In the wake of Miroslav Kloses retirement, Bayer Leverkusens Champions League tie with Tottenham showcases another gifted with rare talents of movement and anticipation
There are many things in football that are incredibly beautiful. Lionel Messi at full flow. A Dimitri Payet free-kick. Or, indeed, a simple toe poking, such as Ronaldinhos against Chelsea back in 2005.
The list is long. We can marvel at warm-ups( Diego Maradona with Opus in the background is a classic ), crossfield passes or even sliding tackles. Not to mention nutmegs. Wonderful things.
But for some reason we seem to find it more difficult to appreciate a clinical goalscorer. Take Miroslav Klose, the Germany striker who announced his retirement from football the coming week to go into coaching. He scored goals throughout his career: an astounding 71 in 137 games for Germany, beating Gerd Mllers 40 -year-old record in 2014 to become our own countries best marksman of all time.
He scored 121 times in the Bundesliga in 307 games for Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich before adding another 55 goals in 139 appearances for Lazio in Serie A an unstoppable, lanky objective machine who could be relied upon to win games week in, week out.
Yet for all the goals he will never be considered as one of the best in the world by the wider populace. It seems a little bit harsh because, after all, goals are the most important thing in football, the one thing that actually decides who wins a game.
Kloses achievements, however, has probably been undermined by the fact that his goals or in fact his whole game were not all that aesthetically pleasing. His goals were tap-ins, they were close-range headers the latter are scrappy.
But to dismiss Kloses goals as ugly is to ignore the beauty of a goalpoachers best attributes: find space and foreseeing where the ball will fell. Fewer and fewer players seem capable of seeming behind a defenders back to knock in the ball from two yards.
There are exceptions of course and Javier Hernndez, whose Bayer Leverkusen face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the Champions League on Wednesday night, is one of those players who has a wonderful sense of is available on the right place at the right time.
Hernndez is in his second season at Leverkusen now and has scored 22 times in 36 league games. This season he already has seven from 13 games in all rivalries. And every time you look at those stats you wonder what on ground possessed Manchester United to first loan him out to Real Madrid for the 2014 -1 5 season and then sell him to Leverkusen the following summer. For 7.3 m.
True, there were times when Chicharito was given a chance in Uniteds starting XI and did not impress but the overall figures from his time at Old Trafford are 59 goals in 156 games. That sets him in the top 10 of United strikers when it comes to goals per minutes in the league over the past 20 years. How Jos Mourinho could use a poacher with Hernndezs strike rate at the moment.
Is Hernndez, too, a victim of footballs inability to appreciate natural goalscorers? Would he have thrived at Old Trafford if Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes or Louis van Gaal had given him an extended run in the team? His performances for Leverkusen suggest he would have done.
He arrives in London for the game against Spurs at Wembley as Leverkusens focal point in attack, a threat to Mauricio Pochettinos hopes of inducing it through to the knockout phase. At Leverkusen he has finally find a home in Europe where he feels appreciated.
The Leverkusen sporting director, Rudi Vller, told after the Mexicans hat-trick against Mainz in September that he certainly doesnt win every tackle but he has an incredible sense of where the ball will end up. His team-mate, Kevin Volland, who joined from Hoffenheim in the summer, told: I have never seen a player who is so good in front of goal.
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