The best among false 9s in football in the passing 2022–23 season have been ranked.
False nines are a tactical innovation that has revolutionized the traditional striker role. This striker is unlike traditional center-forwards, who operate as a target man.
A false nine is not just a striker but is also known for his versatility and ability to drop deep into midfield and create confusion for opposing defenses.
In a game where these tactics are employed, the false nines are expected to often drift into wider areas or even midfield to link up play and initiate attacks.
Here is a list of the best false 9s in football in 2023:
5 Roberto Firmino – Liverpool
Roberto Firmino has been acting as a catalyst for Liverpool’s attacking cohesion and overall fluidity, especially with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane leading the attack for Liverpool. Salah and Mane were so effective in Liverpool’s forward line because of how well Firmino played behind them. This season, although Firmino has not been a regular starter in the Reds' team, the Brazilian has managed to put up pretty respectable numbers.
4 Cody Gakpo – Liverpool
This is another player who has become a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s False 9. Cody Gakpo moved to Anfield from PSV Eindhoven in the January transfer window of 2023. Overall, Gakpo has had a mixed start to his Liverpool career. The Dutchman has since grown into his role as a false nine at Liverpool. He has made 25 appearances for the Reds, scoring six goals and providing three assists.
3 Thomas Muller – Bayern Munich
The German international has demonstrated his effectiveness as a false nine. Müller has excelled when deployed as a false nine. Muller has scored eight goals and provided 12 assists in 39 appearances in all competitions for Bayern Munich so far this season.
2 Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid
The Frenchman is widely regarded as the very best in this position. He is used to playing as a center-forward in a false nine role. The Frenchman has been in excellent form for Atletico Madrid this season in 45 appearances across all competitions, scoring 14 goals.
1 Lionel Messi – Paris Saint-Germain
The Argentina international and World Cup winner is often regarded as one of the greatest false nines in football history. Messi exploits spaces between opposition midfielders and defenders, creating scoring opportunities for himself or his teammates with this tactical approach. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored 20 goals and provided 20 assists in 39 appearances across all competitions for PSG so far this season.