Summer Transfer Frenzy: Are Strikers Worth Their Weight in Goals?

The summer transfer market just went off with a couple of high powered Exocet missiles from central Spain, leaving some of us thinking that nothing will ever be the same again. A seemingly obscene (vulgar even!) amount of money may be about to change hands with many of Europe’s top clubs in the market for a striker (amongst others).

Nothing excites the fan more than a proven goal-scorer donning the shirt and declaring his intent to a nose full of microphones.

Let me clarify at the outset that I am talking about strikers here not creative attacking players, regardless of how prolific they might be in terms of goals. Think in terms of the old fashioned centre-forward as opposed to the inside-right or inside-left or the No.10, a term some like to use to make the distinction. Stateside they struggle a little with this concept so I’ll stay well away from talking about ‘offensive’ players as only some of those about to be mentioned are actually that!

Carlos Tevez was the subject of much divided opinion amongst Manchester United fans recently. “Sign him up!” rang out from several tiers at Old Trafford on more than one occasion towards the end of the season and Carlos milked it to the fullest! Others, however, didn’t think him worth the money. “All perspiration and no inspiration” the other camp declared, and “he just doesn’t score enough for a striker!” or “No better than Kuyt” was the worst insult I saw levelled in this debate. Ouch!

And then there were the inevitable comparisons with Berbatov. “The wrong player was let go!” some United fans cried, whilst others insist that Berba “has far more class and talent than Carlos”. Work rate and enthusiasm score heavily in Tevez’s favour whilst a languid style and sulky demeanor weigh against Berbatov.

Down at The Emirates most Arsenal fans have seemingly lost patience with Adebayor, as it appears has Arsene. “Lazy and a bad attitude” sums up the case for the prosecution as does “No loyalty and disruptive in the dressing room.” or “With Van Persie and Arshavin in the ranks who needs him anyway…..?”

I’ve always wondered about that “disruptive in the dressing room” thing! Are we talking about the puerile pulling of teammate’s hair and flicking elastic bands at the unsuspecting or is it the more sinister practice of declaring that one has the biggest willy and constantly calling for a tape measure if challenged? Please share your thoughts if you have an insight!

Meanwhile, over at Anfield Liverpool fans will tell you that “Torres is the best pound for pound striker in the world at present” (someday they’ll go metric in the UK) and many neutrals/rivals (including yours truly) would agree with that assessment. The issue there is the need for a support/ back-up striker.

The transfer market rumour machine is out of the blocks and we hear that Benzema, Eto’o, Ibrahimovic, David Villa and Aguero could all be bought at the right price (monopoly money in all cases!). Santa Cruz has already signed for City and Tevez is likely to follow suit very soon. Real Madrid have made Huntelaar and Van Nistelrooy ‘available’ while the intentions of Ancelotti regarding Anelka and Drogba are not yet clear. Pato has aroused Chelsea’a interest and Forlan could yet come under the spotlight.

One hack even suggested, on what must have been a very slow day at the office, that Torres could be off to United! About as likely as Cashley re-signing for Arsenal or Berbatov and Adebayor turning into a couple of grinning sprinters you would have thought! And if some of you think that Baghdad looks ugly right now, put that deal through and you’ll see an instant shift of focus from President Obama regarding the world’s trouble spots!

So how do we actually rate players or, in this case, strikers? There is a certain amount of subjectivity involved but is some of it misguided? Unlike players in any other position there is a clear measurement for strikers………….…the cold currency of goals.

Goals may not be the be all and end all but they’re a damn big piece of the be all and end all if you’re a striker!

Did some fans give too much weighting to Tevez for his ‘likeability’ and work-rate? I’m with the fans who say “show me the money,” or “where’s the beef”……………. the ‘money’ and ‘beef’ in question being found, in this instance, in the ‘goals-scored’ column. Somewhere out there is a rate of goal-scoring that is such as to provoke debate and disagreement amongst fans when judging strikers and somewhere beyond that is a point where debate is benign. But where is that watershed between war and peace?

Make no mistake, 30 goals a season is a cure-all for any player/fan relationship problem you care to mention. Not wishing to demean any section of society but a one-legged cross-dressing hunchback with the moral fibre of a serial killer and a Bartonesque set of party tricks will be the first name on the team sheet every week if he’s netting at the rate of 30 goals a season, even if the begrudgers out there would constantly sneer that he’s totally one-footed (and before you write in, I accept completely that, in terms of political correctness, I haven’t a leg to stand-on on that one).

And yes, that was a rather long-winded and exaggerated way of saying that maybe Berbatov and Adebayor are being harshly judged! It depends on their goal-scoring records and where you draw the imaginary line.

