Is Harry Kane the best striker in the world?


Harry Kane has hit the ground running at Bayern Munich since his record transfer from Tottenham Hotspur. Is he the best striker in the world right now?

The England captain scored a hat-trick as Bayern beat Borussia Dortmund 4-0 in Der Klassiker, before taking his Bundesliga haul to 17 from 11 games against Heidenheim. He has also laid on five. 

With the UEFA Champions League added to the equation, he has 21 goals and seven assists in all competitions, plundered at a rate of one every 48 minutes he has played.

It is certainly an incredible start from the player who is Spurs' and England's record goalscorer, but who else might be in the conversation?

Watch: Highlights of Bayern's 4-0 win over Dortmund

Karim Benzema won the Ballon d'Or last year, former Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland was runner-up to Lionel Messi this. Messi's former Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappé has two FIFA World Cup finals - one of them victorious - to his name at 24.

Completing a neat top five might be a Kane predecessor at Bayern in Robert Lewandowski, the Polish goal-machine who fired Barcelona to the La Liga title last season, his first in Spain.


There could, of course, be others in the conversation. Former Wolfsburg man Victor Osimhen top-scored for Napoli as they won a first Serie A title in 33 years last season, and it was only last Saturday that Kane overtook VfB Stuttgart's 14-goal Serhou Guirassy in the race for this year's Torjägerkanone.

But last year was Osimhen's first plus 20-goal season, and while Guirassy might be backed to power through that barrier after making a goalscoring return from a thigh injury to hit his 15th of the season against Borussia Dortmund, he would only be on course for a maiden one of his own.

Serhou Guirassy hit 14 goals in eight games for Stuttgart before being sidelined with a thigh injury. - Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

If form is temporary, class permanent, they can perhaps be ruled out.

As can French pair Benzema and Mbappé. Brilliant players, both, former Real Madrid talisman Benzema is now playing in the Saudi Pro League alongside another who might once have dominated this conversation in Cristiano Ronaldo, while Mbappé, by his own admission, would rather play wide and deep off a target man. If he doesn't consider himself a No.9, why should we?

That, without design, leaves a podium of Bundesliga players past and present in Kane, Haaland and Lewandowski to consider.

Goalscoring numbers

Goals are generally the cold, hard currency by which strikers are judged, and this season Kane is out-stripping Haaland and Lewandowski. The Englishman's 21 are seven more than Haaland has for City and 15 more than Lewy at Barcelona.

However, they haven't all played the same amount of games. Kane has 21 from 16 games in all competitions, Haaland 15 from 17, and Lewandowski six from 13. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to work out that Kane is the most prolific, statistically.

An xG of five? Try 10.6! - Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

If this season alone is too small a sample size, pulling it back a year also looks impressive enough for Kane. Haaland smashed goalscoring records last term, hitting 52 from 53 in his first season at City, and Kane was admittedly behind that with 32 from 49 for Tottenham. Lewandowski had 33 in 46 for Barcelona.

So Kane was third-best by this measure last season, but he was also playing for the third-best team. City won the continental treble, Barca the aforementioned La Liga, and Spurs nothing. Indeed, they were seven places and 29 points behind Pep Guardiola's Premier League winners.

Who have the goals been against?

A cynic might point to Germany's UEFA coefficient being behind England's and Spain's at the moment, but there is no denying that Kane has been doing it in the biggest games: a hat-trick against Dortmund in his first Klassiker; a goal each against Bundesliga title aspirants Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig; and another against Manchester United in the Champions League for good measure.

Haaland has also scored against United - twice - but it is he who might be called the flat-track bully this term, with his other multiple-goals hauls coming against relegation-threatened Burnley and Fulham, and Young boys in Europe - not exactly Dortmund.

Lewandowski, by this measure, trails the field, his brace against basement-dwellers Celta Vigo in La Liga perhaps not assuaging the recent blank drawn against Real Madrid in El Clasico.

How may I assist you?

Kane isn't just a prolific scorer, with his seven provisions this season as many as Haaland (three) and Lewandowski (four) have put together. Kane assisted 14 in in the Premier League three years ago. Neither Haaland nor Lewy have ever bettered 10 in European top-flight campaign.

Haaland may be an underrated provider of goals, laying on eight in his final Dortmund season, while Lewandowski has hit the 10 mark three times in his career, but the nature of their assists also require closer inspection.

With Haaland in particular, his assists are often a knock-down in the box, or helping it on when his own chance has broken down. Lewandowski also spends the vast majority of the time as a penalty box predator, although he has a greater propensity to seek out the assist in the first place.

Watch: Kane under the tactical microscope

But neither drop deep and get involved in the build-up play quite as often as Kane, whose average position is significantly deeper than either. Five of Kane's assists this season have been for Leroy Sané, who is enjoying career-best form. He might explain Kane's game better than anyone.

"For our style of play it's important that we have a real No.9," he said recently. "But Harry also drops deep so that we can rotate well. I love moving from attacking midfield up front with pace - it's worked well with Harry a few times and with more games and training sessions it can definitely get better."

Overall impact 

Whilst it is clear that all three strikers are wonderful footballers, it is worth asking if they have improved their new (or newish) teams. Kane clearly has with last season's No.9 Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting reverting to the bench at Bayern with little complaint. Thomas Tuchel's side are undefeated in the Bundesliga and Champions League, and Kane is a large part of the reason why.

Haaland broke the Premier League's 34-goal single season record jointly held by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer since the mid-1990s last term, bagging two more, but City had won the league with 93 points compared to last year's 89 without a recognised striker the season before.

Leroy Sané (c.) looks rejuvenated alongside Kane (l.), with eight goals and four assists in 10 Bundesliga games this season. - Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

And compare Kane's effect on Sané to Haaland's relationship with Kevin De Bruyne - another former Bundesliga star. While Kane has lifted Sané's game, Haaland looks to have been dependent on De Bruyne's, with four goalless outings before the United brace as the Belgian watched on from the sidelines following groin surgery.

Super Harry

All three strikers remains world class, even if Lewandowski's output is beginning to slow at 35, and picking holes in their games is nit-picking, but given what Kane has brought to Bayern since arriving, and the consistency of his output, it is hard to look past him being the best No.9 in the world at the minute. 

He may have cost a club record fee for Bayern, but with every goal - some of them from the halfway line - he is beginning to make it look like a bargain.