BEST YOUNG FOOTBALL STRIKERS
Patson Daka Myron Boadu Brenner Alexander Isak Victor Osimhen Gianluca Scamacca
Want to get to know more about some of the best up-and-coming strikers in world football? We’ve got you covered.
Here, we have compiled mini reports on just a few of our favourites, giving you some compact insights into their style of play as well as a bit of background on their careers so far. We also have some provided links out to where you can read more about them on our website, as well as in various Scouted Football Handbooks in which they have been featured.
You can find our best and most detailed reports in the Scouted Football Handbook, our quarterly magazine in which we profile 25 of the world’s best up-and-coming talents, with additional features and interviews also included.
We’ll keep this page updated monthly with new reports, as well as continuing to update existing profiles.
Have a player that you want us to profile? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Matías Arezo is well-known to many already because of ability on Football Manager, but he is also an exciting prospect in real world football. He made his River Plate debut as a 16-year-old and has accumulated 62 appearances in the last two years, scoring 21 goals in the process. He is nicknamed ‘El Bufalo’ in Uruguay.
STYLE OF PLAY
Arezo’s build subscribes to the stereotypical South American striker – short and stocky with significant core strength. He utilises his body to good effect to pin and disrupt defenders when rumbling around the attacking third. He has a good burst and above-average speed but he is not especially quick; he is more steady and functional. But he is sharp enough off the mark to create separations at South American level.
He makes up for a lack of high-level athleticism with clever movement into depth and within the box. He angles his body intelligently to optimise his runs and is adept at attacking blindsides of defenders. He knows how and when to adjust his position to find space in the box. Plus, he is good at moving off the defensive line to create separations, tracks play well, and has good anticipation and instinct.
As a pure ball-striker, he generates excellent power off both feet with little back-lift. This makes him a dangerous snap shooter in most situations, but especially in isolation – he has decent close control and agility to square up opponents, keep them guessing, and he is then able to shift the ball quickly off either side to shoot. Arezo is explosive in his execution and difficult to defend. His shot selection in general is extremely erratic though, and a key weakness in his game. He shoots from any angle and distance, regardless of situation; he shoots from the halfway line almost once a game.
His link play is neither particularly bad nor good but needs to improve touch and accuracy, especially at higher levels. He is decent at dropping off to receive/relay possession and can create shots with direct passes/crosses, especially in transition. He has the physicality to compete in contact and act as a somewhat of a reference point. Ultimately, he works best with a partner, like Lautaro Martínez.
Arezo needs to step up to a higher level as soon as possible, be it within South America (Argentina, Brazil) or to a mid-level league in Europe with proven recover of player development (Portugal).Hhe can become a regular scorer in a top-five league, although his athleticism is likely not good enough to reach Champions League level.
Last Updated: 14.04.2021 | Llew Davies
Myron Boadu has been in the public eye for almost half a decade. He was scoring goals in third-tier Dutch football as a 16-year-old in 2017, then made the step up to the first-team squad later that year. An ACL rupture and fractured ankle meant last season was his first in senior football – and he didn’t disappoint. Boadu contributed to 30 goals in 36 nineties across all competitions, made his senior Netherlands debut, and announced himself as one of the best young strikers in Europe.
With his recent arrival at AS Monaco, Boadu will try to continue what has been a miraculous return from what was a truly horrific injury.
STYLE OF PLAY
Even after suffering two serious injuries before his 18th birthday, Myron Boadu remains a high-impact athlete. He his explosive over short distances, able to quickly create immediate separations from defenders. He also has excellent top-end speed which very few opponents can match. He his nimble enough in smaller spaces too and possesses a mature, athletic frame.
His movement in general is excellent, and it is the primary reason why he has scored 0.65 goals per 90 across the last two Eredivisie seasons. He is a constant threat against mid/high block defences: he typically positions himself on the last man and shows impressive awareness in his positioning and posture, angling his body intelligently to optimise his runs into depth. His acceleration and speed also make him very difficult to contain in these situations.
Slot’s AZ Alkmaar were good at sustaining pressure and creating dangerous situations within the box – Boadu was key to that ability. He comes alive in the box and ranks as one of the best young strikers around in terms of shot quality. He’s always alert, tracks the ball well and adjusts his position intelligently. He moves into areas (between bodies, pulling off toward the penalty spot) that are difficult to defend. When a ball comes in, his explosive burst enables him to create separation from any marker and dart across defenders to meet the cross. His movements/positioning seem very natural and instinctive.
His link play is adequate at Eredivisie level but has some flaws. He shows decent awareness of when to drop deep to help build play, but his technique/timing can be erratic and inefficient. His passes to wider areas are not only obvious to read but are often difficult to control for the receiver.
Last Updated: 01.09.2021 | Llew Davies
2020 was a remarkable year of development for Brenner. After years of difficulty at senior level, despite the promise of his youth career – particularly after his performances at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup – the Brazilian became a fixture of São Paulo’s team this year with 14 goal involvements in the league.
