Top striker duos of the 21st century

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 17. kolovoza 2020.

Top striker duos of the 21st century

With the domination of the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3 formations in the past decade, a precious aspect of the game was lost - striker duos. A feature with which teams were categorised and appreciated back in the days. The phenomenon experienced somewhat of a resurgence as Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez kicked off in their first season together splendidly. Making us want to revisit the top striker duos the 21st century.

In the finished Serie A season, Rom and Lautaro scored 37 goals together, 23 of which was put in by the Belgian. Across all competitions, the Argentinian and his Inter teammate scored 50 goals. While the two gathered only three assists to each other over the season, their partnership and friendship were one of the brighter aspects of Inter's season. Although, they are far off these best strikers of the century and have a lot of catching up to do.

We take a look at the best striker duos since the turn of the century and by that, we do mean forwards and secondary strikers which operated somewhat independently. No trios, no wingers who combined with strikers, just the two lone wolfs up front.

Top striker partnerships of the 21st century

Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur)

In both of his full seasons at Tottenham, Dimitar Berbatov scored 23 goals across all club competitions. Those 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 seasons saw Robbie Keane score 22 and then 23 himself. To this day, Keane and Berba are often asked about each other and the special connection they had on the field, established rather quickly.

In all of his European seasons, the Irishman only scored more than 17 goals per year only when he played with the Bulgarian. A man who made his teammates better throughout his career.

Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Chelsea)

It's shamefully forgotten that Chelsea had an already impressive and most of all likeable team before Roman Abromovich bought the club. At the start of the century, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink boasted not only the best names in the game but also impressive goalscoring partnership.

They arrived at the club at the same time in the 2000/2001 season which saw the Icelandic man score 13 overall, and JFH 26! But their next season was even better and saw the Dutchman score 29 times, 23 of which in the Premier League. While Eidur notched up 23 of his trademark precise goals, 14 of which came in the PL. The next two seasons saw them combine for 55 goals.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)

It's incredible that it took Liverpool 30 years to break the suffering and win the Premiership as in the 2013/2014 they had one of the best partnerships in Europe. Luis Suarez won the Golden Boot with 31 league goals before his move to Barcelona, while - as weird as it sounds in 2020 - Daniel Sturridge contributed with 21 goals.

Although it didn't last, their top season remains one of the best striker duo displays in recent memory. Only one other England's top league strike partnership - Newcastle's Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley - are better than them, scoring 55 together in 1993/1994.

Grafite and Edin Dzeko (Wolfsburg)

Yes, there was a time when Bayern Munich wasn't ruling with sovereignty over German football as it was under the feet of a Brazilian and a Bosnian. Seven years between them, and in their best season, 2008/2009, an insane haul of 71 goals! Whopping 54 came in the Bundesliga with Grafite getting 28. Winning the title in style with them.

The next season saw Dzeko lead the charge as the veteran Brazilian fell back a bit and got "only" 18 goals overall, while Edin delivered 29. There's no doubt that if a player from a bigger nation kept producing the numbers Bosnia's Dzeko has been across top five leagues, he would get far louder appreciation than current Roma striker.

Wayne Rooney and Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United)

It's hard not to include Wayne Rooney on this list as the Englishman had such a long career of being a prime team player. While he scored more goals in combination with Cristiano Ronaldo, CR7 was a winger at the time, as the number suggests. But a young Rooney had a proper 9 partner in crime - Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The Dutchman and Wazza had their best tally in the 2005/2006 season with 43 goals between them, 37 of which was in the PL. RVN and Rooney remain a prime example of what a striker partnership could look like - a workhorse with grit, determination and stamina playing alongside a born goalscorer.

Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka (Chelsea)

While the two former Chelsea forwards didn't have the best single goalscoring together, topping in with 52 in the 2009/2010 season because Didier Drogba did more of the heavy lifting with 37 goals. But the duo complimented each other so well that Nicolas Anelka won the Premier League top scorer award in 2009, while Drogba did so in 2010.

In the seasons both of them were at the club - even though Anelka came in mid-season, the two scored 151 goals. Once again, it was Drogba who was the primary threat to goalkeepers with 92 goals in the equation.

Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet (Juventus)

The duo that reigned the longest out of all on this list. Even though Alessandro Del Piero started his career way back in the '90s. Since David Trezeguet arrived to Turin, they had several notable seasons together, first of them their second year working in line. The French striker scored 32, 24 in Serie A, while Del Piero added with 23 goals, 15 of which in the league.

The duo combined for 49 overall in 2005/2006. When Juve returned to Serie A after a year in the lower rank it was ADP who outscored his younger teammate by getting 24 goals, 21 in the league becoming the Capocannoniere. A feat which Trezequet achieved in 2002. Their partnership will also be remembered by sticking together when the team was kicked out in Serie B, as many duos would dissolve and go their separate ways in that situation.

Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid)

Atletico Madrid is the club with a particular reputation for sniffing out top strikers and in 2006 they lined up a young Argentinian Sergio Kun Aguero to replace their kid Fernando Torres. The youngster awaited Diego Forlan the season after and started learning from the Uruguayan.

The South American duo immediately clicked and scored 50 goals together. Their next season, the 2008/2009 saw an increase as they combined for 56, with Forlan scoring 35 and winning the European Golden Boot. In their final two seasons together before leaving Madrid, they scored 84.

Fernando Torres and David Villa (Spain)

When we're talking about best striker duos we usually think of the club partnerships as those lethal tandems we love need time in practice to develop a full understanding. Something which is very hard to achieve when you're playing with your teammate every third month.

Yet David Villa and Fernando Torres made it work so brilliantly, that no one can deny them. Even though international stats are usually weaker even for the best of players, no one can deny the greatness of the Villa-Torres punch La Furia had since 2004. They both pretty much ended their international careers in 2014 and have collected two European championships in 2008 and 2012, as well as the 2010 World Cup.

Can Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku join the pantheon of these top striker duos of the 21st century? 


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