Any such list that showcases the supposed “best” of anything is going to come under some scrutiny from observers, fans and analysts, and that includes a list of the best strikers in all of world football today. There is, after all, no one statistic or fact that makes any talented footballer the undisputed “best” man on the planet. Total amount of goals scored during a campaign is important to consider for this discussion, of course, but that number is not just about a single individual. Even the best of solo efforts that result in tallies being notched could be the result of a player having talented teammates on the pitch with him.
The CIES Football Observatory took on the task of finding the man who is truly the best striker in the world today earlier this year, and that organization's findings may surprise you. What was not all that shocking was that a man often referred to as the best overall player in the world's most beloved sport was atop of that list, an individual who has found fame and fortune while featuring for one of the biggest clubs on earth. It did not hurt his cause that, unlike in the spring of 2014, he and his team went on a roll and won multiple titles come the month of June.
Regardless of the amount of work that was put into that CIES Football Observatory study, its findings are far from flawless. For example, a man who is widely considered to be at worst one of the top-three overall footballers in the world today did not even crack into the CIES top-25 strikers playing in 2015. Not only is that ridiculous. It is not something that is even worth discussing, as any list of the top strikers in the world today that does not have that man's name near or even at its very top can be tossed aside and disregarded.
15 Luca Toni
What is not to love about the story of Luca Toni? The veteran striker who turned 38-years old in May has continued to age like a fine win. Toni, who was reportedly eying retirement several years ago, finished the campaign with a share of the Serie A Golden Boot award, the oldest player in history to ever earn that honor. While his best overall days on the pitch are in the rear view mirror, one has to respect what he contributed while featuring in what is one of the best leagues in the world. The A-League may soon come calling for Toni's services and he deserves a little champagne football before he rides off into the sunset for good.
14 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Both Alexandre Lacazette and Andre-Pierre Gignac finished the Ligue 1 campaign with more league goals than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Would you honestly, if able to form your own squad for a match played in 2015 alone, take either one of those two individuals ahead of the man who asks us via social media to “Dare to Zlatan?” One man who would not do so is Brazilian legend Ronaldo, who called the Paris Saint-Germain tailsman the best striker in the world today earlier this year. That is high praise for a man who has routinely hit highlight-reel goals in club and national team competitions during his career.
13 Mauro Icardi
Get used to seeing Mauro Icardi on these lists for the foreseeable future. The Inter forward was the only man to match the Serie A goal tally notched by Luca Toni in the 2014-15 campaign. Just as noteworthy is that Icardi turned just 22-years old earlier this year. What Icardi has accomplished in his brief career has not gone unnoticed by some of the biggest clubs in the world. Real Madrid continue to be linked with the potential superstar goal-scorer, and history has shown that Real will more likely than not eventually get their man through transfer negotiations.
12 Alexandre Lacazette
The one thing to remember when ranking Alexandre Lacazette along with other great strikers in the world today: The French forward turned just 24-years old in May of this year, and thus the hope moving forward is that his best days will be to come. Lacazette somewhat quietly finished the season as the Ligue 1 Golden Boot winner, depositing a total of 27 league goals while featuring for Lyon. One of several young Ligue 1 stars who could be on the move before September of 2015 arrives, Lacazette is reportedly being pursued by multiple Premier League sides. Either Liverpool or Arsenal could land his signature this summer.
11 Robert Lewandowski
Probably the biggest criticism one will find when reading up on Robert Lewandowski is that he can, at times, be a little streaky. You can say that about a lot of strikers out there. Only one man, attacking midfielder Alexander Meier, scored more Bundesliga goals in 2014-15 than Lewandowski (both Lewandowski and teammate Arjen Robben hit for 17 league tallies last season). The Bayern Munich star made international headlines in June of 2015 when he grabbed a hat-trick in four minutes of play while featuring for the Poland Men's National Team. Lewandowski will be looking to bring that kind of form to Champions League matches next season.
10 Carlos Tevez
He has made enemies among pockets of fans because of the perception that he is a mercenary who will happily score for whatever club is willing to make it financially worth his while. One cannot deny that Carlos Tevez has proven to have eyes for goal in domestic and European competitions while featuring for multiple clubs, most recently for Serie A kings Juventus. Tevez is believed to be on his way home, as Boca Juniors is calling for the front man to return to where his professional career began. While Tevez could still play for a number of Champions League sides, one cannot put a price on going home.
