The cult of the striker is something that has existed as long as football has been played. As the old adage goes, if you can’t score, you can’t win. By extension, therefore, there is no man on a football pitch more revered and worshipped than the man who scores goals.
The names of famous strikers spring to mind almost as quickly as they scored – Henry, Greaves, Dixie Dean, Law, van Nistelrooy, Shearer, yet despite the evident class of these names, can it be said that any one of them are the best English football has seen? Is there a new kid on the block currently in the process of taking away their well-earned titles?
Sergio Aguero, Man City’s diminutive Argentinian, is currently in the form of his life. Averaging a goal every 108 minutes, ‘Kun’ is easily the most potent striker in English penalty boxes right now, a fact made clear during the 4-1 demolition of Tottenham last weekend, where Aguero scored all 4 goals.
Perhaps slightly underwhelming on the national stage, consistently pushed into the background by Leo Messi, his quality is brutally clear on the global stage of the Premier League. With a style similar to a small terrier; strong, quick and immensely skilled, Aguero represents the modern striker in its purest form.
Statistically though, he’s not the best. Ever the man to set the standard for strikers in England, Jimmy Greaves during his famous spell with Tottenham averaged 0.68 goals a game. For comparison, Aguero averages a mere 0.64. But the similarities don’t stop there – Greaves was also consistently praised for his pace and composed finishing, as well as never shying away from an aerial dual, it seems the Aguero-esque striker is the striker for England.
There is perhaps only one other way of playing that proved to be as potent as the Aguero/Greaves style. Ruud van Nistelrooy, one of the most prolific strikers in the history of Manchester United was possibly one of the most one-dimensional players around. His positioning in the box twinned with a burst of pace made him almost unplayable. Central defenders consistently struggled to keep tabs on him and he only seemed to come alive within the box, one of the reasons he only scored one goal from outside of the box for Manchester United. Just to show how incredible a stat that is, that’s 95 goals in the space of 5 years, with all but one scored within 18 yards of the goal, making van Nistelrooy the closest thing football has ever come to the perfect poacher.
Another style that springs to mind is Thierry Henry, arguably the man that singlehandedly made Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ in 2004 so invincible. With 30 goals in 37 games, his immense pace and strength, alongside the composure only a Frenchman can truly claim to have, made him utterly unstoppable. As well as his success with Arsenal and his rightful place as a legend within the game, compared to the greats his goal per game ratio is up there with Jimmy Greaves at a whopping 0.68 per game.
Other names deserve a mention too. The legend of Everton’s Dixie Dean in the 1920s, the most prolific striker in the history of English football, averaged 0.86 goals a season. Alan Shearer, who in his spell at Blackburn averaged a whopping 0.81 goals per game, is statistically the best striker of the 1990s by a long way.
But Sergio Aguero is something different, something that English football hasn’t seen since the halcyon days of Jimmy Greaves. He’s a player that seems to simply score as a way of being, a tap in from the edge of the 6 yard box is as easy as breathing, but so is a 25 yard screamer. A mazy dribble and a composed finish, an overhead kick, you name it, Aguero is more than capable of it.
In addition to his simply immense talent for scoring goals, Aguero is also the epitome of the modern striker. His immense work-rate, twinned with his ability to create opportunities for other players make him such a vital cog in the Manchester City attack.
The fact that Aguero has 16 career assists, nearly half David Silva’s total, alongside his 61 goals in a City shirt makes Aguero the perfect modern striker.
Is he the best English football has ever seen? That question can only be answered once he has left Manchester, but if he continues in his current form for the next 5 years, that answer can only be yes.