Every strong football team should have one or two second strikers that will support the midfield, support the attack, provide assists, and score goals. If a second striker can do all these, such a player can pride himself as one of the best second strikers in the world.
The second strikers who are often referred to as the “number 10” play behind the “top 9”. His major role is not to score goals alone but to provide assists for the top 9. Despite his major role being assists provider, a second striker is expected to have a good technical ability (dribbling skills and ball control), acceleration, vision, passing, and link-up play, who can both score and create opportunities for a less versatile center-forward.
In the current generation of footballers, there are very few players that can perform this role as perfectly as possible. From a thorough investigation, there are currently 5 players who are performing this role gracefully and helping their teams to win games as much as possible.
Below is the list of 5 Best second strikers in the world
- Josip Ilicic
Italian Serie A club ended the 2019-2020 season on the 3rd spot on the league table for the second consecutive time in the 112 years history of the club. They didn’t only achieve that, the whole team scored a total number of 98 goals throughout the season to become the team with the highest number of goals in Italy.
More so, the team went as far as the quarter-final stage of the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League campaign despite being their first time in the tournament.
At the end of the season, two players of the squad – Luis Muriel 18 goals, Duván Zapata 18 goals, scored double digits of goals, guess who was behind them, 32-year-old Slovenian second striker Josip Ilicic.
The footballer who did not have the opportunity to be celebrated as much as he should, has proven to be one of the best second strikers in the world since he joined Atalanta in 2017. Despite his supporting role, he has scored 49 goals and has made 28 assists in 111 matches for Atalanta.
- Lautaro Martinez
Inter Milan was almost falling out of reckoning in terms of being one of the biggest names in club football especially when their former captain Mauro Icardi left the team. But the narrative changed when the club brought in 22-year-old Lautaro Martinez in 2018.
Despite his age, he has quickly established himself as one of the fiercest second strikers in the world. In fact, he is seen as the engine room of the new Inter Milan set up under coach Antonio Conte.
Martinez dexterity as a second striker has helped the club to finish second on the Italian Serie A table hitting the 81 goals Mark as a team. His dexterity has also taken the club to the finals of the Europa League which they are very much likely to win.
In 83 games so far for Inter Milan, he has scored 30 goals and has made 8 assists. He has also helped his strike partner at the Italian club Romelu Lukaku to score 33 goals in 55 games.
- Roberto Firmino
Roberto Firmino is one of the quiet performers in world football. He is among those footballers who are doing so much but hardly make the headlines. To quantify how much he does for Liverpool football club, check the goals returns of his strike partners, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
If the 28-year-old Brazilian forward is not scoring, he is giving the assists and if he is not creating the opportunity for his strike partners to score, he is doing the dirty work near the opponent’s eighteen-yard box.
No wonder since he joined Liverpool in 2015, he has never fallen off the pecking order of the manager of the club Jurgen Klopp. So far at Liverpool, he has scored 78 goals and has made 60 assists in 244 appearances.
- Paulo Dybala
At Juventus, every position is occupied by a household name in the game of football, still, Paulo Dybala who joined the club from Palermo in 2015 has found a way to remain an integral part of the squad.
His role as a second striker has been so important that a player as great as Cristiano Ronaldo will have him to thank for what he brings to the table whenever he is in action for Juventus.
Dybala has been so good for Juventus that he has a hand in almost all the goals Ronaldo has been scoring for Juventus since he joined the club in 2018. He is not also left out in the scorer’s chart as the 26-year-old Argentina forward has scored a total number of 95 goals and has made 38 assists in 228 games.
- Lionel Messi
Arguably, Lionel Messi is the greatest footballer of all time and functions perfectly in any role he decides to play for Barcelona since he joined the Spanish club when he was still a teenager. The versatility of the 33-year-old Argentina international has won him everything in club football.
Since 2004 when he gained promotion to the senior team of Barcelona, he proved to be on a different lane from other players. He has all the embodiment of a second striker just like how he has all the embodiment of other departments on a football pitch except the goalkeeping position and the defense.
The fact that he has won a record 6 Ballon d’Or is a prove that Messi is not just a regular player but a very special gift to the game of football.
So far in his illustrious career in Barcelona, the Argentine football icon has scored 634 goals and has made 285 assists in 731 games.