Goal.com's countdown to the greatest player of 2008 continues with one of the most prolific goalscorers in world football Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who earned himself a dream move to Real Madrid with his goal flood at Ajax...
49 - Javier Zanetti - Internazionale, Serie A - Score: 1104
48 - Daniel Guiza - Fenerbahçe, Super Lig - Score: 1089
47 - Juninho Pernambucano - Olympique Lyonnais, Ligue 1 - Score: 1083
46 - Juan Román Riquelme - Boca Juniors, Argentine Apertura - Score: 1077
45 - Luca Toni - FC Bayern, Bundesliga - Score: 1064
44 - David Silva - Valencia, Primera Division - Score: 1060
42 (T) - Thierry Henry - Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1040
42 (T) - Daniel Alves - Sevilla, Primera Division / Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1040
41 - Antonio Cassano - Sampdoria, Serie A - Score: 1028
40 - Klaas-Jan Huntelaar - Ajax, Eredivisie / Real Madrid, Primera Division - Score: 1027
Real Madrid’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is undoubtedly one of the most prolific strikers in the world of football. He is an extremely talented individual, but it remains to be seen if he has what it takes to shine at the highest level as he used to score his goals in the lower rated Eredivisie.
Huntelaar was born in August 1983 and was raised in Drempt and commenced playing football at an early age. In his early teenage years he was fortunate enough to be spotted by De Graafschap scouts, and eventually made the move to Dutch giants PSV in 2000.
The prolific attacker played only one league match for the Eindhoven side, though, before being farmed out to De Graafschap and AGOVV. He impressed at the Apeldoorn side with 26 league goals in 35 matches, but PSV opted to sell him to Heerenveen instead of handing him first team football in Eindhoven.
Huntelaar proved PSV wrong to sell him when he netted 33 league goals in 46 appearances for Heerenveen. Amsterdam giants Ajax acknowledged his abilities and snapped him up for about €9.5 million at the age of 23.
Lots Of Goals In Amsterdam
Ajax's decision to splash the cash for Huntelaar quickly paid off as he scored 16 goals in 16 league matches in his first season and helped his side in winning the KNVB Beker with two goals against PSV in the cup final.
The strong forward wasn't as impressive in the 2006/2007 season as he was in his first season at Ajax, but he still managed to find the net 21 times in 32 league matches. Additionally, he helped Ajax to their second consecutive cup win with yet another goal in the KNVB Beker final.
Huntelaar rediscovered his scoring boots in the following season with 33 league goals in 34 matches. However, Ajax were unable to qualify for Champions League football or win the Dutch cup and the striker's season ended in a huge disappointment.
The former PSV youngster was widely expected to leave the Amsterdam side for a European giant last summer and Ajax already signed Dario Cvitanich as Huntelaar's replacement. However, big money offers from Valencia and Manchester City were turned down and The Hunter stayed in Amsterdam.
Meanwhile, Huntelaar succeeded Ruud van Nistelrooy as Holland's number one striker after the former Manchester United star announced his international retirement following the Oranje's surprising elimination in the quarter finals at Euro 08 against Russia. He has scored ten goals in 18 international appearances so far.
A rather disappointing start of this season resulted in just six goals from ten league matches before Huntelaar sustained an ankle injury. Nevertheless, he celebrated his 100th official strike ever for Ajax in the cup match against Utrecht and several big teams were still monitoring his transfer situation closely.
But Ruud van Nistelrooy's knee trouble at Real Madrid prompted the Spanish giants to line up a replacement for Van the Man and they eventually decided to make Huntelaar their primary target, despite his ankle ailment. Both sides agreed a transfer fee of €27 million and Huntelaar agreed personal terms on the same day.
Therefore, the prolific hit man will now score his goals for Real Madrid after the winter break if everything goes as expected for Huntelaar on his way to the absolute top.
2007/08 Eredivisie Top goalscorer (33 goals)
Finished third in 2008 European Golden Shoe
Stefan Coerts, Goal.com