10 Best Strikers Of The 21st Century

9. Robin Van Persie

Total career goals: 323

With the 10th spot symbolically attributed to Torres, the 9th spot was the most open on this list, and this writer long hesitated between Robin Van Persie and Edinson Cavani.

Both had decent arguments going for them. You can point to the fact that Cavani, while still being active, has largely surpassed Van Persie’s career total, having currently scored 396. At the same time, Cavani scored most these goals in Ligue 1 and Serie A, who are respectively the fifth and fourth best divisions according to UEFA's association club coefficient. Van Persie on the other hand was one of the best strikers in the second-placed Premier League. When it comes to national teams, both have enjoyed success. Cavani netted 48 times for his country and won the 2011 Copa America, whereas Van Persie scored 50, and helped the Netherlands reach honourable second and third place finishes at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

In the end, what made the balance tilt towards the Dutchman, and one area in which he slightly edges Cavani, is the quality of goals scored. Van Persie was the rightful heir to his compatriots Van Basten and Bergkamp: a classy, elegant player, who always managed not just to score but do so in eye-catching fashion. That’s not to say Cavani hasn’t netted brilliant strikes, but just consider Van Persie’s header against Spain in the World Cup and his volleys against Charlton with Arsenal in 2006 and against Aston Villa with Manchester United in 2013. All three are amongst the most stunning, unique and irreproducible of the 21st century, and are what earn him a place on this list.

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