Through the Premier League’s history, English football’s top flight has been blessed with some of the world’s greatest centre forwards.
There’s an argument that picking the strikers for the Premier League’s greatest ever starting XI is harder than any other position, such is the depth of quality.
When trying to distinguish between players of this calibre, there’s often a tug of war between peak performance and longevity.
The players with the most goals are obvious contenders, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the top of their game was as good as someone else’s.
For much of its existence, the Premier League has been the best league in the world. Keeping that label means having the best players. This article attempts to pick between the best strikers in Premier League history.
The Premier League’s all-time top scorer might be the favourite for the ‘best striker’ title. Shearer’s records are impossible to argue with, though you could make a case that his relative lack of team success undermines his credentials.
Despite winning the league with Blackburn, and going close with Newcastle, Shearer doesn’t have the collection of medals that his ‘best striker’ rivals do.
Once the world’s most expensive player, however, and arguably the best goal scorer on the planet, Shearer was transformative in Blackburn’s surge.
His decision to join Newcastle over Manchester United was admirable and saw him become a legend at his hometown club. Without being blessed with domineering strength or electric pace, Shearer was a great technician and read the game as well as anyone.
The 260 goals are a pretty solid argument.
Only three strikers have scored more Premier League goals than Thierry Henry. Unfortunate to never win the Ballon d’Or, Henry enjoyed incredible team success throughout his career including two doubles and the Invincibles season under Arsene Wenger.
Switching from a winger to a centre forward, the Frenchman combined the dribbling and pace of a wideman with the eye for goal of a striker.
Allowed to still drift into those positions by Wenger, Henry was impossible to pick up. His movement would drag defences across the pitch, creating spaces for Robert Pires, Frederick Ljungberg and Dennis Bergkamp.
The decision to swap north London for Barcelona altered Henry’s Premier League legacy. Many will see him as a top two or top three Premier League striker, but a couple more seasons – and climbing up the goal scoring charts – could have changed that.
A bit like Shearer, longevity is the key for Wayne Rooney. Of course, peak performances for the former Manchester United man were still special, but he wasn’t quite at that best in the world level of Henry.
Comfortably in second on the all-time scoring list, however, Rooney definitely deserves consideration.
Far and above Henry and Shearer when it comes to team success, Rooney was a stalwart of Manchester United’s success in the latter Alex Ferguson years.
His ability to find a role in the team depending on his teammates was an underrated facet of his game. Whether it was Dimitar Berbatov, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez or Robin van Persie, Rooney found a way to be a key cog in Ferguson’s side.
Was Rooney the best player on his team often enough to pip Shearer and Henry to top spot?
Quickly working his way up the scoring list, Sergio Aguero might be third all-time by the end of the 2019/20 campaign.
Always a name to lookout for in Premier League Odds, the Argentinian has been central to four different title-winning Manchester City teams. His role isn’t quite the same under Pep Guardiola, but there’s no doubting his importance to City’s dynasty.
Since Aguero moved to the northwest in 2011/12, he has been the club’s top scorer in every single season (though he shared the accolade with Carlos Tevez in 2012/13.)
As punters check out this season’s opening weekend betting tips, City are title favourites once again and Aguero is in the running for the Golden Boot.
Bizarrely for a player of his standard and impact at the top of the game, Aguero sometimes feels almost underappreciated.
Acknowledged as a magnificent goal scorer, the plaudits have often fallen to other members of City’s core over the last few years. It might only be once he leaves the Premier League that we realise just how good he was.
After teenage superstardom, Michael Owen’s career feels like a case of what could have been. It’s worth remembering just how good the young Owen was.
Scoring more than 1 in 2 for Liverpool and winning the 2001 Ballon d’Or, Owen was well on course to cruise past Shearer before injuries and a spell in Madrid took his career off-piste.
Owen’s credentials as the Premier League’s best ever are for those few years of brilliance at Liverpool.
Injuries meant he doesn’t have the long period at the top of the others on this list, but the performances he was putting in around the turn of the century were extraordinary.
Owen is not a name often mentioned in discussions about the greatest Premier League players – maybe he should be?
For now at least, Shearer and Henry are a cut above the rest. Picking between the two isn’t easy.
Aguero could soon play himself into that discussion, as could Harry Kane, and there are plenty of others who would get a mention in a deeper conversation on this topic such as Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba, Andy Cole and Robin van Persie.
Shearer’s goal tally is the strongest argument of all right now, but the best of Henry is probably the greatest football we’ve seen in Premier League history.
Maybe that’s just fence-sitting – feel free to let us know who you think is the greatest ever Premier League striker.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*