However, as the club’s title chances waned, MLS newcomers FC Cincinnati pounced on the opportunity to sign the 21-year-old, bringing him to the United States to spearhead the league’s worst attack in the 2020 season and outlaying a club record $14 million fee in the process.
STYLE OF PLAY
Brenner is a really good penalty box striker. He gets into fabulous shot locations and averaged almost 0.2 xG per shot in the 2020/21 Brazilian Serie A.
He is comfortable in a range of attacking scenarios; playing off the shoulder, contesting aerially, shooting from outside the box, or timing runs into the penalty area to score. He only really struggles when trying to create his own shots as a dribbler.
Dribbling and chance creation are his two key drawbacks at this stage of his career. Instead of risking possession attempting to progress the play or create an opening, Brenner feels more comfortable playing the ball backwards or sideways in order to move into scoring positions himself.
While this undoubtedly makes him an efficient player, it also means he is slightly predictable at best, and slows down and kills attacking opportunities at worst. He will need to be more willing to take risks to maximise his effectiveness in Cincinnati’s attack, whose success will be primarily dedicated to counter-attacking.
Last Updated: 01.03.2021 | STEPHEN GANAVAS
Zambian international striker Patson Daka’s tale is one which is as heart-warming as it is remarkable. His break came one afternoon during his schooldays when national team selectors were holding trials on a field adjacent to Daka’s school. Then just a teenager, the future RB Salzburg man ran home, grabbed his boots and returned, only to convince the scouts of his talent inside 15 minutes.
Since then, he has been a direct beneficiary of Red Bull’s peerless scouting of Africa, and has made the jump to Europe excellently. His recent transfer to Leicester is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a ton of goals, and is a smart transfer for Leicester who are searching for a long-term successor to Jamie Vardy.
STYLE OF PLAY
Patson Daka scores goals, including the more improbably strikes that only his athleticism allows him to reach. The 22-year-old is brilliant at adjusting his body to get a clean contact on the ball, but also possesses tremendous acceleration with the ball at his feet.
His speed over the ground is phenomenal, making long, rangy strides with his six-foot frame to reach the penalty area, similar to how former teammate Erling Haaland did while at Salzburg.
Daka’s shotmap is a joy to behold, with very few opportunities taken from outside the 18-yard box, and a glut of converted opportunities from within 12 yards.
As of October 2020, Daka averaged a goal involvement every 79 minutes for Salzburg which is staggering considering he has featured in over 4,500 minutes for the club.
His finishing and explosiveness are the two characteristics of his game which are most striking, and the two marry up perfectly, rather than one hindering the other.
Daka’s speed off the mark allows him to arrive into goalscoring opportunities seconds before his nearest opponent, affording him the time and space to pick his spot. And in instances where he may not be allowed as much room or time on the ball, he can improvise and has done so consistently.
There are snags to his game; he is not the best in the air, and struggles to beat players in one-on-one duels but his goalscoring and that alone renders the lesser areas of his game much less important than if he were less clinical in front of goal – he is a pure striker.
Last Updated: 01.09.2021 | STEPHEN GANAVAS
Still a teenager, Adam Hložek is as physically ready to embark on a professional career as anyone could be at his age.
He became the youngest player to ever feature for the Czech senior national team, starting in a 3-1 victory over Slovakia, and has since become the leading scorer in the Czech first division in 2020/21, despite missing five months with a foot injury.
STYLE OF PLAY
Adam Hložek is a brute of a human being. He has the physical build and attacking skillset reminiscent of a young Zlatan Ibrahimović.
He is thick-set, around 6’1” and has a good burst of speed when given some space to gather speed.
He can play across the attack, but his skillset is definitely suited to him playing as a striker.
As a striker, he is a dynamic threat. He can win the ball in the air exceptionally well, heading for goal or trying to hold up play to get others involved. But he can also play off the last man’s shoulder and look for avenues in-behind the defence, or swing wide into the channels to open up space for others.
Adam Hložek has a myriad of finishes in his arsenal: curlers on the half-turn, dribbles past the goalkeeper into an open goal, flicked backheels, towering headers, long range thunderbolts; and he can do it all effectively on both sides of his body.
Last Updated: 30.05.2021 | STEPHEN GANAVAS
Like many teenage stars who burst onto the scene, Alexander Isak has been criticized for not fulfilling an unrealistic level of potential.
But the striker has impressed for Real Sociedad after initially struggling to establish himself at Borussia Dortmund.
He sits just below the top scorers in LaLiga and has been linked with several top clubs ahead of the upcoming summer window.
STYLE OF PLAY
Isak is comfortable on both feet and in the air, which means he can score a variety of goals based on many different situations.
The 21-year-old is tall and leggy but possesses good technique, showing quality in his link-up play and dribbling.
He also possesses impressive movement – his running in behind is intelligent, while he moves smartly in the box to escape defenders.
Isak struggles to impact himself against quick, physical defenders. He is still growing into his body for top level action.
The striker lacks intensity when defending – his tackle and interception numbers are low – although he can press when asked.
His goalscoring is streaky. Adding consistency to his game will improve his standing and performances.
