Sergio Agüero’s outstanding hat-trick at the weekend propelled him to joint 10th overall in the top goal scorers of Premier League history. His performance prompted Pep Guardiola to call him ‘one of the best strikers in the world.’ But is the diminutive Argentine striker the best goal scorer in Premier League history?
Of the Premier League goal scorers who appear in the all-time top 10, Agüero holds the best strike rate at 0.70 goals per game. Just one of two foreign players to make the list, Agüero is now 29 goals away from matching Thierry Henry’s (5th overall) Premier League total of 175. The Frenchman’s strike rate falls narrowly behind the Manchester City forward at 0.68.
The third best strike rate currently belongs to the all-time leading Premier League goal scorer Alan Shearer, who managed 260 goals in 441 games for a strike rate of 0.59. The former England captain was full of compliments in commenting on Agüero’s recent exploits. “The best foreign player to play in the Premier League. A great centre-forward with no weaknesses,” Shearer said.
Of those featured on the top goal scorer’s list, Wayne Rooney (3rd), Frank Lampard (4th), and Teddy Sheringham (9th) also appear in the top 10 for all-time Premier League assists. Lampard can claim to be the only midfielder amongst the top 10 goal scorers, whilst Rooney and Sheringham spent much of their playing career in withdrawn attacking positions, playing off another striker. Playing further away from goal, but still amassing the output of a penalty box striker blurs the lines of the best goal scorers.
It should also be noted that players like Jermain Defoe and Les Ferdinand played for less successful teams, who invariably created less opportunities to score goals compared to the other players who feature on the all-time Premier League top goal scorers list.
Additionally, Shearer scored 56 goals from the penalty spot compared to Andy Cole’s one. This somewhat skews the statistics of the best goal scorers, although penalties need to be scored for them to count, and players that are inconsistent from the spot will ultimately be replaced. Therefore, whilst it should be factored into the overall discussion, scoring penalties should be seen as adding a string to a goal scorers bow. To date, Agüero has currently converted 22 of his 26 penalties in the Premier League.
Another key factor in assessing the best goal scorers are the high-leverage moments of when goals are scored. The big moments for goal scorers often arrive in cup finals or in international tournaments in the latter stages. Delivering on the biggest stage often defines a goal scorer. Last year Romelu Lukaku was tagged by several pundits as a flat-track bully for example, whilst Didier Drogba will be remembered for his nine cup final goals. In terms of the Premier League, no striker can claim a greater high-leverage moment than Agüero’s 2012 title-winning goal against QPR in the fourth minute of injury time.
The 30-year-old PUMA One striker will again be one of the leading contenders for the Golden Boot trophy, which he won in the 2014/15 campaign, as long as he can stay fit.
It is also difficult to assess or compare players’ careers until they are completed. But there can be no doubt that Agüero is one of best finishers the Premier League has seen. With the array of chances Manchester City are creating, you can be sure that he is in line to have another tremendous goal scoring season.