Opinions on Neymar vary seemingly per fan and per analyst who has a hot take on the Brazilian forward who has played multiple roles since linking up with Barcelona. While some would see the flashy play-maker as a bit overrated and a player who goes to ground far too easily, others would claim that Neymar has the goods to be the next big thing in the game after the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are no longer the best footballers in the world. All would do well to remember that Neymar is only 23-years old. His best days at the club and national team levels are ahead of him.
8 Diego Costa
A history of controversial events has resulted in Diego Costa being labeled a dirty player by some who would remember some unfortunate moments that have involved the striker during his professional career. Whether it be for Atletico Madrid or for Chelsea, Costa has been a hit who has struck for memorable goals in clutch moments, and he has been mentioned among the best forwards in La Liga and in the Premier League. There were rumors during the spring months that Costa could be looking to end his time with the London outfit after a single season, reports that the striker have since squashed.
7 Bas Dost
Unlike peers such as Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski, Bas Dost has not featured for a Bayern Munich side that has essentially been guaranteed a league title as of late. Wolfsburg finished a distant second behind Bayern in the Bundesliga table, but the Wolfsburg front man was only a trio of goals away from a share of the league's Golden Boot award. Dost may prove to be not long for the Bundesliga if certain rumors are to be believed. The Dutch forward has been linked with a move to the Premier League, and Newcastle are believed to be seeking his services for the upcoming season.
6 Sergio Aguero
It seems, at times, as if too many in the footballing world take Sergio Aguero for granted. Maybe it is because he plays for Manchester City, a club that falls under the City Football Group umbrella that is able to seemingly spend whatever amount of money needed to build a squad that is a favorite to win the Premier League on a yearly basis. Aguero unquestionably has a ton of talent around him each time he takes the pitch wearing City blue, but do not let that reality take away from the contributions that he has made for the club over the years.
5 Harry Kane
He is the only striker in the top-five of this list to not be featuring for a Champions League side last season or during the upcoming campaign. He does not, unlike many of his peers, play in a starting lineup that is filled with men widely recognized as the best players in the world. Tottenham Hotspur forward Harry Kane was a revelation while playing under manager Mauricio Pochettino in 2014-15, finishing behind only Sergio Aguero in Premier League goals tallied during the season. It is Kane who is now viewed as England's best striker. No pressure moving forward on you, Mr. Kane.
4 Luis Suarez
There was a time when it appeared as if karma had finally caught up with the front man who has bitten opponents on multiple occasions, most recently during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Luis Suarez struggled to make impacts during his early days at Barcelona following his anticipated move from Liverpool to the Spanish giants, but the Uruguayan star eventually found his form and helped Barca win the La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles. Talent has rarely been the issue regarding Suarez, who, to his credit, behaved himself in his first La Liga campaign.
3 Arjen Robben
Say whatever you will about the controversy and criticisms that Arjen Robben conjures up whenever he makes news for a certain despicable tactic. That he nearly won the Bundesliga Golden Boot award despite being sidelined for a significant amount of time because of a calf injury shows just how talented a striker the 31-year old continues to be despite kicking off what should be the twilight of his career. Yes, Robben goes to ground far too often, and yes, that will affect his overall legacy. Robben is nevertheless still a striker who could feature for just about any team in the world.
2 Cristiano Ronaldo
The CIES Football Observatory listed Cristiano Ronaldo as the 29th best striker in the world today, back in March of this year. That alone should offer a reminder to everybody that numbers and stats often tell tall tales. Ronaldo ended the campaign with 48 tallies in La Liga play and an additional 10 in European action. The all-time great was also the main reason for why Portugal managed to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Maybe a manager would not choose Ronaldo as his first player if that boss was able to build a dream team. Ronaldo is nevertheless still worthy of being so high in this list.
1 Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi sitting atop this list as of June 2015 is a reminder of how quickly things can change in a year. It was back in the spring of 2014 when Real Madrid were the kings of club football, Cristiano Ronaldo was far and away the best player in the world, and Barcelona were in full-on crisis mode. Messi and Barca have since leapfrogged Ronaldo and Real in the La Liga table and in the Champions League competition, making the Argentinian living legend worthy of being named the top striker in the world today; for now, that is. Ronaldo will begin to attempt to reclaim his throne starting in August.