We’re talking about subtle differences here, the subtle differences between the world’s best strikers…..so it’s high time I quit rambling and ‘showed you the money’, so to speak.

I’ve taken 30 current generation strikers and analysed their goals per game stats for your consumption.

But before I reveal my hand I need to be clear that I am talking about strikers. The fact that Ronaldo, Messi and Kaka would rank ‘right up there’ in this analysis is irrelevant. They’re not strikers and their goal contribution, along with everything else that they bring to the party, underlines the reason why, between them, they have won the last three ‘World Player of the Year Awards’ (OK, I spotted the mistake there but in a few months it WILL be correct and I’ll be seen as a visonary!) Ronaldo and Kaka (or in REALity you know who) have started this transfer feeding frenzy in the first place. I’ve left out Henry, Arshavin and Robinho for the same reason.

And yes, it may not be a complete list, although I’ve tried bloody hard to make it one, so if I’ve left out one of your favourites live with it. It’s representative enough to make the point (although right now I’m seriously questioning whether there actually is one!)

Note: Includes full career club and international appearances and goals.

 

 

Ratio

Avg. Goals

Ranking

Player

Games/Goals

50 Games

1

Huntelaar

1.500

33

2

Van Nistelrooy

1.614

31

3

Trezeguet

1.863

27

4

Villa

1.932

26

5

Shevchenko

1.943

26

6

Fabiano

1.989

25

7

Eto’o

1.996

25

8

Crespo

2.011

25

9

Toni

2.067

24

10

Inzaghi

2.076

24

11

Owen

2.078

24

12

Berbatov

2.092

24

13

Drogba

2.147

23

14

Podolski

2.200

23

15

Raul

2.244

22

16

Klose

2.260

22

17

Ibrahimovic

2.309

22

18

Pato

2.333

21

19

Adebayor

2.402

21

20

Benzema

2.403

21

21

Forlan

2.404

21

22

Torres

2.405

21

23

Aguero

2.557

20

24

Totti

2.607

19

25

Keane

2.614

19

26

Rooney

2.659

19

27

Tevez

2.868

17

28

Anelka

2.954

17

29

Van Persie

3.121

16

30

Santa Cruz

3.381

15

So take a minute or two to absorb that and spot where some of your favourites rank. These are the hard facts, the one true measurement we have that can’t be disputed. So what exactly does it clarify? That may come down to individual interpretation but here are some of my observations:

  • Close the book on the Berbatov v Tevez debate. 7 extra goals in a 50 game season (probably equating to several vital points and/or a cup victory or 2) says it’s Berba every time. Tevez just betters 1 goal in 3 games and ranks a lowly 26th in the pecking order.
  • And what about Adebayor? He’ll bag you 21 goals while Van Persie only grabs 16, worse than 1 in 3. That surprised me I have to say! And although I excluded Arshavin I can tell you that his ratio is 1 in 4, so if you’re an Arsenal fan don’t bank on many repeats of the Anfield ‘one man show’ in the future.
  • If Tevez does join Man City he’ll team-up with the truly non-prolific Santa Cruz. Here’s a striker who’ll average 15 goals a season for you! And although Robinho isn’t on the list I’ve run his numbers and can tell you that at 1 goal every 2.93 games he’d come-in just behind Tevez at 28th. So Mark Hughes has bought himself 3 front men who have never worried a 20 goal a season average.
  • Many people’s No.1 pick, Torres, comes in at a surprisingly low 22nd, 5 goals a season shy of his compatriot Villa and 3 short of Berbatov! So what does this tell us?
  • Huntelaar at No.1! Now Ruud was not a surprise at No.2 but I was amazed at Huntelaar. A 33 goal average puts him streets ahead of some of the other top strikers. Yes, he has played most of his career in Holland but if he was wearing clogs that makes his record even more impressive, and people have said that he didn’t do it at Madrid but he’s hardly had the chance to take his coat off yet. 8 goals in 20 appearances for Real, in a very disruptive season, was not exactly shabby! Suffice to say that if I get the call from Sir Alex in the next couple of weeks and the question posed is: “Klaas-Jan Huntelaar?” my response will be a hearty “Yes, please!” … which would not have been the case last week.
  • And what is Robbie Keane doing on the list you ask? Well I thought I’d include him to add a bit of spice. And no! … that’s not an implied reference to Paella, the national dish of Spain. And in mentioning the national dish of Spain if you think I’m going anywhere near any references to restaurants and Waiters you’ll be disappointed! Interesting though that Robbie can drop an average of 19 goals in a 50 game season and considering he only left 7 on the table by Christmas last year that says he still had 12 in his locker. Now if he’d stayed and produced even 4 or 5 of those 12 in that wobbly January/February period could the title now be…………………? No! Let’s not go there!

