1. Luis Suárez
Total career goals: 463 and counting
In this writer’s humble opinion, of all the strikers present in this piece, one is actually in a different category than the rest. Only one deserves the moniker of genius. Style and substance considered, Luis Suárez cannot be anywhere but on top of such a list.
Substance first: El Pistolero, as they aptly call him, gunned down the opposition’s net 463 times in his career. Assist stats are hard to come by, but there’s no doubt he probably piled more of these up than any other player in this list as well. He is Uruguay’s all-time top scorer (58) and in just five seasons is already Barcelona’s fourth top scorer of all time. He’s the only player since 2009 to win the European Golden Shoe besides Ronaldo in Messi. In 2016, he topped La Liga tables for both goals and assists, as he contributed to 82 - let me repeat that - 82 goals in all competitions. (Ballon d’Or rankings often leave a lot to be desired, but that Suárez never once sat on the podium, not even that season, is one of the most sensible grudges one can have against the award).
And then there’s style: Suárez’s offensive play is amazing. He sees what we don’t even see from our TV sets, be it a sneaky shooting angle or a killer back pass. He's the master of feigning to touch the ball then letting it run to a teammate. And when it comes to his goals, can any other active player, except Ibrahimović, match their sheer beauty? From outside-the-area volleys to nutmeg-filled solo runs to acrobatic tijeras, you can always count on him to have fans picking up their jaws off the floor. Just last month, against Inter Milan and Sevilla FC, Suárez scored two goals which would’ve been career highlights for a vast majority of strikers. Yet, are those goals even in his personal top 20? World-class is a euphemism for Suárez’s strikes.
He may be somewhat falling off since last season, but his spot as the greatest Number 9 of the century so far is undeniable. The thing is, every other striker in this list could have claimed to be, in periods of their career, amongst the best or even the best Number 9 in world football. But from 2014 to 2017, Luis Suárez was one of the very best players in the world period, and at times, the best.