From Van Persie to Messi, Rooney to Ronaldo: Europe's top marksmen go head-to-head

By Alex Young

Football can be a cruel mistress. Conceding last-minute winners, missing the vital penalty in the shootout or even being sent off to put the pressure on the rest of your team-mates.

So, with the release of┬áCall Of Duty Black Ops II – a time-spanning, generation-spanning narrative video game which introduces players to an insidious villain named Raul Menendez who hijacks the US military infrastructure to further his own agenda – has decided to get a little bit more mean and compare and contrast a selection of the sport’s most potent strikers to see just who is the best.

The forwards have been split into pairs depending on their roles, duties or similar leagues. So, without any further ado, let the games begin!

Alongwith Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani is currently one of the most desired strikers in the world due to his penchant to score on an almost goal-to-game basis.

Indeed, the Napoli striker boasts 14 goals in as many appearances so far this season which is in stark contrast with Manchester City’s deeper-lying attacker, who boasts just four in 12 games.

The pair’s international records are fairly similar with Aguero managing just shy of one goal every two games, while the Uruguay international can boast an average of over one in two.

Looking at those stats, and each player’s overall game, Cavani takes the crown on this occasion.

Radamel Falcao is, arguably, the most sought after striker in the world at the moment following his goal-laden 18 months with Atletico Madrid, which has seen the talisman score 49 goals in 60 games.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been the shining light in an otherwise inconsisent season for Paris Saint-Germain, netting 10 goals in nine Ligue 1 appearances to lead the league’s goalscoring charts.

Whereas the Sweden international has the most prolific scoring record on international level, Falcao is currently more reliable and, statisically, has been over the course of his entire career so the Atletico man comes out on top.

However, looking at each player’s overall game, Ibrahimovic comes out on top. The lanky striker has the better strength up top to bring other players into the game, will his flair and heading ability is also superior.

In the eyes of many, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two best players in the world. Their goalscoring feats are superior than any other player over the past few seasons, with Messi breaking Pele’s record of 75 goals in a calendar year on Sunday.

Ronaldo has netted a stunning 165 goals in 161 appearances for Real Madrid since joining three-and-a-half years ago, a record only bettered by Messi with his 193 goals in 185 games over the same period.

The Argentine also has the better goal-to-game ratio on the international scene and over the course of their careers so far. It’s a tight battle, but the reigning Fifa World Player of the Year edges to the win in this department.

However, looking at their overall game, Ronaldo’s superior heading ability, strength outweighs possible slight weaknesses in passing and work rate. It is extremely close overall but the Argentine clings onto the crown.

Following Manchester United’s convincing 2-1 win over Arsenal last month, Robin van Persie described his and Wayne Rooney’s roles as “nine and a half” due to the pair continually interchanging the more advanced position during a game.

Even so, there is no denying who is reaping the most rewards in the partnership; Van Persie.

The Netherlands international has plundered 11 goals in 14 appearances so far this season, nearly four times as many as Rooney in only three extra games.

Looking further afield, Van Persie has a better goals-per-game ratio on international level and over the course of his entire career.

Both players boast similar attributes in terms of their overall game, but the Dutch hitman again trumps Rooney in that department. An easy winner all round.

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