5 exciting wingers that could be brilliant playing as strikers

Henry is a classic example of the winger-turned-striker
Henry is a classic example of the winger-turned-striker

Few positions in football have seen as big an evolution as that of the winger. Traditionally, the role of these wide men was to get the ball in the box for strikers to score.

This was due to the fact that the 4-4-2 role with two strikers was the dominant formation for a very long time. This meant that with two players to aim for, the job of the winger was to do more of assisting and defensive work.

The evolution of the game has changed the role of the winger completely. While assisting is still part of the demands on a winger, the evolution of formations has effectively changed their roles and duties.

In the modern 4-3-3 formation, the winger has to add goals to his repertoire given how many times they get into scoring positions. For instance, under Zinedine Zidane, the main striker at Real Madrid; Karim Benzema played in a more withdrawn role. This allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to get into goalscoring positions.

The modern winger, therefore, shares many of the characteristics of the striker. This means that over time, some of the modern wingers may evolve into becoming strikers.

Here is a look at 5 young wingers who may become strikers in the nearest future:

#5 Goncalo Guedes (Valencia CF)

Guedes' intelligence could stand him in good stead as a striker
Guedes' intelligence could stand him in good stead as a striker

The Portuguese winger has been an absolute joy to watch since he burst onto the scene at SL Benfica. The youngster was brilliant in his loan spell at Valencia last year and his love for the club and city saw to it that the deal was made permanent.

Like his countryman, Ronaldo, Guedes is not an atypical winger. His game relies more on awareness, intelligence and movement rather than just pace. His ability to keep the ball is very impressive for a 22-year-old who still has more to add to his game. Apart from being a great passer and an amazing dribbler, he shoots very well and gets more than his fair share of goals.

At the 2018 World Cup, he lined up for Portugal as a striker but didn't shine very well. This was due to the fact that the entire Portuguese attacking set-up was designed to play to Ronaldo's strengths. Guedes' intelligence means he can function effectively as a striker flanked by wingers.

His ability to find a pass and hold the ball means that in playing him as a centre-forward, he can draw defenders unto himself and release the wingers with a well-timed pass. His intelligence will also allow him to find spaces in the manner of the best strikers.

His decision-making needs improvement but that is something he can get better at as he grows older.

#4 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City & England)

Sterling has shown his centre-forward abilities on occasion
Sterling has shown his centre-forward abilities on occasion

It has been said without often that Sterling is not the atypical English winger. For years, the English (British) system had produced some of the world's less intelligent wingers. Full of pace and running but with little intelligence and almost zero end product.

Sterling is cut from a different cloth. Luckily for the 23-year-old, he has worked with coaches at club level who have helped him raise his game differently. At Liverpool, Brendan Rogers allowed Sterling to play off the front duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. This allowed the England international to play off the front duo and get into great scoring positions.

At Manchester City surrounded by the creative talents of Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva amongst others, Sterling's intelligence and sense of positioning has improved exponentially. Occasionally, Pep Guardiola has fielded him as a withdrawn striker.

For a nominal winger, Sterling's wing play has been akin more to a striker's in terms of positioning, intelligent use of the ball and off-the-ball movement. It seems that Guardiola sees traces of Lionel Messi in the English man's game.

It is almost certain that he will end up as a front man in the nearest future. Based on what he has done so far, he would be good at it.

#3 Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen & Jamaica)

The Jamaican youngster is tailor-made for the striker's position
The Jamaican youngster is tailor-made for the striker's position

The only left-footed winger on the list, Bailey has already had a taste of playing as a centre-forward. In his early days at Belgian side Genk, he played across the front-line.

Though he didn't particularly excel as a centre-forward, his movement and use of space caught the eye. The winger has been one of the standout stars in the Bundesliga and is on the radar of many a big club on the continent. Blessed with pace and trickery, he has often been compared to Dutch legend, Arjen Robben.

However, his talent may be better suited to playing as a striker in the mould of Valencia's Rodrigo Moreno. Great with his back to goal and brilliant at playing off another striker, the Spanish international makes great use of his intelligence to get into good positions.

This is something Bailey could aim for as in terms of positioning, intelligence, dribbling abilities, and technique, both men share similar characteristics.

Bailey is already used to switching positions in a young and vibrant Bayer 04 attack (alongside fellow tyros like Kai Harthez & Julian Brandt). Switching to an attacking role full-time wouldn't be that big a deal.

#2 Inaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao and Spain)

Williams' has already shown his ability to play as a striker this season
Williams' has already shown his ability to play as a striker this season

The Spanish youngster shares so many characteristics with Ronaldo; pace, intelligence, power, skill. He could with the right coaching imitate the Portuguese superstar's success in a striking role.

Pacy, strong and intelligent, Iñaki is already evolving into a fulltime centre-forward. This is a position that many feel he should be playing more of. Athletic Bilbao manager Eduardo Berizzo has deployed the 24-year-old as a central striker this season.

While it is still a work in progress, there are signs that Williams may grow into the role. His hold-up play is improving and his pace is helping the team stretch opposing defences. His ability to contest for balls in the air has been not been properly utilized before due to his place on the wing.

Regular LaLiga watchers will attest to the fact that there are still quite a number of flaws in his game that need to be addressed. However, he has shown already that with consistent game time in the striker's role, he can deliver. Inaki has already recorded a goal and two assists (he got the assists in a single game against SD Huesca while playing as a striker).

#1 Richarlison (Everton & Brazil)

Richarlison looks like the best fit for the striking position
looks like the best fit for the striking position

Probably the readiest to play as a centre-forward, the 21-year-old has shown that with the right coaching and in the right environment, he can become a world-class striker

His pace, strength, elusiveness, and skills bamboozled the Premier League in the season that he arrived at Watford. Playing as an inverted winger, the Brazilian youngster wrecked opposition defences by drifting into scoring positions

Following his £40 million move to Everton, he started the season playing on the left flanking either Cenk Tosun or Dominic Calvert-Lwein. His ability to drift into space as well as take defenders on is a hallmark of the world's best strikers.

He is good in the air and like the Brazilian great, Ronaldo de Lima, his trickery and quick feet can help him get off shots before defenders have time to react. In his first game as a centre-forward for the Toffees, he made life miserable for the Leicester City defence, scoring a goal and drawing fouls (Leicester captain Wes Morgan was sent-off for fouling him twice).

With Everton manager, Marco Silva set to give him an extended run in the position, expect Richarlison to get even better.

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