The first footballer's name that I heard of was Ronaldo: a lethal striker and a real poacher, who left his markers for dead, dribbled past the opposition and scored some classics. 

But not every goal of his was a treat to watch; most of his goals were plainly ordinary when he got into the box and just took his chance with aplomb.

Christian Vieri, Filippo Inzaghi, Michael Owen, Patrick Kluivert and Davor Suker were all top strikers playing for top teams, but rarely helped in the hold-up play or tracked back to support their defence, yet they were still paid insane amounts at that time. 

Ronaldo and Vieri were both world-record signings.

In today's world, a pure number nine is a dying breed - a thing off the past. Today a striker doesn't only need to be a prolific goalscorer - Inzaghi scored 70 goals in the Champions League, Ronaldo scored 15 in World Cup finals - a player needs to be technically gifted, he needs to play in a variety of positions. 

Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola can be considered the reason behind giving birth to this idea of a 'false nine', a position in which Lionel Messi has obliterated almost every goalscoring record, but Messi was always a prolific scorer even when played out wide. 

Maybe he didn't score 90 goals a season, but neither did Ronaldo or Ruus Van Nistelrooy or Miroslav Klose and they were all world class.

Inzaghi never scored more than 30 goals a season and Van Nistelrooy - probably the best poacher of the last decade - scored 38 goals in a season when he played for PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie. 

Messi scored 38 goals when he was playing out wide and Samuel Eto'o played through the middle.

If you compare the record of Ronaldo Luis Nazario del Lima you might be stumped thinking that his goalscoring exploits that earned him a rare standing ovation at Old Trafford, helped him win three times Fifa Player of the Year awards and made him the highest ever goalscorer in the history of the World Cup. Yet he still doesn't better Messi's phenomenal goalscoring exploits.

Does this make Messi better than the Brazilian Ronaldo? 

The answer is simple: while Ronaldo is a certified Legend, Messi's case is still being argued. Ronaldo produced his best when it mattered most, winning the Golden Ball and Golden Boot in the World Cup on two different occasions. 

Messi, on the other hand, failed to replicate his club form for his country at the 2010 World Cup, failing to score a single goal. 

This brings me to my main topic: the strikers. There are a lot of people who have argued  that Messi won't ever be a legend until he wins a World Cup - true, but if you look at his performances in the World Cup, you will realise Diego Maradona played him as a playmaker and not a striker, a position he wasn't comfortable in. 

Messi is a phenomenal player, perhaps one of the best the world has ever seen. Ever since he has shifted to a more central role for Argentina he has scored a hat-trick against arch-rivals Brazil, but when played out of position he seems ordinary.

The crux of the matter is that when Guardiola played Messi as a striker he knew Messi was a gifted striker, blessed with exceptional pace, vision and finishing. He was not a midfielder. He was a striker who would have been as brilliant in the box as he was out wide, but not in the centre. 

It doesn't mean that strikers are dead.

When teams like Spain and Germany play with Cesc Fabregas or Mario Gotze as strikers, believing that a poacher is no longer needed, or when teams play a player upfront just for his link-up play or his reading of the game, they fail to realise that replicating a strategy might help at times but eventually a painter can't operate in an operation theatre no matter how good a painter he is.

By the same token, playing Gotze upfront when you have one of the best poachers in your team might help you win against Kazakhstan, but when a team gives you just one or two chances you always need a lethal striker and that's when a player like Mario Gomes will always be missed.


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