Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Kane, the three-season wonder, was at it again in 2016/17. In fact, this was probably his best year yet: 29 goals in only 30 appearances, including seven in Tottenham’s final two games. That was enough to see him win the Golden Boot, fighting off strong competition from Everton's Romelu Lukaku, Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez and Chelsea's Diego Costa to end the campaign top of the goalscoring charts for the second time in his short Premier League career.
It's still not entirely clear why many are reluctant to call Kane one of the best centre-forwards in European football, but that's exactly what he is and there should be no arguing with his excellent numbers. A consistently brilliant goalscoring record invalidates any suggestion that this term was simply another example of a hot streak, while Kane's overall game is well-rounded enough for him to avoid being pigeonholed as a penalty-box poacher and nothing else.
Edging out his rivals
Still, it's evidently his finishing ability that sets him apart from most of his peers. As well as scoring more goals than Lukaku, Sanchez and Costa, Kane's 26.4% conversion rate was also better than the equivalent figures of all three, and the fact that he scored 18 of his big chances is further evidence of his clinical edge in front of goal.
Moreover, even though Sanchez, Sergio Aguero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Costa took more shots than the Tottenham man, Kane hit the target more often than any other forward, with 58 of his attempts forcing the opposition goalkeeper into action.
As well as keeping rival shot-stoppers busy, Kane was also effective when it came to fashioning scoring opportunities for his Tottenham team-mates. Of those players who were predominantly deployed through the middle, only Sanchez (10) provided more assists than the England international (seven), who also created a total of 41 chances – fewer than only Lukaku, Ibrahimovic, Sanchez, Diego Costa and Roberto Firmino.
The focal point
The one area where Kane is comfortably beaten by several others is dribbles attempted and completed, but that statistic is a reflection of his playing style more than anything else – the 23-year-old stands at 6ft 2in and serves as a focal point for his side at the top of the pitch. Rather than attempting to go past defenders, his primary task – aside from scoring goals – is to hold up the ball and bring others into play, so it's hardly a surprise that he scores lower than the likes of Aguero, Costa and Lukaku for take-ons.
As some of the numbers detailed above suggest, Sanchez pushed Kane all the way in this category, but the Spurs striker ultimately squeezed past his north London adversary by virtue of a superior scoring record.
Tools like Stats Zone allow us to quantify a wider range of in-game events than ever before, but putting the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis remains the most important thing any centre-forward can do for his team. Kane, in that light, fully deserves this award.
Stats Zone Awards winners
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