Football News

Harry Kane or Erling Haaland? Thomas Muller makes his pick for the “top” striker in the world

By Harry Edwards

Published: 16:47, 15 January 2024

Thomas Muller has dubbed Bayern Munich teammate Harry Kane as the best striker in the world, ahead of Manchester City’s Erling Haaland.

Kane made his long-awaited move away from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, although it wasn’t to another Premier League club, leaving England altogether. Bayern Munich was the destination, and Kane has been thriving in the Bundesliga.

Bayern made their return from the winter break at the weekend, beating Hoffenheim 3-0 to remain four points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen with a game in hand. Kane has played all 16 of Bayern’s Bundesliga matches, and he has only failed to score three times.

The first was in his third game against Borussia Dortmund, before also failing in a 3-0 win over Freiburg and 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt. But he did still manage an assist against Freiburg, only failing to be directly involved in a goal in two matches.

And, of course, he isn’t just scoring a goal a game. Kane has three hat-tricks and two braces, helping his total tally for the season to 22 goals. That’s already more than the Bundesliga top scorers last season — Niclas Fullkrug and Christopher Nkunku — managed with their 16 strikes, and enough to win the Torjägerkanone in nine different seasons this century.

Kane scored 18 goals in his first 12 Bundesliga games, a new league record, and with his five assists has reached 27 direct goal involvements quicker than any other player in Bundesliga history. For goals alone, Kane is five clear of his closest rival Serhou Guirassy, who was having a record-breaking season in his own right.

Top of the Bundesliga charts and still performing at his peak, many rank Kane among the best strikers in the world right now, but is he the top? Another striker commonly regarded as the best is Haaland. The Norwegian, who previously played in the Bundesliga, is currently wiping the floor with Premier League defences — though he is taking a short break due to injury. For quick reference, Haaland’s best goalscoring season in the Bundesliga saw him net 27 goals, before bagging 22 in his final campaign.

Of course, Kane and Haaland faced off in the Premier League last season, as the Norwegian broke the record for most goals in a single season, scoring 36. Sitting six goals behind him, and the only other player even close to Haaland, was Kane who had had his joint-best scoring campaign in the Premier League.

Make your own comparisons with the Comparison Matrix

This season, though, Kane is looking to come out on top. Looking at goals scored per 90 minutes, Haaland is averaging 1 in the Premier League this season, but Kane is blowing that out of the water at 1.5 goals per 90 minutes. In a further comparison, Kylian Mbappe averages 1.3 goals per 90, and Serie A top scorer Lautaro Martinez averages 1.1 per 90. Robert Lewandowski often finds himself in the conversation as the best striker in the world, but he’s having an underwhelming season, scoring 0.6 goals per 90.

Impressively for Kane, while he became known for netting penalties at Tottenham, even when you take out goals from the spot, he is averaging 1.3 per 90. He also betters Haaland for goals from inside the box, outside the box and headed goals per 90 minutes.

Kane’s conversion rate of 42.31% is also incomparable to the aforementioned strikers, with Lautaro Martinez closest at 39.13% conversation. Haaland and Mbappe are similar in the 28%. A natural creator in his later years too, Kane averages 1.3 chances created per 90 minutes — bettered only by Mbappe’s 1.6 — but leads the way with 0.4 assists per 90, totally at five overall.

And Muller, who has enjoyed playing with Kane this season, believes he stands out as the best.

“Who else do we have as competitors? Erling Haaland is of course great too, but they are different types of players,” Muller told Sport Bild.

“For me, Harry is at the top of the current strikers. Harry is a footballer with every fibre of his being. He understands the game.

“Firstly, he knows where the dangerous spaces are. Secondly, he sees immediately: what can his team-mate do, where are his strengths? He doesn’t play balls bluntly from A to B, there is always an idea behind it.”