoring goals most center forwards will only dream of.