Modern-day football teams revolve their game styles and strategies around the abilities and qualities of their strikers. Gone are the days when strikers were only expected to put the ball in the back of the net. They are now expected to contribute to the team defensively, hold possession, make runs in behind, create chances and produce moments of magic as well.
The demands of a striker have changed. Forwards are expected to have the speed and trickery of a winger and the technique and passing ability of a midfielder. The new-age striker is, therefore, a complete player, but at times tends to lack the killer instinct that has helped countless attackers become legends over the years.
The ability to sniff out opportunities to score, arrive in the box at the right time, sense when defenders are going to make a mistake and punish them for that are skills only a few players are born with.
These strikers are often referred to as poachers, or in other words strikers who have the ability to be in the right place at the right time to score goals. Poachers often spend most of their time in the opposition penalty area waiting for service from their teammates and converting the opportunity.
Forwards such as Filippo Inzaghi, Michael Owen, Raul and Ruud van Nistelrooy are examples of players who have become legends by being the best poachers in the game.
The art of poaching goals is one that is rarely seen in modern football, though, as teams demand much more from their strikers. On that note, here's a look at the five best poachers in world football at the moment.
#5 Mauro Icardi (Paris Saint-Germain)
Before his move to PSG in the summer of 2019, Mauro Icardi was one of the most feared strikers in Europe, especially during this time with Inter Milan. He scored 124 goals in just 219 appearances in all competitions for the Italian club, and won the Capocanonniere award twice.
Icardi scored over 20 goals in a Serie A campaign on three separate occasions, and was often linked with a move to some of the world's biggest clubs. His predatory instinct in the box made him one of the best strikers in the game.
He scored 20 goals in 34 appearances in his debut season with PSG, but has cooled off since then, even with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar for company.
The 28-year-old, though, remains one of the most highly-rated no.9s in the game. He has been courted by the likes of Juventus and AC Milan in recent months despite enduring a disappointing 2020-21 campaign.
#4 Edinson Cavani (Manchester United)
Uruguayan Edinson Cavani is, without a doubt, one of the best poachers in modern football. The epitome of 'a fox in the box', Cavani is known for his ability to sniff out opportunities and force defenders to make mistakes, and also for his finishing.
Cavani has scored goals wherever he has been at. He scored an impressive 104 goals in 138 appearances for Napoli before his move to PSG. While at the Ligue 1 giants, Cavani scored 200 goals in just 301 appearances, and is currently the club's all-time leading goalscorer.
He has won the Capocanonniere once, and finished as Ligue 1's top goalscorer twice. Edinson Cavani has added another dimension to Manchester United's attack after joining the club on a free transfer last summer.
He ended the season with 17 goals in 39 appearances for the Red Devils. Cavani's presence in the box, finishing, heading ability and work rate make him one of the best poachers and strikers in the world despite being 34.