43. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
The inclusion of Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in this list should come as no surprise at all, with the Gabonese hitman throwing down the best goalscoring tally of his career. A 16/17 season filled to the brim with uncertainty amid coaching drama, one light that remained flickering among the darkening skies over Dortmund was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Aubameyang finished the Bundesliga as top scorer with 31 goals in 32 games, pipping Bayern’s Lewandowski to the Törjagerkanone by a single goal with the brace against Werder Bremen on the final matchday of the Bundesliga season. The matchday started with Lewandowski on 30 goals and Aubameyang on 29 and ended with Lewandowski remaining on 30, and Aubameyang moving up to 31. He ended the season with 40 goals in all competitions for Dortmund, his best ever return in a single campaign.
The mercurial man from Gabon has a skillset that is something of a renaissance among European strikers. He combines all the features of the classic no.9 with elements of his own. A man known for his flashy personality off the pitch, he certainly has the on-field style to match. The winger-turned-forward bases his game around the tools in his arsenal he is so incredibly proficient at utilising, one being his frightening pace, another being his excellent positioning and movement fuelled by his cunning reading of the game and one being his natural finishing ability.
Aubameyang is quite possibly the quickest no.9 in world football, and he uses this perfectly by occupying different areas across the front three that are not necessarily open. He uses his natural physical presence to spin off of his marker once a through ball is played, this eliminates the challenge from the defender and leaves him with space he has just intelligently created, to run into. If you get into a foot race with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, there is little to no chance you will prevail as the victor.
The 27 year-old can easily be described as a “final touch” striker where his teammates work their way into feeding him opportunities and he dispatches them coolly, often with no more than two touches. This old fashioned style is aided by Aubameyang’s excellent reading of the game, he is always assessing his teammates actions and tries to offer himself as an option where his infinite willingness to run for his team and his ever so slick movement in the box create openings which he dispatches with precision accuracy. His clever positioning and assassin like finishing from close range have meant all 72 goals he has scored over the past three seasons in the Bundesliga have come from inside the box. He is ALWAYS in the right position.
Many cast aspersions on the Dortmund man for being too “one dimensional”, but he is most certainly able to use all the weapons he has at his disposal, being one of four players in Europe’s top 5 leagues to score 5+ goals with his left foot, right foot and his head. He also scored the most headed goals in the Bundesliga this season, with 6.
Another reason many tend to denounce him is that he is apparently “too wasteful”. However, these are more ill-founded claims as the Gabonese striker scored more clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities than any other player in the Bundesliga this season (25). In a league holding arguably the best no.9 in world football, that’s a stat that should clear any groundless misconceptions.
In an eventful Dortmund season, Aubameyang maintained equilibrium all the way to the final stretch, cementing his position as one of the best pure goalscorers on the planet.