Five Best False 9s in Football in 2023 [See Full List]


Football is fast changing with the false 9s role increasingly becoming more relevant than ever.

Unlike normal forwards, a false 9 operate from deeper positions on the pitch. He serves two critical functions – a hitman role and a disruptor.

As a hitman, false 9s are also target strikers saddled with the traditional functions of normal strikers – scoring goals. As a disruptor, false 9s rip apart the opposition defense to create goal-scoring chances for the normal striker or any other player.

Futballnews take a look at the five best false 9s in 2023 ranked in no particular order

Thomas Muller

Best false 9s

Thomas Muller is an attacking sensation. His is versatile on the pitch and can roll from any angle as an attacker. The German international has been deployed as a false 9, attacking midfielder, and as a normal attacker.

Thomas Muller’s distinct trait as an attacker is his great positioning skills and strength. He also has a good work rate. Muller has 144 goals in his 441 appearances for Bayern Munich.

Lionel Messi

Best false 9s

Lionel Messi, 37, is one of the greatest geniuses football had ever known. It is not surprising he fits perfectly into the false 9 attacking innovation in football with his great dribbling, passing and positioning skills.

Unlike Thomas Muller, Lionel Messi doesn’t function on center-forward roles. He attacks deep from the midfield and creates opportunity for goals.

Lionel Messi hit 474 La Liga goals in 520 appearances for Barcelona; he has 21 goals for PSG and 102 for Argentina, playing mostly as a false 9.

Roberto Firmino

Best false 9s

Roberto Firmino is an all rounder in attacking football. Right from his days at Hoffenheim in Germany, the Brazil international has been prolific.

He could attack on the left-wing, central position or even as a normal forward. When he first arrived at Liverpool in 2015, he was deployed mainly as left-winger by Brendan Rodgers but ended up switching more to the false 9 role under Jurgen Klopp.

Firmino is a tricky player with a flair for a more attacking football. He can shoot and dribble coupled with great passing skills necessary for a playmaking role.

He has 81 Premier League goals for Liverpool and will leave the club at the end of this season.

Antoine Griezmann

Best false 9s

Antoine Griezmann, 32, is another attacking genius in false 9 role. Like Thomas Muller, Griezmann can play outright top 9 and false 9 role.

The French footballer is versatile. In the 2022 World Cup, France head coach, Didier Deschamps was short of options at the middle park with Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante sidelined.

Antoine Griezmann was deployed mainly as a box-to-box midfielder and he did great with his positioning skills.

He is perfect on false and top 9 role. He scored 46 goals for Real Sociedad, 106 goals for Atletico Madrid, and 22 goals for Barcelona.

Griezmann has also bagged 43 goals in his 119 appearances for France.

Gody Gakpo

Best false 9s

Gody Gakpo, 24, is another false 9 sensation on the rise. Joining Liverpool in January, the Dutch forward has already clicked into Jurgen Klopp’s attacking style.

Jurgen Klopp is deploying Gody Gakpo mainly on false 9 role with the Dutch building his game and momentum with the Merseyside club.

Gakpo mostly attacks from the left wing but can easily switch into central attacking positions with his right foot. He scored 17 goals with Jong PSV, 36 goals with PSV Eindhoven, and has recorded 6 goals with Liverpool and Netherlands.


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