Who are the world class forwards in football right now?
Luis Suarez? Robert Lewandowski? Karim Benzema? Sergio Aguero? Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Edinson Cavani?
There are a lack of world class forwards in the game right now and aside from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the aforementioned names were all born in 1987 or 1988. But what about the next group of forwards who are under the age of 27/28?
We take a look at the next group of forwards who although are not world class now, possess the scope to potentially reach a world class level in the next few years.
Despite initially being employed out wide Aubameyang hit 16 goals in his first season. Following the departure of Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich, Auba hit 25 goals and contributed to 10 assists in 2014/15 as Dortmund’s first choice centre forward. This season, Auba already has 22 goals in all competitions and is well on course to hitting 40+ goals, a goal return that deserves serious recognition.
Auba is one of the quickest forwards around, is a very good mover off the ball and a neat finisher with both feet. Crucially, he links up play well, an attribute which all world class forwards possess.
At 26 years of age Aubameyang’s career is visibly on an upward curve and if the Gabon International continues on his current trajectory, there is no reason why the Dortmund forward won’t reach a world class level.
Morata also has the experience of scoring in some of the biggest games at club level, scoring in both Champions League Semi-Final legs vs Real Madrid and Champions League Final vs Barcelona in 2014/15.
Don’t be surprised to see Morata back at the Bernabeu either. Morata has a clause in his Juventus contract stipulating Real Madrid can buy back the Spaniard for a specified fee.
It appears Morata is in poll position to be Vincente Del Bosque’s preferred centre forward moving forward and everything points to the Juventus forward being amongst the best forwards in the game in the next 10 years.
Sturridge hit 21 goals and had 7 assists in 26 Premier League starts when Liverpool nearly won the title in 2013/14. Many will be surprised to learn that in that season, Sturridge’s goals won Liverpool more points than Luis Suarez.
Sturridge has 63 Premier League goals in 94 starts. Since 2011/12 only Sergio Aguero (0.76) and Robin van Persie (0.68) have a better goals to starts ratio than Sturridge (0.67) in the Premier League in that time.
There are, however, question marks whether Sturridge can reach his potential with his horrendous injury record over the last two years. In his book ‘My Story’, Steven Gerrard explains how he had to beg Sturridge to play against Manchester Utd. The medical team had said Sturridge was fine to play but Sturridge was reluctant. Gerrard says “Daniel is one of those people you have to boost with a come on you’re our main man, we need you”. Eventually Sturridge agreed to play and ironically scored the winner in that match.
Gerrard’s story paints a picture of a player who needs a push and is clearly reluctant to push his body through the pain barrier. Sturridge’s ability is not in question and if he can overcome his injury problems both physically and mentally, he has all the credentials to be one of the best forwards in Europe.
At 22 years of age, Icardi has already bagged 44 Serie A goals in 76 starts (97 appearances) and the Argentine’s goalscoring record since coming onto the scene with Sampdoria in 2012/13 simply cannot be ignored.
Icardi was joint Serie A Capocannoniere in 2014/15 with 22 goals in 36 appearances, making him the youngest top scorer in Serie A since Paolo Rossi in 1978. Icardi’s feat cannot be underestimated, when you consider he played for an Inter Milan side who had a turbulent campaign and finished 8th In Serie A.
Icardi has typical attributes of an archetypical penalty box centre forward. Good movement in and around the box and lethal inside the penalty area. The Argentine also has good pace and good technique with either foot but does need to improve his link up play which often lets his game down.
Inter manager, Roberto Mancini has appointed Icardi Inter’s captain for 2015/16 and this experience at such a young age could prove invaluable. Icardi is far from the finished article but his record at such a young age means when discussing future top class forwards, he has to be in the conversation.