The Premier League is regarded as the most competitive championship in the world of football. There have been so many great goalscorers over the years for clubs both big and small. We’re going to take a look at the 30 greatest strikers in the history of the division.
We’re sticking to out-and-out strikers so there is no room for the likes of Christiano Ronaldo or Mohammed Salah. Some of our picks might cause controversy. Who do you think we’ve missed out on?
30. Emmanuel Adebayor
Before he lost interest at every club he basically played for, Adebayor would have at least one season where he’d show off his insane talent. The Togo frontman scored 24 league goals for the Gunners in 2007/08. He would also become the first player to score hat-tricks home and away against the same team in the same campaign, versus Derby.
Then came the switch to Manchester City and that famous knee-slide in front of the Arsenal fans. Adebayor hit 14 goals in his first season at the Etihad, and 17 in his debut campaign for Spurs, but his form faded before a one-goal spell at Crystal Palace in 2015/16.
Another former Spurs striker, but one who is looked back upon with much more affection is Germany’s Jurgen Klinsmann. One of the league’s first major foreign imports, he wasn’t actually liked that much by English fans at first. But he would go on to earn the respect of fans by 21 goals in 1994.
He’d infamously leave after a single season but would come back and save Spurs from relegation three seasons later. He might only have 30 Premier League goals in total, but his impact, legacy and status earn him a place on this list.
Deserving of a place on this list, alongside Riyadh Mahrez, Jamie Vardy was one of the two most influential players in their incredible Premier League title win in 2015-16. He would go on to win the PFL Player of the Year as well as scoring in 11 straight games. This broke Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s previous record for most consecutive games with goals scored.
Vardy was offered the chance to join Chelsea but chose to remain at Leicester. His journey is worthy of a film, as he rose up through the ranks, from non-league with Stocksbridge Park Steels to Halifax town. Then he scored 31 goals in his first season at Fleetwood, attracting Leicester’s attention. And the rest is history.
Famous for his many transfers, Anelka left the Premier League three times but kept returning. A title winner with Arsenal he later moved to Real Madrid. But Le Sulk moved back to England with Liverpool (on loan) and Manchester City before departing again for Fenerbahce.
It was with Bolton Wanderers that he would eventually establish himself as one of the division’s top strikers and that won him a move to Chelsea where he struck up a potent partnership with Didier Drogba. He scored 38 goals in four seasons for the Blues, winning a Premier League title.
You can’t mention one without mentioning the other. Dwight Yorke came to Manchester United as a replacement for Andy Cole, but would eventually strike up a prolific partnership with the Englishman. He won the unique treble of the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champion’s League with the Red Devils.
Yorke was renowned for his wide smile and was a party animal. He still was great on the pitch too, with 52 goals in 96 appearances for United. His best ever season total would be 29 in 1998-99.
With 187 goals, Andy Cole is the third highest scorer in Premier League history. He played for 14 clubs, but inarguably his best days were with Manchester United, where he would eventually replace Eric Cantona as the club’s main striker. He’s one of the few players in the English game to win every available honour, from the Young Player of the Year to the Premier League title.
He was also a Champion’s League winner with Manchester United and would famously strike up a partnership with Dwight Yorke, the man who was brought in to replace him.
The seventh-highest scorer in Premier League history, Defoe had successful spells with a number of clubs including Portsmouth, Spurs and Sunderland. He also holds the record for the most goals scored by a substitute, with 22 in the league.
Football aside, one of the most incredible things that he did was establish a friendship with the young Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery, who tragically suffered from terminal neuroblastoma. He was awarded an OBE for services to his foundation and achieved the goodwill of all football fans.
The ‘baby-faced assassin’ might be the manager of Manchester United at the time of writing, but he was also one of the most clinical finishers in the history of the premier league. Who will ever forget him popping up with that last minute goal to win the champion’s league for the Reds?
Renowned as a super-sub, the Norwegian’s best premier league performance was when he came on against Aston Villa and slot in a sensational four goals in 1999. He would average a goal every 150 minutes.
Over three-and-a-half years with Liverpool, Fernando Torres was arguably the best striker on the planet. His lightning pace and superb finishing made him Nemanja Vidic’s worst nightmare. He scored 33 times in his first campaign with the Reds and a further 39 over the next few seasons at Anfield.
Amid the turmoil at the club, Torres secured a transfer to Chelsea. While he didn’t perform so sublimely for the Pensioners, he ironically did win more trophies, including a Champions League. His highlight or the Blues was picking up a loose ball in the semi-final against Barcelona and scoring the injury-time winner.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is one of the just three footballers to top the Premier League scoring charts with three different clubs. He would share the golden boot with Michael Owen and Dwight Yorke in 1998/99, scoring 18 times, becoming a Leeds United hero.
He’d also play for Chelsea from 2000-01, scoring 23 times in 35 appearances for the Blues. He would go on to represent Middlesbrough, Charlton and Cardiff, while also having Atletico Madrid on his CV. What a great name too.
