"No Messi ? Are you on drugs ??" " Where the f*** is Cristiano Ronaldo ??" "You forgot Henry..."
In order to prevent you from waisting your time (and space on WhatCulture's comment section) with such remarks, let us first describe what we mean by 21st century strikers. For the purpose of this list, striker refers to classical Number 9s, who play at the front of the attack. Wingers, even those who score a-plenty like Neymar or Arjen Robben, are therefore not eligible. It also means in-behind second strikers - players like Thierry Henry but also Wayne Rooney, Antoine Griezmann or Alexis Sanchez - were not considered. The cases of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are less straightforward, as they both unsurprisingly shone in that position whenever they took it. We decided to omit them for two reasons: firstly, they both played as wingers more often than not throughout their careers. Secondly, because it would obviously ruin the suspense of the top two.
As for the 21st century limit, let us consider that only strikers who started playing regularly in the 1999-2000 season are eligible (the odd U21 match played in 1998 doesn’t count). This is why Ronaldo, Michael Owen, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Miroslav Klose, Luca Toni or Hernan Crespo do not feature.
Honorable mentions go to Diego Forlan, Edin Dzeko, Olivier Giroud, and most notably to Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuaín and Edinson Cavani. Players like Roberto Firmino, Harry Kane or even Romelu Lukaku are surely on their way but it’s still a tad early to include them in the conversation.