6 under-the-radar attackers who could be good Golden Boot shouts
1. Artyom Dzyuba (Russia)
With six goals in the 2015/16 Champions League, Zenit striker Dzyuba has the pedigree required to make an impact at Euro 2016. His record isn’t too bad for Russia either, the 27-year-old having netted nine goals in his 18 international appearances.
Dzyuba combined with Hulk effectively for Zenit in the domestic top flight, netting 15 goals to put himself firmly in Slutsky’s plans for the summer. In France, he’ll be aiming to replace the outgoing Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Russia’s all-time top scorer who was left out of Slutsky’s squad.
The targetman popped up with an 85th-minute strike against Serbia in a recent friendly, and finds himself in a group which presents him with a shaky English backline, and teams in Slovakia and Wales who could afford him opportunities.
2. Andriy Yarmolenko (Ukraine)
Boasting 25 goals in 59 games for his country, Yarmolenko is Ukraine’s main source of danger.
After winning consecutive top-flight titles in his native country with Dynamo Kiev, the wideman has the competitive spirit to drag his team-mates towards the knockout stages, and the technical ability to interrogate whichever full-back is put in his path.
Yarmolenko has hit at least 11 goals in his last six consecutive domestic campaigns, and that consistency has found its way into his international performances too.
His club chairman is prepared to let his star man go this summer – as long as it’s to a suitor he deems suitable (sorry Stoke, apparently that’s not you) – so the 26-year-old Yarmolenko has the opportunity to impress in France. Northern Ireland are a Group C opponent.
3. Marc Janko (Austria)
The Basel striker enters Euro 2016 averaging a goal every two games for Austria, and after an unbeaten qualifying campaign his nation are favoured to finish second in Group F behind Portugal.
The 32-year-old will be hoping to sign off from international competition by adding to his 26 goals for Austria, more so given that the draw pitted Marcel Koller’s men against Iceland and Hungary.
Having netted 16 goals in 20 league appearances for Basel in 2015/16, after a prolific spell in Australia with Sydney FC, Janko is recapturing the form that earned him moves to Twente and Porto after a 39-goal season for Salzburg in 2008/09.
The experienced 6ft 5in beanpole will add power to the Austrian attack, and a focal point for the talented likes of David Alaba and Marko Arnautovic to provide their team-mate with the service required.
4. Nolito (Spain)
After playing a vital role in Celta Vigo’s qualification for the Europa League, Nolito was impossible to ignore for Vicente del Bosque as a potentially important influence for la Roja during Euro 2016.
In Vigo the Spaniard has found a comfortable home after a disappointing spell in Portugal with Benfica between 2011 and 2013. Nolito has settled into a goalscoring rhythm at Balaidos, managing 14, 13 and 12-goal tallies respectively over the last three seasons in La Liga.
Caps had been hard to come by for him up until this point, but braces against both South Korea and Bosnia during the last month have put the 29-year-old in with a fine chance of starting at what will likely be his last – and only – high-profile international tournament.
Armed with the ability to drift infield and embark on mazy dribbles towards the penalty area, Nolito showed his delicate side with a gorgeous chip over Asmir Begovic in a recent friendly. Spain should at least reach the semi-finals.
5. Mario Gomez (Germany)
The ex-Bayern Munich striker prompted plenty of folk to dust off the Gomez Button in 2015/16, after a loan switch to Besiktas inspired him to find his scoring touch once more.
After missing out on the 2014 World Cup squad due to a knee injury which contributed to a failed spell at Fiorentina, the 30-year-old found his way back with 26 goals in 33 Super Lig appearances for the Black Eagles as they claimed the title.
Gomez has scored eight goals in his last eight games in all competitions, with the ex-Stuttgart hitman also netting a consolation goal in Die Mannschaft’s recent 3-1 defeat against Slovakia.
It remains to be seen, however, whether Joachim Low will fit Gomez into his starting plans: at this stage, it’s not looking like physicality will trump the false-nine option of Bayern Munich’s Mario Gotze.
6. Kolbeinn Sigthorsson (Iceland)
At the mere age of 26, Sigthorsson already finds himself hot on the heels of Iceland’s top goalscorer Eidur Gudjohnsen, currently trailing the ex-Chelsea hero by six.
Former Ajax man Sigthorsson comes into the summer as Iceland’s main goalscoring threat, and vital to their potential success alongside captain Gylfi Sigurdsson. Group F could prove to be the perfect hunting ground with Hungary in particular looking unlikely to cause too much trouble, Austria relatively untried at this level and Portugal’s ageing centre-backs a potential weak spot.
Sigthorsson may have taken what can be seen as a professional step down to ply his trade for French club Nantes, where the goals have dried up somewhat, but impressive goalscoring records at both Ajax and AZ show that there is existing quality despite an injury-hampered last few years.
- GUIDE TO EURO 2016 The lowdown on all 24 teams and more with FFT