Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG and Sweden) 34 games, 30 goals***
Winner of nine domestic titles in ten years across four leagues and six clubs, Zlatan just keeps on delivering. Everyone assumed that this season would be a cakewalk for PSG and yet without the influence of their Swedish striker the title challenge would have been a far fetched idea. In breaking the 30 goal barrier in the league he became the first man to do so in France since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1989-90 and finished a wonderful season on a high.
Edinson Cavani (Napoli and Uruguay) 35 games, 29 goals***
Cavani has shown signs that he merits a place among the top echelon of strikers for a number of years but this season he extinguished all doubts. Capable of scoring in every conceivable way he is truly the complete centre-forward. Talks already appear to be in progress to take the Uruguayan to Manchester City but he surely will not be short of suitors after an incredible campaign for Napoli.
Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund and Poland) 31 games, 24 goals ***
Arguably the most rounded centre-forward in the world, Lewandowski is someone who seemingly has the lot. A clinical finisher, great in the air and proficient at linking with the midfield there are precious few strikers who could succeed in so many systems. Although he shone last season this year he took his game to a new level and ten goals in the Champions League, four of which came in the destruction of Real Madrid in the semi-finals, showed that he can cope against the very best.
Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid and Colombia) 34 games, 28 goals ***
The decision of Falcao to depart Madrid in pursuit of riches offered by Monaco has led some to brand him a mercenary. However, given the ambition shown by the club from the principality so far the Colombian striker might yet be improving his chances of silverware. The second half of the season saw him slightly subdued in comparison with the wonderful way he began the year, but overall it still marked another remarkable term on the goalscoring front.
Robin van Persie (Manchester United and Netherlands) 38 games, 26 goals ***
Even at £24m Robin van Persie was the signing of the season in the Premier League. Nobody doubted his ability at Arsenal or that he would succeed at Old Trafford but the speed with which he settled and the importance of the goals he scored were paramount in ensuring that the title was secured with the minimum of fuss. Such was the comprehensive nature of his adaptation to life in Manchester that few Reds fans are overly concerned about the loss of Wayne Rooney, something that would have been almost inconceivable 12 months ago.
Stefan Kiessling (Bayer Leverkusen and Germany) 34 games, 25 goals **
While Joachim Low may not be a great admirer of the Leverkusen striker there is no doubt that he has enjoyed a fantastic season. Tall, strong and athletic the centre-forward was the focal point of an excellent side and his ability to lead the line on his own makes him a highly prized commodity. His style of play may not be the most fashionable in the modern game but there is no denying he is highly effective.
Antonio di Natale (Udinese and Italy) 33 games, 23 goals **
It has become a cliché now to talk about the evergreen nature of Di Natale. For the fourth season in a row he has topped the 20 goal mark and he was again centre stage as Udinese staged a miraculous revival after Christmas. The veteran has now targeted 200 career Serie A goals requiring another 24 to be scored. In this sort of form he could achieve that by the end of next season.
Wilfried Bony (Vitesse Arnhem and Ivory Coast) *
The player of the season in the Eredivisie, Bony enjoyed a phenomenal year for Vitesse. Dutch defences were simply unable to cope with the combination of power and technique that the Ivorian offers and his combination with Marco Van Ginkel brought out the best of both players. Already well travelled at the age of 24 his physicality and height would look to be tailor made for the Premier League and may well draw interest this summer.
Jackson Martinez (Porto and Colombia) 27 games, 26 goals *
The Porto scouting network just keeps unearthing top level players. With the departure of Hulk in the summer to Zenit, the Dragao turned to Colombian hitman Martinez and he proved a resounding success. With 26 goals in just 27 games he hit the ground running and ended the season as the top scorer in Portugal. Given Porto’s history of lucrative sales it may not be long before he’s on the move again.
