The traditional centre-forward remains arguably the most illustrious position on the team sheet and there’s good reason why the world’s very best often command extortionate transfer fees.
Scoring goals is often labelled as the most difficult aspect of the beautiful game, but this list of fantastic finishers have made it seem rather easy in recent seasons.
Pep Guardiola and his title-chasing Manchester City side may argue differently, but the presence of an elite out-and-out number nine can often prove the difference between silverware or falling short.
Tactical innovations and trends have seen some sides move away from the centre-forward in its most traditional sense, but these five continue to fly the flag and lead the line in fine fashion.
Picking out a star striker is something those interested in online gambling love to do, so we decided to take a look at the five best out-and-out number nines in world football right now.
5. Dusan Vlahovic
Dusan Vlahovic was the major mover in the January transfer window, the Fiorentina forward signing for divisional rivals Juventus in a deal worth an initial €70m.
Juventus won the race for the Serbian’s signing ahead of a host of Europe’s leading clubs, each having registered an interest in a forward who has exploded onto the Serie A scene across the past two campaigns.
Dusan Vlahović: “There were lot of rumours about clubs from abroad… but it was an easy choice for me [to sign for Juventus]. This club has winning mentality, like me”. ⚪️⚫️ #Juventus
“I’m extremely happy – I’m joining a glorious club and this is what I wanted. I can’t wait”. pic.twitter.com/7OMzCVyNUq
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) February 1, 2022
The 22-year-old was named as the league’s Best Young Player in 2020/21, having scored 21 league goals in a breakthrough season in Florence.
Vlahovic’s sensational form has continued into the current campaign with his 33 league goals scored in 2021 equalling Cristiano Ronaldo’s divisional record for a calendar year.
No player has ever scored more goals for Fiorentina in a calendar year, with Vlahovic’s prolific form comfortably breaking the records set by illustrious names including Gabriel Batistuta (23), Luca Toni (24) and I Viola’s record goalscorer Kurt Hamrin (27).
He ranked second for goals scored in Europe’s top five leagues across the same period and Juventus will be looking to build their side around the imposing Vlahovic as the Bianconeri look towards the future.
4. Ciro Immobile
Vlahovic’s remarkable return has not seen him escape Ciro Immobile in the race for the Capocannoniere as the league’s leading scorer, however, with the Lazio forward level at the top of the rankings with 17 goals this season.
Immobile’s haul has come in two less games than Vlahovic with the Italy international remaining one of Europe’s elite marksman.
The 31-year-old formed part of the Azzurri side that won last summer’s European Championship and has returned to club level in exceptional form, with his record for Lazio having been phenomenal since his arrival in Rome in 2016.
— S.S.Lazio (@OfficialSSLazio) February 2, 2022
Immobile has now scored 140 league goals in just 196 appearances for the capital club, whilst in 2019/20 he became the just the second player in over a decade to beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the European Golden Shoe – following a record-equalling 36-goal Serie A season.
The forward is in pursuit of his fourth Capocannoniere award this season, having won one with Torino and two with Lazio. He could move second in Serie A history for number of leading scorer awards won this season, behind only AC Milan legend Gunnar Nordahl.
3. Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland will be the most coveted talent in world football this summer, as Europe’s leading clubs scramble to secure his signing from Borussia Dortmund.
The Norwegian’s €75m release clause will become active at the end of the season and it is a fee that represents a bargain given his exploits since moving to the Westfalenstadion.
Haaland has averaged better than a goal-per-game since moving to Dortmund from Red Bull Salzburg, scoring 80 goals in just 79 appearances across all competitions for the Bundesliga side.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) September 19, 2021
He has broken a whole host of goalscoring records, including becoming the youngest player to finish as the Champions League’s leading scorer and reach 20 goals in the competition.
Perhaps his finest record was becoming the fastest footballer to 20 goals in the Champions League, incredibly reaching the figure in just 14 appearances and eclipsing the previous record holder, Harry Kane, by a staggering 10 games.
Haaland is a frightening talent and at 21 has the potential to get even better in the coming seasons, his combination of pace, power and finishing – alongside an insatiable appetite for goals and records – a potent one.
2. Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema continues to shine in the autumn of his career, the Real Madrid forward having taken his game to new levels in recent seasons.
Benzema has scored has scored 303 goals in 587 appearances during an incredible career in the Spanish capital, with just three players – Alfredo Di Stefano, Raul and Cristiano Ronaldo – having ever scored more in the famous all-white colours.
There is a strong chance that the 34-year-old will move past Di Stefano in the coming months, having netted 17 league goals this season to comfortably lead the race for the Pichichi Trophy as La Liga’s leading scorer.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) October 9, 2021
Having seen Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo dominate the scene in Spain across the past decade, Benzema is now arguably the leading light in the division and the experienced figurehead leading a new-look Real Madrid side.
Blessed with a brilliance in knitting together attacks and a ruthless finishing ability when around the area, he has 24 goals from just 28 appearances in all competitions for Los Blancos this season.
He’s just eight short of equalling his career-best haul form the 2011/12 campaign and on current form few would back against him, as he fires Real Madrid’s pursuit of the La Liga title.
1. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski leads the way for out-and-out centre-forwards in world football right now, having – like Benzema – scaled new heights in the latter stages of his career.
Lewandowski enjoyed an extraordinary 2020/21 campaign to break the Bundesliga’s single season goal record, scoring an absurd 41 goals in just 29 appearances.
His goalscoring genius has seen the 33-year-old win The Best FIFA Men’s Player – not quite as catchy a name as the old FIFA World Player of the Year award – in consecutive seasons, whilst he finished as runner-up to Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or in 2021.
The ultimate No.9 doesn't exist… Oh wait 🔝
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) August 11, 2021
The Poland international has continued his excellent form this season with 23 league goals for the campaign, leading the standings in the race to win a second successive European Golden Shoe.
He has now scored a stunning 328 goals in just 357 appearances since his arrival at Bayern Munich from Borussia Dortmund almost eight years ago – not bad for a free transfer signing.