Last Updated: 01.03.2021 | Phil Costa
Darwin Núñez burst onto the scene in the 2019/20 season, scoring 16 goals for UD Almería in his first and only season in Spain’s Segunda División. He moved to Spain from Peñarol in his native Uruguay, where he started his senior career.
Following his breakthrough season in Europe, Darwin moved to SL Benfica in a deal that cost over €20 million.
STYLE OF PLAY
Comparing anyone to Erling Braut Haaland is a disingenuous, but Darwin Núñez will remind you of the Norwegian freak a little bit – not least for the way they attack space. Like Haaland, Darwin is a tall striker with long limbs who possesses explosive athleticism. His acceleration and top-end speed is excellent and makes him an extremely dangerous attacker in transition and open space; when he gets going, he creates separations easily and is quicker than the vast majority of defenders. He also has the robustness to withstand contact and is able to bounce of challenges, even at high speed.
Darwin’s movement is intelligent too, not just athletic. He is good at attacking space off the shoulder, making the most of his speed to attack space, but is also adept at making short, sharp movements around the box which distract and occupy defenders, creating space for others. He scans often in these situations and adjusts his position accordingly to find pockets of space in and around the box.
An upside of Darwin’s intelligent movement and general instinct is that he is able to get shots from a range of situations – throughballs into space in direct attacks from deep, off dribbles in/around the box, crosses and cut-backs from wide, set-pieces, as well as the odd opposition mistake. As a shooter, he prefers power to finesse and possesses an excellent ball-striking technique. He generates great power with minimal back-lift, which makes him a threat from less likely situations/positions and leads to spectacular finishes. That said, Darwin lacks touch/composure at times – adding that would make him a more versatile goalscorer.
Last Updated: 01.03.2021 | Llew Davies
Victor Osimhen has endured a difficult and staggered route to the top, beset by health setbacks and spells in four countries. The Nigerian arose to prominence at the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup where he scored ten goals, claiming the tournament’s Golden Boot.
From there he signed a contract with Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg, but injury, followed by a bout of malaria threatened to derail his European career before it had even begun. Osimhen rebooted with RSC Charleroi in Belgium before joining Lille in Ligue 1 after a strong scoring campaign in the Belgian Pro League.
His diverse skillset, extreme work-rate and awareness of space across defensive lines enabled him to replicate that scoring run in France, which in turn made way for a huge move to Napoli.
STYLE OF PLAY
Osimhen is quick off the mark, retains his speed over long distances and can quite capably run in behind as easily as he competes in the air with his 6’1” frame. He’s an accurate finisher, high-volume shooter and a first-class competitor in any given duel.
The 22-year-old’s link-up play is to a good standard, and in the time he has spent on the pitch in Italy, it has acted as an effective foil for the diminutive Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne. He creates shots for himself, as well as others, which is a positive sign and commonly lends itself to individuals who do not find themselves hamstrung when fielded in different styles or systems.
Last Updated: 01.03.2021 | Joe Donnohue
Gianluca Scamacca’s career has taken its time to blossom. A wonderful youth international career with Italy has often been counter-balanced by struggles at club level.
Last season though, some time spent on loan at Ascoli in Serie B gave Scamacca his first proper shot at senior football and started to show glimpses of why he has always been so highly rated in Italian football circles. Last season at Genoa, while playing time was sporadic, he continued to showcase his ongoing development.
Now at Sassuolo, and with veteran striker Francesco Caputo no longer standing in his path to the first team, Scamacca will have a great opportunity to produce a breakout goalscoring season.
STYLE OF PLAY
The Italian striker is physically gifted. His athletic profile is reminiscent of a young Zlatan Ibrahimović; he is extremely mobile at 6’5”, and while he is not yet the physically dominant striker the Swede has become, the potential is undoubtedly there.
In the meantime, there are so many other aspects of his game to be excited about. Scamacca is turning into a nicely well-rounded striker. His non-penalty expected goals per 90 minutes of 0.34 in 2020/21 so far is quite solid for a young player in a bad team, but it his creativity and ball progression that provide the best indication of a striker that could be influential at a top-level club.
His hold up play and ball carrying is a much improved feature of his game as he grows more comfortable at senior level. His technical quality is wonderful for his size and he has a good turn of pace as well.
Now he needs more minutes and more goals. Playing at Genoa was a steep learning curve, as he had to learn to play at middling team. His mid-season relegation to the bench in favour of Mattia Destro did not dishearten onlookers anyway; Fiorentina, Eintracht Frankfurt, Inter Milan, Juventus and Cagliari were all linked with moves for Scamacca during the summer transfer window.
With Sassuolo, and with more goals and playing time under his belt, expect big clubs to continue to circle.
Last Updated: 01.09.2021 | STEPHEN GANAVAS
Erling Haaland. As long as you have Kylian Mbappé playing out wide.
If you can get him, RB Salzburg’s Karim Adeyemi is a great choice. However, lower cost options such as Amine Adli, Abdallah Sima and Adam Hložek are also great choices.
As with every position, there are countless options to lead the line in your FM21 squad. But finding a player that fits your budget is another story altogether.