One of a few high-maintenance characters on this list, Tevez has the dubious honour of having played for both Manchester clubs and being important to both of their successes. He first arrived in England with West Ham, and would controversially save the Hammers from relegation, with seven goals.
Then he’d move to Manchester United, quickly becoming a favourite for his tenacious style and great goals. However, the man loves to court controversy and would move across the city to Manchester City. Who can forget that ‘Welcome to Manchester’ poster? Of course, he’d leave after feuding with the manager, but still, haul in 43 goals for the Citizens.
Owen is in that weird position where he is disowned by many Liverpool fans but still regarded as one of their best players of the premier league era. As an 18-year-old when he came through at Anfield, he was magnificent. On the international scene, who can forget that outrageous goal against Argentina?
He shared the Golden Boot in 1997/98. He would score 118 goals for the Reds. He would go on to play for Real Madrid, Newcastle, Manchester United and Stoke City. Injuries would cruelly rob him of his pace later in his career.
The Bulgarian striker is one of the most unique players on this list. His languid, sauntering style could make him frustrating at times, but then he’d pull off the most outrageous piece of skill and make it look effortless. He made his name with Spurs in a prolific partnership alongside Ireland legend Robbie Keane.
However, it was when he moved to Manchester United that we saw his full potential. He scored a personal best of 20 goals when he won the league with the Red Devils in 2010-11. His bicycle goal against Liverpool was one of his crowning moments.
Harry Kane was not meant to break through the ranks at White Hart Lane. It’s outlandish to think of now. A fit Kane is the first name on Mauricio Pochettino and England manager Gareth Southgate’s team sheets. He holds the joint record for the most Premier League Player of the Month awards and has been named in the PFL team of the season four times.
For four seasons he broke the 20 goal mark, from 2014-18. Injuries prevented him from scoring more than 17 last season, but having won the World Cup Golden Boot last summer, you’ll think he might not mind so much. He’s currently Tottenham’s fourth all-time top scorer.
The man Liverpool fans still call ‘God,’ Robbie Fowler is arguably the most naturally talented striker to have ever come through the Anfield ranks. He scored a total of 183 goals for the Reds, with 128 of those coming in the league. He was a major part of their 2000-01 cup treble winning season under Gerard Houllier.
Sadly injuries would decimate Fowler. He missed the world cup in 1998 and then Michael Owen came along, ousting him as Liverpool’s main man. He would play for Leeds United and Manchester City before returning to his spiritual home of Anfield in 2006.
Arsenal must rue the day they sold Robin Van Persie. One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest signings, his goals basically won the Red Devils the 2012-13 premier league title. He would win his second consecutive Premier League Golden Boot Award that season, with a total of 26 in the league.
He was also a massive performer at the Emirates Stadium. Scoring 35 goals in 2011, he demonstrated why he was regarded as the heir apparent to Dennis Bergkamp. While he did have to deal with multiple serious injuries across his career, he still played until the age of 35, retiring with his home club Feyenoord.
Yes, Chelsea had icons even before the Abramovich era. Nobody symbolises the pre-oligarch days more than Gianfranco Zola. The imp-like Italian might not be the most prolific forward on this list, but his dazzling skills and equally dazzling smile earned him a spot.
Zola was crowned the Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 1997 following his first campaign at Stamford Bridge, and his seven years in London featured two FA Cups, the League Cup and the winner in a Cup Winners’ Cup final. Back in 2003, he was voted Chelsea’s greatest ever player. While he might not be rated that now, it just shows how influential he was.
Ferdinand is the 8th highest scorer in Premier League history with an incredible 149 goals. The cousin of former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, Les made his name with Queens Park Rangers and would score 24 goals in the 94/95 season.
Then he moved onto Newcastle where he was adored by the fans. His goal rate there was phenomenal: 41 in 68 games. He had a very successful partnership with Alan Shearer and was a runner-up in the league with the Magpies. His other major club was Spurs, the team he supported as a boy. Injuries slowed him down there, but he still had a big part to play.
Teddy Sheringham moved to Manchester United in 1997 and would go on to win three league titles in four seasons, winning him the footballer of the year honour. Incredibly, by today’s standards, he was 34 years old at the time. He would also win the Champion’s League in 1999 providing that assist for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, against Bayern Munich.
Sheringham is also a Spurs legend. He was the league’s top scorer in the inaugural year of the Premier League with a haul of 22. Beloved by the Londoners, his partnership with Jurgen Klinsmann was famous. He would also play for the likes of Portsmouth and West Ham United.
Now a familiar pundit, Ian Wright won the league title with Arsenal aged 34. It was his last act with the club before moving across the city to join West Ham. He struck up a famous partnership with a certain Dutch forward called Dennis Bergkamp, who appears later down this list.
