A perfect footballer is non-existent. We tend to focus on developing our most natural traits because we have limited time to develop all aspects. This is why complete players in football are rare and perfect one a thing of fairy tales. But let’s suppose there was a perfect striker and he could take traits and skills from ex-Arsenal players. What kind of striker would he be?
Here is a list of all the best traits and skills he should own:
1. The work rate of Alexis Sanchez
It’s inspiring for others to have a player who would push on until the final whistle. Sanchez is such a person. He possesses the technique and class of a world-class forward, but does not rely on them alone. He is tireless. It’s great to have someone like that who can provide cover for teammates with his incessant running.
2. The pace of Theo Walcott
Pace can help players exploit free space and put defenders under stress as they need to pay attention to their positioning at all times.
Walcott’s pace would do nicely for our perfect striker. The winger has worn the crown of fastest Arsenal player until recently when Hector Bellerin emerged as a contender. Walcott has been clocked at 34.78 km/h. That would make him beat Usain Bolt by two meters in the first 40 meters.
3. The chip of Ian Wright
The most beautiful goals come from chips. This is mostly because goalkeepers often remain helpless by these well-executed precision shots.
Ian Wright was the master of it. He possessed keen awareness for the positioning of the goalkeeper and a nose for exploiting it.
4. The dribbling of Alexander Hleb
Good dribbling gives the extra directness needed to put the opposition’s defenders on their toes. It also makes a single player into a nightmare to deal with in those speedy encounters.
Alexander Hleb was a prime example of good dribbling. He slalomed like skiing champion Alberto Tomba. A good striker would pose that much more danger if he can do what Hleb could.
5. The jumping of Thomas Vermaelen
This is a great ability to have in dead ball situations –offensive or otherwise. It gives another dimension of playing.
Standing at 6ft, Vermaelen wasn’t a high defender but his blast off racked up a stellar win percentage in the air.
6. The composure of Thierry Henry
This is a must characteristic of any striker. It is the ability to slow down time in your mind and a particular quick mind is required for it.
Thierry Henry was one of the quickest minds around when he played. He would have scored 28, not 228, in his Arsenal stint without it.
7. The clinical finishing of Eduardo
A striker needs to have deadly efficiency. He needs to be a poacher, to squeeze a something out of nothing, to score from every touch and every chance he gets.
Before his gruesome leg injury, Eduardo was one of the most clinical strikers to grace Arsenal. The perfect striker would be lucky to have his finishing touch.
8. The vision of Dennis Bergkamp
The Ice man had the ability of playing right on the border where vision and technique meet. He possessed an exquisite mix of both and glued them together to perfection.
His ability to interpret movement, to see a pass that nobody else could make him a key figure in any team. A perfect striker needs vision like his.
9. The long shot of Ray Parlour
Long-range goals present oppositional teams with an extra dimension to deal with. They present constant danger for keepers and defenders as they can get caught unprepared. And they often turn out to very beautiful. That’s why we love them.
Ray Parlour boasted a royal long-range shot. He scored many brilliant goals with it. Our perfect striker would be glad to have it too.
10. The balance of Robin van Persie
Imagine him performing the Nutcracker at the Balshoi theatre - Robin van Persie with arms stretched out to the sides, body gracefully rocking from side to side. It’s easy to conjure such an image for a reason.
The Dutch maestro possessed something inborn to ballet dancers: balance. If you focused on his centre gravity in his movement, you would notice it stayed static. This is a sign of balance mastery. Only few footballers possessed such polished ability.
11. The feint shot of Thierry Henry
Feints are a sign of mastery. The reason being is it requires the technique but also a keen understanding of people. The aim of the feint is to trick the mind.
Henry knew this and used it frequently, often feinting shots to pass defenders or open the play. It worked like a charm.
12. The first touch of Dennis Bergkamp
You need to calculate the speed of the ball, the angle of its trajectory and adjust your body and feet to the right angle, applying and equal amount of energy to direct where the ball is going–all this in a fraction of a second.
The first touch is intuitive, and it shows a subtle attunement to the game that only comes with inborn talent.
None better than Bergkamp to show that.
What else would a perfect striker need? Let us know.