Twas the night before Christmas, and all through 90min HQ, not a creature is resting because we have the final category of Welcome to World Class 2021 to…do.
It’s been one helluva fortnight, with our top five players in each positions revealed through the #W2WC metric, fan vote or the guys on our YouTube channel. It won’t shock you to hear there has been plenty of debate, awful chat, conjecture and Twitter spats, but we have reached the last day of this year’s edition (although there will be some freebies coming your way on Christmas Day).
It’s time for the top five strikers, and if there’s one main takeaway here it’s that age is just a number.
Before we get to that, though, here’s a quick reminder of how it all works.
You can read all about it in more depth here.
As has been the case throughout, we want you to follow along, place your votes (you can do so below) and have your say one last time.
Fourth and fifth in our list will be decided by a fan vote, but for now, let’s get into it.
All statistics are provided by StatsPerform over the period of January 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021 (inclusive of domestic and continental cup competitions).
Games played: 45
Minutes played: 3827
Chances created: 68
Shots (on target): 171 (77)
Shot conversion rate: 19.9%
Minutes per goal: 113
*Insert pseudo-intellectual line about Karim Benzema emerging from Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow*
We’ve reached the point now where Benzema’s Real Madrid career transcends Cristiano Ronaldo (how’s that for pseudo-intellectualism?). The Frenchman is now on his own plane at the Santiago Bernabeu, and despite several opportunities to jump ship he has stayed loyal to Los Blancos’ cause.
Ageing like a fine French wine in football terms, his form in 2021 has been remarkable, with his dead-eyed finishing ability a joy to behold throughout. Now 34, he already has 20 goals this season at the time of writing. Scary.
Games played: 46
Minutes played: 3792
Chances created: 46
Shots (on target): 199 (82)
Shot conversion rate: 15.1%
Minutes per goal: 126
Speaking of Ronaldo…This man’s inclusion will perhaps raise a few eyebrows, and although 2021 was certainly not his most memorable year in terms of trophies as Juventus relinquished their Serie A crown for the first time in a decade, he still excelled on a personal level and smashed each of our metrics.
This was the year that saw CR7 complete his transition into an out-and-out, goal-poaching striker – a seamless adaptation after a sensational career as a flying winger. He may not necessarily be as explosive to watch, but he has done what he needed to do to survive at the top of the game, and the numbers speak for themselves.
Another 30+ goal season remains a distinct possibility following his sensational return to Man Utd, as his relentless pursuit of individual accolades goes on. He is not a man you would bet against.
Games played: 42
Minutes played: 3544
Chances created: 68
Shots (on target): 185 (98)
Shot conversion rate: 28.7%
Minutes per goal: 67
Fact: This is the second year in a row that Robert Lewandowksi has been the highest-scoring player across all the metrics out of all of those included in Welcome to World Class.
If it wasn’t for the late-blooming Benzema, we would almost certainly look back on Lewandowksi as the undisputed best striker of his generation. And in all honesty, while Madridistas may have something to say about it, we probably still will.
It seemed improbable that the superlative Pole would come anywhere close to matching his statistics from last year, but he’s done exactly that – in fewer matches too. In short, he is the epitome of the ideal modern-day centre-forward; he has everything.
Lewandowski’s exploits with Bayern Munich may not have been recognised with a Ballon d’Or, but if it’s any consolation he is comfortably our winner here.
Now the eagle-eyed among you will notice that TWO spots require filling – we’ve had our say on the top three striker rankings, so now we want you to have yours.
We simply want to know ‘Which striker would you add to the World Class list?
Get involved in the tweet below and pick carefully – you only get one vote but the top two will make it in!
We’re taking your votes until 4pm (GMT) this afternoon so vote above and head over to our global Twitter page each day to play your part. Have your say and influence the rankings.
The winner of the poll will be announced this evening. And keep your eyes out on our YouTube channel at 11am for the guys in studio to have their discussion on the five world class strikers in the game today.