We all wonder how they do it. Those players who just seem to be there for every tap-in. It seems so easy, but there are so few players that really succeed as a pure goalscorer. 

Just 10 years ago there were plenty to be seen at the top level. The most prolific examples being Ruud van Nistelrooy, who in his time at Manchester United never scored a single goal from outside the box, and Michael Owen, whose one-on-one success rate was exceptional.

If we go further back in time we see even more examples: Gary Linekar, Robbie Fowler, Filippo Inzaghi, Romario and Gabriel Batistuta. All of these players were fantastic footballers in their own right but possessed a prevailing ability to turn up in the right place in the right time and pass the ball into the back of the net.

The question now is where these types of players have gone. Now, don't get me wrong, there are still world-class poachers in the game today. But as I see it, they are disappearing from the top level of football.

Javier Hernandez is a commonly used example of a modern-day poacher who has been squeezed out of the game. Manchester United have continued to favour Danny Welbeck, who excels in hold up and set-up play, as their premier youngster. 

I'm sure many people are thinking 'why just have a goalscorer when you have players like Messi or Ronaldo or Van Persie who offer that and much more?'. 

My argument is that these are very exceptional cases. Teams that don't have the very best strikers in the world, however, tend to ignore the out and out goalscorers.

Arsenal, for example. Since Van Persie has left, they haven't managed to find a striker who will consistently come up with the goods. Chelsea and Liverpool as well.

All three teams have opted for buying more technically gifted strikers, Giroud, Ba and Sturridge respectively, who don't excel in being in the right place at the right time but are world class in other respects. It hasn't brought them the goals they've needed to be more successful in  competitive football. 

Top clubs appear to be scared of gambling on out-and-out goalscorers because they fear that if their one trait doesn't come off, then they are ineffective. However, it is a bit of a vicious cycle for those players that do pride themselves on pure goalscoring prowess. 

Jordan Rhodes, Gary Hooper and Ricky Lambert, who all play at perhaps second or third class clubs, must be frustrated that no big clubs will take a punt on them. Logically, all of these players are going to score more goals playing alongside better quality players against sides that are inferior, than they are playing for Southampton, Celtic or Blackburn.

It might seem ridiculous to say that Arsenal should sign someone like Lambert or Hooper or Rhodes but pure goalscoring is something that's based more on the ability of team-mates than the ability of opposition.  

Rhodes and Hooper are slightly more risky because they play at a lower standard of football and their statistics are made up from playing against weaker sides. But I think if a team like Arsenal gave one of them a go they might be surprised at the results.

When these strikers are team-mates with superb playmakers like Wilshere and Santi Cazorla they're going to be presented with masses of chances that they are used to slotting away with one eye closed. At the end of the day, if it didn't pay off, the costs would be very limited.

Ultimately when nothing else is working, big, under-achieving clubs might be served well to take a punt on poachers to get them the goals that they need. All three examples that I've used (Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea) have an excellent hub of playmaking ability. What they lack is the man to be in the right place at the right time and slot the ball home. 

The more that big clubs refuse to gamble on poachers, the more they will disappear from the game. Like it or loathe it, poaching effectively takes tremendous skill, and big clubs should be at least willing to give them a shot.

 

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