BEST YOUNG FOOTBALL STRIKERS

BRIEF SCOUTING REPORTS ON SOME OF THE BEST EMERGING STRIKERS

Here’s our eight newest reports on a small selection of our favourite young strikers. More profiles can be found in the young players, goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and wingers sections. Below, you’ll find profiles covering backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses, while providing links to where you can find out more about them.

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.

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LAST UPDATED: MARCH 27, 2022

Matías Arezo

Matias Arezo

DATE OF BIRTH

21/11/2002

positions

Striker

CLUB

Granada CF

NATION

Uruguay

AREZO

14

HEIGHT

1.80 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Matías Arezo is well-known to many already because of ability on Football Manager, but he is also a pretty exciting prospect in real-world football. He made his River Plate (URU) debut as a 16-year-old and has accumulated 91 appearances in the last two years, scoring 37 goals in the process – albeit a good chunk of those were from the penalty spot.

Nicknamed ‘El Bufalo’ in Uruguay, he made a much-anticipated move to Europe in January 2022, moving to La Liga club Granada CF for €5 million.

STYLE OF PLAY

Arezo’s build subscribes to the stereotypical South American striker – short and stocky with good 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, something which may be an issue in the top European leagues.

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.

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 his awful shot selection is a key weakness of his game. He shoots from any angle and distance, regardless of situation; he shoots from the halfway line every other 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 relay possession and can create shots with direct passes or crosses, especially in transition. Ultimately, he works best with a partner, like Lautaro Martínez.

Arezo would’ve been better making a move within South America (Argentina, Brazil) or to a mid-level league in Europe (Portugal) before an elite-level league like La Liga. He can become a regular scorer in a top-five league, although his athleticism is likely not good enough to reach Champions League level.

Myron Boadu

AS Monaco's Myron Boadu

DATE OF BIRTH

14/01/2001

positions

Striker

CLUB

AS Monaco

NATION

Netherlands

BOADU

9

HEIGHT

1.83 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Both

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

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.

His move to AS Monaco this season hasn’t worked out – yet. A couple of injuries have hampered him, and the role he’s played doesn’t really suit him.

STYLE OF PLAY

Even after suffering two serious injuries before his 18th birthday, Myron Boadu remains a high-impact athlete. He’s explosive over short distances, able to create separations. He also has excellent top-end speed which few can match. He’s nimble enough in smaller spaces and possesses a mature, athletic frame.

His movement in general is excellent. He’s a constant threat against high defensive lines: he positions himself on the last man and shows impressive awareness in his positioning and posture, angling his body to optimise his runs into depth. His acceleration and speed make him 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 ranked as one of the best young strikers around in terms of shot quality. 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 and 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.

Patson Daka

Leicester City striker Patson Daka

DATE OF BIRTH

09/10/1998

positions

Striker

CLUB

Leicester City

NATION

Zambia

DAKA

29

HEIGHT

1.83 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

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 transfer to Leicester City is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a ton of goals scored.

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. 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.

Adam Hložek​​

Sparta Prague's Adam Hlozek

DATE OF BIRTH

25/07/2002

positions

Second striker

CLUB

AC Sparta Praha

NATION

Czech Republic

HLOZEK

20

HEIGHT

1.88 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

Adam Hložek is one of the most exciting talents currently playing outside of the top-five leagues in European football.

Since breaking into the AC Sparta Praha first-team as a 16-year-old during the 2018/19 season, Hložek has racked up well over 100 senior appearances, scoring and creating plenty along the way. He’s also established himself as a regular in the Czech Republic squad. Hložek is on the precipice of a big move to a big club.

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.

 
 

 

 

Alexander Isak

Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak

DATE OF BIRTH

21/09/1999

positions

Striker

CLUB

Real Sociedad

NATION

Sweden

ISAK

19

HEIGHT

1.92 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

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 La Liga 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.

Alou Kuol

VfB Stuttgart's Alou Kuol

DATE OF BIRTH

05/07/2001

positions

Striker

CLUB

VfB Stuttgart

NATION

Australia

KUOL

29

HEIGHT

1.80 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

A semi-professional footballer in 2019, and barely a professional for part of 2020, Alou Kuol is now one of the hottest names in Australian football.