Wright might be overshadowed by the force of nature that came after in Thierry Henry, but he was still a phenomenal forward and is Arsenal’s second highest scorer of all time, with 185 finishes. Randomly he is also Crystal Palace’s third highest scorer and put in 387 professional goals across his career in Scotland and England.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s cruciate ligament injury delayed the Dutch forward’s arrival at Manchester United from PSV. Astoundingly he recovered to unleash his best form and become one of the Red Devil’s all-time greats. He hit 150 goals in 219 games, an outstanding record.
The Dutch forward also became the PFA Players’ Player of the Year after his first campaign in 2000 and claimed the Premier League Golden Boot a year later. He smashed in 25 goals in the league with a ludicrous 44 goals across all competitions. He deserved to win more than a solitary title with Manchester United.
One of Chelsea’s greatest players and an icon of Jose Mourinho’s first and most successful period with the club, you’d forget that Drogba struggled when he first arrived from Marseille. The goals were dry and he was constantly accused of diving. However, when he settled, he was an absolute powerhouse.
He won back-to-back titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06. Then he would go on to win the Golden Boot a year later before repeating the feat with 29 goals in 2009/10. Drogba is also a legend off the pitch, famously setting up hospitals and schools in his native Ivory Coast.
Nations tend to go through eras with strikers. Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene with Everton in 2002 as a 16-year-old, but it was with Manchester United that he made his name, becoming a massive part of their success in the noughties.
He would go on to score 208 Premier League goals, on the way to five titles with Manchester United and the PFA Players’ Player of the Year prize in 2010. In his prime, his game was arguably sacrificed to make room for Christiano Ronaldo’s sublime talents. After a season with Everton, he now plays his football in the MLS with DC United.
A PFA Players’ Player of the Year when he scored 16 goals in 28 games in 1997/98, Dennis Bergkamp is another iconic Arsenal striker. His incredible treble at Leicester was hailed by Martin O’Neill as “the best hat-trick I have ever seen”, Meanwhile, a sensational finish against Newcastle in 2002 was named the greatest goal in Premier League history.
Bergkamp struck up superb partnerships, first with Ian Wright and then with Thierry Henry. The Invincible played an instrumental role in the most successful moments of Arsenal’s modern history.
There is nobody on this list that you would prefer to take a penalty than Matthew Le Tissier. The Saint’s icon proved that you don’t have to play for one of the traditional big clubs to be an all-time great. He spent his entire professional career with Southampton, scoring 161 goals.
His penalty record was phenomenal. He scored a remarkable 47 out of 48 attempts. You could bet your house on him converting. While he also played deeper as an attacking midfielder, he was a great striker for the Saints as well.
Cantona might have been everybody’s favourite villain in the 90s, but in the last ten years, Luis Suarez assumed his mantle. The former Liverpool star arrived from Ajax in 2011 and swiftly began to tear up the league. His sole honour with the Reds was a League Cup, but he still was magnificent during his time there.
In 2014, he was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year as well as winning the Premier League Golden Boot. Ever a subject of controversy, he’s bitten opponents on three separate occasions and was also involved in an alleged racism incident while at the Reds. Opposition fans loved to hate him, Liverpool fans adored him.
Another great personality of the game, you’d almost forget that he played for one of Manchester United’s biggest rivals, Leeds. He scored the Peacock’s first hattrick of the Premier League era, but it was when he moved onto United that he became a true icon of the game.
That karate kick is a moment that is engrained in the minds of every fan that saw it. Cantona’s charisma and personality literally changed the game. On the pitch, he was also magnificent. He won four Premier League titles with the Red Devils and scored 64 goals in 143 appearances for them too.
A Newcastle icon, Shearer is the greatest English striker of the Premier League era. He scored an incredible 260 goals across his Premier League career. Starting off with Southampton, he’d move onto Blackburn Rovers where he would famously win the Premier League.
Then it was onto Newcastle, his hometown club and his pride and joy. He holds the joint record for hattricks in the division with 11 and placed third in the 1996 FIFA World Player of the Year awards. He also held a solitary PFL Player of the Year award in 1995. Sir Alex Ferguson wished he signed him.
No other player had scored over 20 goals in five consecutive campaigns before the Frenchman came along. Famously converted from winger to striker by Arsene Wenger, his pace and potency were absolutely sublime. Henry had two spells at Arsenal, famously coming back in 2012 on loan.
He won the PFL player of the year twice and was an integral part of the Invincibles back in 2003-04. He’s also the Gunner’s all-time leading goalscorer with an amazing 228 goals. Henry captained the club in his final two seasons with the club before moving on to Barcelona.
Yes, the Premier League’s own special Argentinian is who we rate as the league’s greatest ever striker. The 31-year-old signed from Atletico Madrid in 2011 and few would have predicted just how sensational he would turn to be. He’s the Citizen’s all-time top scorer and holds the joint record for most goals scored in a single game (5).
Curiously underrated, he’s never won the PFL player of the year. He’s scored over 20 goals in 6 of his 8 seasons at the Etihad Arena and won four premier league titles. His goal against Queens Park Rangers back in 2012 is now iconic.