Who is your top forward of the season?

Ahead of this year’s Goal 50, we want to know who you think was the best attacking player during the 2012-13 season

POLL

The latest Goal 50 for 2012-13 is fast approaching as we review the best players from all regions of the world over the previous season.

This is the sixth edition of the prize, which has previously been won by current holder Cristiano Ronaldo (twice), Barcelona star Lionel Messi (twice) and Wesley Sneijder in 2010.

As part of the build-up to this year’s gong, we are running a series of polls asking readers to vote for their own best players in each position for what should be an intriguing debate.

After moving through your selections for goalkeeper, defender and midfielder we now put forward a number of high-profile candidates who can lay claim to having been the best forward in the world game over the last 12 months.

The obvious candidates are Messi and Ronaldo, who again enjoyed sensational individual seasons for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. The Argentine scored 60 goals in 50 games, while his Portuguese rival netted 55 times in as many appearances.

However, they are rivalled by Mario Mandzukic and Robert Lewandowski, who both enjoyed prolific campaigns for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund en route to the Champions League final.

Radamel Falcao’s superb form for Atletico Madrid helped them to third place in La Liga and a Copa del Rey triumph before his move to Monaco, where he will come up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was influential in Paris Saint-Germain’s successful campaign to become champions of France.

Robin van Persie’s form after moving to Manchester United from Arsenal was exceptional, while Luis Suarez was another standout striker in the Premier League for Liverpool.

In Italy, Mario Balotelli enjoyed a great spell in front of goal after joining AC Milan from Manchester City, while Edinson Cavani was a prolific frontman for Napoli as they finished second in Serie A.

HAVE YOUR SAY

In total we have 20 forward players up for your vote to decide on the best midfielder for the 2012-13 season. Let us know your thoughts by voting in our poll and leaving your comments below. You can also get in touch via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Hunger for titles motivated Bayern – Neuer

The Roten goalkeeper said all of his team-mates were eager all the more eager to win trophies in 2012-13 after two seasons without a major triumph

Manuel Neuer says Bayern Munich’s hunger for titles served as their motivation in their treble-winning season.

The Bavarians had gone two campaigns without a major title prior to 2012-13, when they triumphed in the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal and the Champions League.

And the Germany keeper says the entire squad has been left on a high by their exertions last term and is looking forward to the start of next season.

“We have always been keen on winning those three titles,” he told Kicker.

“Now we know how great you feel every morning, starting every day with a smile. The titles drive us and are a great motivation for the new season.”

Neuer has also been involved in a charity project called LitCam, teaming up with NBA star Dirk Nowitzki to help the children of his hometown Gelsenkirchen.

“The idea came from Dirk. We have much in common despite their different sports,” he explained.

“We are regarded as down to earth and connected to home and want to sponsor and support children who grow up in less fortunate circumstances.

“I am convinced that we have found a great project with LitCam that makes effective work for children and young people in my hometown of Gelsenkirchen.”

Neuer also voiced his pleasure with his club offering goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic a contract extension.

“Primarily, it is the decision of the club, whether it fits Bayern and how satisfied you are with his work. The coaching staff did a good job and it is obvious that his contract will be extended,” he added.

“Toni has a very important part in my development and thus also in the successes I had with the club. Therefore he is very important for us goalkeepers.”

It will be an honour to work with Guardiola, says Kirchhoff

The young defender is eagerly anticipating training under the former Barcelona coach and is keen to make the next step in his career

Bayern Munich signing Jan Kirchhoff has made it clear that he can hardly wait for the start of the new season as he is eager to work with Pep Guardiola at the German champions.

The Germany Under-21 international joined Bayern from Mainz on a free transfer this summer and has little doubt that training under Guardiola will help him make the next step in his development.

“I’m incredibly excited. Simply getting to know Pep Guardiola will be an honour and it’ll be an even greater honour to work for him,” the defender told the official Bayern website.

“I’m sure training will be outstanding. I can’t hide the fact that I’m really looking forward to it and I don’t want to. I’m so looking forward to this unbelievable challenge here at Bayern.

“It was time I faced a new challenge and took the next step. I wanted to leave my comfort zone in Mainz.”

Kirchhoff, 22, has signed a contract until June 2016 with Bayern.

Bayern not the new rulers of Europe, says De Boer

The Dutchman was impressed with the Bavarians’ performances throughout 2012-13, but feels it is too soon to claim they will dominate for years to come

Former Netherlands international Ronald de Boer feels it is premature to say Bayern Munich have dethroned Barcelona as the team to beat in Europe following their impressive 2012-13 campaign.

The Bavarian giants became the first German team in history to win the treble last term and beat Arsenal, Juventus, Barca and Borussia Dortmund on their way to European glory.

However, De Boer believes it is too early to say a changing of the guard has taken place.

“Bayern have the quality to beat anybody on their day. Bayern were playing exceptional football, to an incredibly high standard – week-in-week-out, over the entire season,” De Boer told the official Bundesliga website.

“In 2012-13 they were simply too good, even for Barcelona. They were superbly organised – it reminded me of our Ajax team back in 1995 – and had top-class players from front to back, each of them deploying his own special qualities for the good of the team.

“But I think it’s still a bit premature to be talking about a changing of the guard. Obviously, Barcelona are capable of beating Bayern – but they’ll need to be on top form themselves.”

The Dutchman then went on to discuss the arrival of Pep Guardiola as the club’s new head coach and stressed that the former Barcelona coach is the right man for the job.

“A successful treble defence wouldn’t be realistic. How often does something like that happen? For all the class in the world, it takes a bit of luck as well,” he continued.

“But one thing I am sure of: Bayern are in good hands over the years ahead.”

Pele: Bayern aren't the best team in Europe

The Brazilian refuses to accept the Bavarians as the greatest until they dominate for a few years, while saying Spain and Germany are the strongest nations in world football

Pele has refused to brand Bayern Munich as the greatest team in Europe despite their recent Champions League heroics.

They eliminated Serie A champions Juventus 4-0 on aggregate in the quarter-finals before annihilating Spanish giants Barcelona 7-0 in the last four, and they finished off the 2012-13 European campaign with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.

However, the Brazilian footballing legend does not think that one continental trophy is enough to justify calling the Bavarians the best in Europe though hinted his belief that incoming coach Pep Guardiola could see them deserve that tag.

“When you’re Champions League winners, it is not the same as being the best team in Europe,” he told SID.

“Bayern have to sustain success to show they are the best team in Europe. For about four or five years. Barcelona did this [recently] and Santos did it in my time, while Benfica, Ajax, AC Milan and Real Madrid had their respective golden eras.

“Bayern Munich are still far from being jewels of their time. Though perhaps they will succeed under new coach Pep Guardiola, who dominated when at Barca.”

Despite his scepticism towards Bayern, Pele does think that Germany are the strongest nation in football alongside current world champions Spain, but he is crossing his fingers that next year’s World Cup hosts and his home country, Brazil, can up their game in the coming 12 months.

“Today, one year before the World Cup, Spain and Germany have the best teams,” he added. “I hope that Brazil unlock their potential though.”

Brazil are currently hosting the Confederations Cup and won their opening game 3-0 against Japan. They play against Mexico on Wednesday, with kick-off at 21:00CET.