A wonderful first full campaign in the A-League did not go unnoticed in Europe either, with Sven Mislintat’s VfB Stuttgart pouncing to complete the signing of 2001-born striker who made the move to Germany at the end of his debut season in the A-League.

After six months training with the first-team and playing with the second-team in the Regionalliga, Kuol has joined SV Sandhausen on loan in the 2. Bundesliga.

STYLE OF PLAY

Kuol’s fundamental qualities are surprisingly strong for a youngster just emerging at the professional level. His game has a lot of intensity to it; he makes things happen, he is already at (and above) the physical level to compete at senior level, and the defensive side of his game is quite competent.

And from there you build. As a striker, he obviously needs to score, and in the A-League he has been one of the best in 2020/21. While his role as a super sub has helped, his returns – both in terms of goals and expected goals – are right near the top of all A-League players.

Kuol thrives in a variety of situations because of a unique physical profile that sees him dominate in aerial duels, while still being agile and extremely quick. He is not overly tall, but he possesses an incredible leap that helps him score a lot of headers, as well as contest strongly for the ball across the field. His agility is derived from a light-footed running stance that sees him jog around the pitch almost on his tippy-toes as he scans for opportunities to latch onto a loose touch or misdirected pass.

His game will still need some rounding out; he can look slightly unnatural in possession at times, especially when he has time to take a touch and assess his options. But within an elite development set-up at Stuttgart, there is hope that Kuol has the tools to become the next great Australian striker.

Darwin Núñez

Benfica's Darwin Nunez

DATE OF BIRTH

24/06/1999

positions

Striker

CLUB

SL Benfica

NATION

Uruguay

DARWIN

9

HEIGHT

1.87 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

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. After a relatively slow start in Portugal, the Uruguayan striker has kicked into stride and scored 18 goals in 18 league games in the 2021/22 season – as well as three in the Champions League group stage.

STYLE OF PLAY

Comparing anyone to Erling Braut Haaland is a disingenuous, but Darwin Núñez will remind you of him a little bit – not least for the way he attacks space. Like Haaland, Darwin is a tall striker with long limbs who possesses explosive athleticism. His acceleration and top-end speed is excellent, making him a dangerous attacker in transition and open space. When he gets going, he creates separations easily. 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’s good at attacking space off the shoulder, making the most of his speed, but is also adept at making short, sharp movements around the box which distract and occupy defenders. He scans regularly 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’s able to get shots from a range of situations – throughballs into space in direct attacks from deep, off dribbles in and 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 excellent ball-striking technique. He generates great power with minimal back-lift, which makes him a threat from less likely situations and leads to spectacular finishes. That said, Darwin lacks composure at times – adding that would make him a more versatile goalscorer.

Victor Osimhen

Napoli's Victor Osimhen

DATE OF BIRTH

29/12/1998

positions

Striker

CLUB

SSC Napoli

NATION

Nigeria

OSIMHEN

9

HEIGHT

1.86 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

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.

Gianluca Scamacca

Sassuolo's Gianluca Scamacca

DATE OF BIRTH

01/01/1999

positions

Striker

CLUB

US Sassuolo

NATION

Italy

SCAMACCA

91

HEIGHT

1.95 metres

PREFERRED FOOT

Right

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

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 back at Sassuolo, Scamacca has seized a long-awaited opportunity to be their starting striker. He will likely be a prominent figure for Italy’s senior side in the short, medium and long term.

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.

It’s Erling Braut Haaland, if you don’t class Kylian Mbappé as a striker. If you do, it’s Mbappé. Their on levels of their own.

Alexander Isak is a good option for some of the best teams. Amine Gouiri is another fun option, as is Darwin Núñez.

It’s difficult to go wrong with the Red Bull Salzburg pair of Karim Adeyemi and Benjamin Šeško – both are easily attainable for most clubs in the big leagues, and both have high-level potential. We also really love Georginio Rutter at Hoffenheim.