Burak Yilmaz (Galatasaray and Turkey) 30 games 24 goals*
Despite the arrival of Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba there was no doubt who the star of Galatasaray’s season was. While he didn’t quite match his goal haul from his final season at Trabzonspor, Yilmaz ability to perform in both the Turkish league and the Champions League meant his value increased hugely during the season. A powerful bull of a striker, his combination with Drogba is a daunting prospect for any defender in Europe next year.
Graziano Pelle (Feyenoord and Italy) 29 games, 27 goals *
Until this year Pelle was a striker who had long shown promise but rarely scored the numbers of goals that his talent hinted at. After a disappointing spell at Parma he finally found his shooting boots in the Eredivisie and looked unstoppable for Feyenoord. Admittedly, performances in the Dutch league can be misleading with the likes of Alfonso Alves unable to replicate his exploits in tougher surroundings. A permanent move to the Rotterdam giants should give the Italian the opportunity to continue his ongoing renaissance.
Roberto Soldado (Valencia and Spain) 35 games, 24 goals*
Where now for Soldado? The financial difficulties faced by Valencia have forced them to sell their best players in each of the last few seasons and now, having missed out on Champions League football, the impetus is stronger than ever. There is no question about his quality, having scored consistently throughout his time at the Mestalla and demonstrated his ability as a first rate finisher.
Christian Benteke (Aston Villa and Belgium) 34 games, 19 goals *
When Christian Benteke arrived at Villa Park even those who had watched him play in Belgium widely felt that his £10m price tag looked steep. By the end of the year it had proved a bargain with the powerful striker one of the few bright spots in a wretched Villa season. Without the goals of the Belgian international the relegation battle would surely have been significantly tighter and he now looks an obvious target for the likes of Arsenal and Spurs.
Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan and Italy) 37 games, 16 goals *
Unstoppable until January, the arrival of Mario Balotelli forced a major change in the role played by El-Shaarawy. Shunted out onto the flanks he was nowhere near as potent as he had been when the season started, but his excellent pace and fine dribbling meant that he remains a threat. Given Milan’s history for selling their best players in recent seasons, talks of a potential move may not be too wide of the mark.
Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla and Spain) 36 games, 25 goals *
With all four goals in a thrilling 4-3 win on the last day of the season Negredo singlehandedly cost Valencia their Champions League place. A classic striker in the English style it’s no wonder that West Ham looked at the Sevilla star as a potential replacement (and major upgrade) on Andy Carroll. His power and nose for goal made him the highest scoring Spaniard in La Liga this season and he should surely be able to pick a club with rather loftier ambitions.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (St Etienne and Gabon) 37 games 19 goals *
Only 23 but the Gabon forward has already announced his huge talent to the world. An excellent season for St Etienne saw the youngster play mainly through the centre but also on the right and this versatility, while maintaining the level of performance, bodes well for the future. Tall, quick and inventive his chance creation was almost as impressive as his finishing. An excellent campaign that hints there is more to come.
Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich and Croatia) 24 games, 15 goals *
Not the most graceful or elegant of players Mandzukic was an essential factor in Bayern’s success this season. To take the place of a striker who scored 28 goals in the league last season takes some doing but such was the Croatian’s impact few felt that Mario Gomez was missed by the end of the year. The workrate and energy displayed by Mandzukic as well as his ability in the air meant that his lower goal tally was a price worth paying for a more effective team.
Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao and Spain)
Jeremie Aliadiere (Lorient and France)
Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar and USA)
Carlos Bacca (Club Brugges and Colombia)
Mario Balotelli (AC Milan and Italy)
Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham and Bulgaria)
Oscar Cardozo (Benfica and Paraguay)
Dario Cvitanich (Nice and Argentina)
Rafik Djebbour (Olympiakos and Algeria)
Alfred Finnbogason (Heerenveen and Iceland)
Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon and France)
Phillip Hosiner (Austria Vienna and Austria)
Vedad Ibisevic (Stuttgart and Bosnia)
Miroslav Klose (Lazio and Germany)
Rickie Lambert (Southampton and England)
Romelu Lukaku (West Bromwich Albion and Belgium)
Pablo Osvaldo (Roma and Italy)