The Top 10 Serie A Center Forwards in the Last 10 Years

Although every playing positions has its own flavor, there’s something quite special about the center forward role. This is the player who leads the line for his club, and for the supporters, he can easily turn from zero to hero – or the exact opposite – in one blink of an eye.

Even though Italian football had its difficulties throughout the last 15 years or so, Serie A was and still is blessed with some formidable center forwards. Thus, here are the Top 10 stars who played the number 9 role in Italy since 2010 until today.

NB: The players chosen on the list are all essentially center forwards. Whilst others like Cristiano Ronaldo and Dries Mertens were at times deployed in this role, they are mostly associated with a different playing position and should appear on some of our upcoming lists.

10 – Duvan Zapata

The Colombian has been plying his trade in Serie A since 2013, but his road towards cementing himself as one of the best center forwards in the country was far from easy.

Zapata struggled from playing at Napoli who had Gonzalo Higuain amongst their ranks at the time, and his later stints at Udinese and Sampdoria can be considered decent at best.

However, Gian Piero Gasperini saw something in him, and made him the reference point for his rising Atalanta.

Ever since, the 30-year-old has been one of the most feared strikers in Italy, combining his physical strength and underrated technical touch to score goals and create others for his teammates.

9- Edin Dzeko

The Bosnian may already be in the midst of the final seasons of his career, as the years have taken their toll on his legs.

However, the former Manchester City striker held Roma on his broad shoulders for several years, scoring 199 goals and providing 55 assists in his 260 appearances for the capital club.

Even at the age of 35, Dzeko could still have a major role to play for José Mourinho’s side, as replacing the towering target man can be a complicated task.

8- Fabio Quagliarella

The 38-year-old has been around for quite some time, traveling through several Serie A clubs, and is one of the most experienced center forwards in the game.

Whilst the Italian always had a knack for scoring astonishing goals, injuries at Juventus and personal problems at Napoli prevented him from playing at the highest levels.

Nonetheless, Quagliarella finished the 2018-19 as the league’s top scorer despite playing for a mid-table Sampdoria side.

7- Mauro Icardi

Between 2011 and 2018, the Argentine was one the deadliest center forwards in Serie A, while playing for Sampdoria and Inter, before leaving the Nerazzurri on a sour note in 2019.

Unlike some of the other stars on this list, Icardi is far from being an imposing physical phenomenon, but his shrewdness inside the box and sublime finishing touch allowed him to be a lethal target-man.

6- Romelu Lukaku

Despite only playing in Italy for two seasons, the Belgian’s exploits were enough to put him on the list, as he played a major role in Inter’s Scudetto triumph last season.

Blessed with unparalleled physical power, a blistering finishing touch and a stunning pace, the former Everton and Manchester United man is still growing from strength to strength, and is arguably the most terrifying striker in world football today.

5- Edinson Cavani

For the worldwide fans of the sport, Edinson Cavani is the deadly hard-working striker who spent his peak years at Paris Saint-Germain, and still is a decisive player for Manchester United despite his 34 years.

However, calcio fans will always remember the Uruguayan as the Matador who made his bones at Palermo before taking Serie A by storm during his three years at Napoli, scoring hat-tricks against the likes of Juventus, Roma, Milan and Inter.

The bomber formed a magical trio with Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi, taking the Partenopei to unprecedented heights since the days of Diego Maradona.

4- Antonio Di Natale

This pick could be a debatable one due to the fact that Di Natale played as a supporting striker for most of his career. Nonetheless, from 2010 and onward, the Udinese legend became the team’s main target man, and a brilliant one that.

Totò timed his runs perfectly and was able to score from every angle, becoming one of the most feared center forwards in Serie A, and he remains the last player to win the capocannoniere award (top scorer) for two seasons in a row.

3- Ciro Immobile

Speaking of the Top Serie A goalscorer award, here’s the only man on the list who won it three times, and at 31, he still has the opportunity to add more accolades to his personal trophy cabinet.

Despite being a Juventus youth product, Immobile won the award for the first time with the Bianconeri’s cross-town rivals, Torino.

After embarking on an underwhelming European adventure, the striker returned to Serie A, earning two more capocannoniere awards with Lazio, as well as the European Golden Shoe for his 36 goals in 2019-20.

2- Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The Swedish giant started the last decade at Milan, and even though he spent most it between Paris, Manchester and Los Angeles, his heart led him back towards the San Siro Stadium in 2020.

In 2011, Zlatan was the main reason behind Milan’s Scudetto victory – which remains their last until today. Although the Rossoneri were unable to defend their crown in the following season, Ibra still finished as the league’s top scorer.

Almost 40-years-old, the legendary striker is struggling to remain fit, and yet, his return to Milan last year was a game changer, starting a mini-revival for the Rossoneri.

1- Gonzalo Higuain

Some would role their eyes at some of Higuain’s recent versions – mainly the one who struggled during the short Milan stint – but  by that point, the Argentine had already done his damage on the Italian defenses.

The former Real Madrid man arrived to Napoli in 2013 as a major coup, and proved to be one the best center forwards at the time, as the Partenopei became Juve’s closest rivals thanks to his extraordinary campaign – setting a new Serie A record after scoring 36 goals.

El Pipita would then make a controversial move to Turin, where he shone for two seasons before being unsettled by the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo.

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