Is the striker a dying breed?
Published: 25.08.12 / Written by: David Gold
Robin van Persieís move to Manchester United is an exception that proves the rule about one of the features of this summerís transfer market.
That is the lack of forwards moving clubs. In fact, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovicís transfer to Paris St Germain, Olivier Giroudís move to Arsenal and Fernando Llorenteís likely switch to Juventus, these are the only major forwards moving clubs this summer.
United are struggling to offload Dimitar Berbatov. Arsenal would rather get rid of Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner. Manchester City are desperate to see the back of Roque Santa Cruz, possibly Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko too, for various reasons. They only got rid of Emmanuel Adebayor after agreeing to pay the difference in his wages at City and Spurs. Liverpool want rid of Andy Carroll.
Tottenham are looking for a forward, Chelsea are as well, whilst Arsenal may now be back in the market for a forward.
So what explains the difficulty of shifting strikers? Probably because they are a dying breed. The striker is less useful than he once was. Gone, seemingly, are the days of a Ruud van Nistelrooy, Michael Owen or Fillipo Inzaghi, whose sole purpose was to score goals. Now, you need an Ibrahimovic, a van Persie or Giroud, players who are able to head, pass, create and score. The modern centre forward needs to be able to do everything. And be more like a midfielder.
Of course Spain typify this trend better than most, with their strikerless formation at the European Championships they recently won. Paris St Germain found a system last year which did not involve a forward but worked well.
But the ramifications for the forward are clear. Football is increasingly collective, and becoming ever more battled out between smaller, technical players who can do everything. In such a system the room for specialists who can do only one thing is limited. The teams of the future will probably include a host of players with largely the same skillsets. Faster players will probably always play out wide, stronger players in the centre, but the balance and mix of skills each player must have will be more diverse.
That will necessitate the reduction of strikers and the declining influence they will have in the future of the game. So for the likes of a Nicklas Bentdner or Roque Santa Cruz, their inability to get playing time may well be the result of this trend and the tendency for clubs to want fewer and fewer strikers. Teams from Arsenal and Tottenham here, to AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid see a need for no more than two or three centre forwards. That is because of this trend and it does not look like ending anytime soon.
So it may be a while until the likes of Carroll, Chamakh or Berbatov find a new club.