But of course you’re right!…. and I should know better! Haven’t I written about it before Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. The above analysis is flawed!

Let’s get back to clichés! Some like to throw scorn on a good cliché but a cliché becomes what it is largely because it’s a truism. I know I’m Irish but that’s not why I’m defending the cliché ridden David O’Leary, and if I might borrow from the great man: “as I say, at the end of the day a striker is only as good as his last season.“

Never a truer word spoken! But let’s just broaden that a little and look at the stats over the last three seasons. If you’re going to splash the cash on a striker you’ll be looking in this direction rather than the above table, so take another 5 to absorb this.

Note: Only includes club appearances/goals, as trying to get an annual breakdown for international games/goals….well…almost cost me a breakdown.

 

 

 Ratio

Avg. Goals

Career

Position

Ranking

Player

Games/Goals

50 Games

Position

Change

1

Huntelaar

1.472

34

1

0

2

Van Nistelrooy

1.476

34

2

0

3

Eto’o

1.597

31

7

4

4

Villa

1.730

29

4

0

5

Forlan

1.747

29

21

16

6

Ibrahimovic

1.758

28

17

11

7

Totti

1.800

28

24

17

8

Trezeguet

1.828

27

3

-5

9

Torres

1.908

26

22

13

10

Toni

2.004

25

9

-1

11

Drogba

2.032

25

13

2

12

Benzema

2.048

24

20

8

13

Inzaghi

2.058

24

10

-3

14

Raul

2.102

24

15

1

15

Fabiano

2.137

23

6

-9

16

Pato

2.195

23

18

2

17

Adebayor

2.224

22

19

2

18

Podolski

2.305

22

14

-4

19

Van Persie

2.333

21

29

10

20

Klose

2.339

21

16

-4

21

Berbatov

2.400

21

12

-9

22

Rooney

2.410

21

26

4

23

Crespo

2.414

21

8

-15

24

Keane

2.456

20

25

1

25

Aguero

2.600

19

23

-2

26

Anelka

2.720

18

28

2

27

Owen

2.826

18

11

-16

28

Santa Cruz

2.938

17

30

2

29

Tevez

3.098

16

27

-2

30

Shevchenko

4.208

12

5

-25

So that’s the list for buying purposes and what’s changed?

  • Huntelaar holds his place at No.1! Definitely worth a punt in my view!
  • And Ruud also holds onto No.2! if he can stay fit he’s gotta be worth a chance for the likes of Spurs…and was Sir Alex rash in selling him when he did?
  • David Villa also holds his 4th place. No wonder everyone is interested and Eto’o also surprised me. Worth the money if Barca want to sell?
  • The big negative movers from the ‘total career’ table are Fabiano, Berbatov, Crespo, Owen and Shevchenko. No surprises there except for Berbatov. Berbatov’s first season at United hurt his stats but he’s still comfortably ahead of Tevez.
  • The big upward movers are Forlan, Ibra, Totti, Torres, Benzema and Van Persie.
  • But Torres is still only in 9th! Considering he’s my first choice this doesn’t quite gel!
  • And even though Van Persie jumps 10 places he just scrapes over the 20 goals a season mark and still trails Adebayor.
  • At 28th and 29th Santa Cruz and Tevez don’t impress any more than they did on the first list.
  • And what of Rooney? Being played out of position or flattering to deceive?

I could go on but by now you’re already asleep or have jumped to the response column and are about to fillet me with your razor sharp tongues.

Food for thought though?

How do you rate your strikers?

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20 Comments

  1. Brandon 27 June, 2009
  2. R.V Nistelrooy 27 June, 2009
  3. Ruud van Nistelrooy 27 June, 2009
  4. R.V Nistelrooy 27 June, 2009
  5. Madridista 27 June, 2009
  6. PrettyP 27 June, 2009
  7. fearflash 27 June, 2009
  8. Mafia 28 June, 2009
  9. Destrier 28 June, 2009
  10. Jake 28 June, 2009
  11. - 28 June, 2009
  12. ish 28 June, 2009
  13. BD Condell 28 June, 2009
  14. Troy 28 June, 2009
  15. Troy 28 June, 2009
  16. Madridista 28 June, 2009
  17. Ryan 29 June, 2009
  18. BD Condell 29 June, 2009
  19. Robbert 29 June, 2009
  20. Bestplayersdirectory.com 14 July, 2009