When you judge how good a striker is, do you think about how good they are as a footballer or as a finisher? In our first edition of No Splinters, which gives our individual takes on football’s hot topics, the Semi-Pro team give their thoughts on what makes a good number 9.

It can be a contentious topic, with strikers described in lots of different ways, some as game linkers, some as target men and some as pure finishers. But do these different roles and the skills they use to do these things have any impact on how they are viewed as a striker, or should quite simply strikers be judged on the goals they score? 

All nine semi pro members discuss in the first edition of No Splinters… 

James Hamilton: “I feel like the job of a striker is to score goals and to create chances for other members of the team so obviously, naturally anyone is going to judge a striker with goals scored and assists. Secondly though, their actual all round play has to be of a decent level to be able to be labelled as one of the great strikers.

“If you look at the likes of Harry Kane, he is a great striker mainly because his goals scored and his contribution to the overall game is significantly more than strikers that won’t be labelled in the same bracket as him.” 

Zak Wright: “It depends how many goals they are getting, if they are like just a penalty box striker that lives off close range finishes and tap ins but are only doing that, then they need to be getting a significant number of goals.

“If they are getting around 15ish goals which on the face of it is a decent number but I’m not sure it’s enough as in this day and age you do need a striker that can do a bit of everything.”

Dan Platts: “This does my head in this, as someone that plays upfront themselves, you need service and you should get judged on goals, this is why stats matter. People complain that Haaland isn’t a good player or he’s not as good as Mbappe but when he’s the European top scorer and literally wins Manchester City everything and then doesn’t get the Ballon D’or , explain that to me?

“You don’t finish top scorer and not get the awards just because you don’t do as many skills as someone else. It is about goals.”

Charlie Howell: “Oh the goals they score, they could be the worst player on the planet, they could touch the ball three times a game for all I care if those touches are goals or shots on target.

“A team should work for the striker, the striker shouldn’t work for the team and if the striker doesn’t score goals he isn’t a very good striker.” 

Josh Brewer: “At the end of the day, goals win games and if my striker is scoring goals then my team has a much better chance of winning games of football. I understand the point about strikers linking up play and things like that but if they are dropping deep too often it leaves you light at the top end of the pitch.

“At the same time if all your striker does is score and then goes on a dry spell, you are in trouble. Having said that, I would rather have a striker that scores and doesn’t link up play than a striker that links up play but doesn’t score. “

Owen Barnard: “It has to be an all round game doesn’t it, look I listen to some very uneducated people talk about “world class strikers” and how those that drop in a little bit can’t be very good. It’s an all round game and yes it is easy to judge on goals and assists and of course that is what counts at the end of the day but a striker should create chances as well as score them.

“When people ask me who is better between Kane and Haaland, I tell them to stop asking me silly questions (Kane).”

Oliver Haley: “All round play, easy because if you’re judging a striker realistically you want them to do more than just score tap ins, you want them to be able to link up play, you want them to be able to drop deep and be the full package. Goals are obviously a major part. Yes, you can’t be a good striker without scoring goals, but all round play is a very close second to goals scored.” 

Alex Keir: “Being a Spurs fan, I have been watching Harry Kane for the last 10 years of my life, so I normally go for the complete striker aspect. People can talk about the Haalands of the world, and they are very good, but someone like that gets so many chances, but doesn’t necessarily make them a good finisher and you look at the wider perspective.

“If a striker gets 30 chances and finishes 10 then that doesn’t necessarily make them a good striker. Also I believe has more of a role in the team than just scoring chances, many strikers drop to the half-way line and help the team. The goals scored are a bonus. “

Nathan Barcio: “I think it depends on the level of football that you are playing at, in the modern game I think the striker is judged more and more on things he does outside of the goalscoring phase. Firmino when he was at Liverpool comes to mind. 

Former Manchester United full-back and Sky Sports Pundit Gary Neville weighing in on the debate while covering Arsenal earlier this month.

“I think lower down the pyramid though you want a striker that will score you goals and win you games. Things like instinct and being in the right place at the right time which is something that is incredibly valuable.” 

So there we have it. No sitting on the fence. It is tight, but I think Semi Pro is siding with judging strikers through their all round play but it is clearly a contentious topic…