The transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in the summer has coincided with the emergence of Wayne Rooney as a goal-scoring machine. Always praised for his unselfishness and work ethic, the former Evertonian has demonstrated a lethal touch in front of goal this season. Statistics show that he has banged in 28 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions thus far. He is already just one goal away from doubling his goal tally over the last two seasons in the league, which stood at a disappointingly low 12.
A lack of ruthlessness often overshadowed his faultless effort, but with the scoring exploits of Ronaldo, he was never really under huge pressure to add more goals. The loss of Ronaldo, of course, changed all this, but he has stood up, shown great consistency in front of goal and has become indispensable to Manchester United. His winning goal, another header, in United’s 2-1 Carling Cup Final victory over Aston Villa, further demonstrated that he is now the “go to” man at United.
The most impressive aspect of his game over the last couple of years, for me, is his level of discipline. Previously baited by players who knew all too well of Rooney’s fiery temperament, he has seemingly overcome this through increasing maturity. At just 24 years of age, he has his best years ahead of him and may eventually become the best player in the world. But is he already?
Former England manager Terry Venables had this to say about the striker after United’s Carling Cup victory over their Manchester rivals:
While I do not believe he is the best player in the world at this moment, his display against Manchester City confirmed to me that he is the nearest thing to Diego Maradona these shores have ever produced.
Coming to Liverpool with a question mark over his goal-scoring prowess at former club Atletico Madrid, he quickly set about proving his doubters wrong. In an astonishing first season, Torres amassed 33 goals in only 46 appearances, winning the hearts of the fans not only with his torrent of goals, but also with his skill and commitment. He also became a national hero, with his goal giving Spain victory in the Euro 2008 Final.
His second season saw him score freely again, with 14 goals in 24 starts, although niggling hamstring problems proved a frustration. In a struggling Liverpool team this term and again being forced to watch from the stands for large periods due to injury, he has still managed 13 goals in just 17 league appearances. Admittedly, he too has struggled for form at times on the field, but strikers are paid to score goals, which he has again delivered to a desperate side.
As recent as December, he was widely accepted as the best striker in Britain. But his injuries and Rooney’s outstanding form have quickly changed people’s opinions, however it must be pointed out that the Englishman is surrounded by a superior group of players than Torres, making his job undeniably easier.
Liverpool legend Ian Rush is convinced that Torres is the best in the world, not just the Premier League.
Without doubt he is the best striker in the world at the moment. Lionel Messi is a great player, Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, but they are different to Torres. David Villa is a great striker as well but Torres has proved it in the English league.
Like both Rooney and Torres, Drogba is a lethal finisher and has been a consistent goal-scorer for Chelsea. His strength, speed and aerial ability make him a nightmare for defenders. But it can be argued that he is far more of a threat for Chelsea in the Champions League than the Premier League.
Statistics show that he has scored an impressive 26 goals in 53 appearances throughout their European campaigns since he arrived. Whilst he is having a brilliant season so far with 19 goals in 23 Premier League appearances, his last two seasons yielded a total of just 13 goals. It is understandable though, given he has had to adapt to three contrasting management styles since Jose Mourinho was shown the exit.
This has been no such problem for Rooney and Torres, who have had the stabilising presence of the same manager for a consistent period of time. Still, former Wolves goal-scoring hero Steve Bull rates the Ivorian as the league’s best striker.
Don’t get me wrong, Rooney is real class, but Drogba is unbelievable too. I rate him so highly. He has got the lot, he has got unbelievable strength, pace and knows how to intimidate defenders with his presence.
There are so many different opinions and I really can’t separate the three – they are all sensational strikers and key players for their respective clubs. If I had to choose, I would go for Torres, simply because I am a Liverpool fan. Without his goals this season, Liverpool would be in an even worse position than they currently are.