Official! The 10 players with the best minutes-per-goal ratio in Premier League history
Goals per game? Pah. An amateur measurement – only by ranking players via goals/time on the pitch can we really tell who the Premier League's most deadly marksmen are
With the news that Barcelona striker Sergio Aguero has decided to hang up his boots, a reminder of the Argentine's supernatural ability to stick the ball in the onion bag during a glittering decade at Manchester City is in order.
With 186 Premier League goals, he undoubtedly belongs to the greatest goal scorers in the competition's history – but where does he stand in the more important stat: minutes per goal? We've used only those who have scored 30+ goals, so as to weed out the anomalies. He's in sensational company...
10. Alan Shearer - 147 mins per goal (260)
It shouldn’t be a surprise to see the Premier League’s top goalscorer in this list, but Shearer’s job wasn’t easy when Newcastle were a bottom-half side for five of his 10 seasons there.
Though 58 penalties add gloss to his 260-goal tally, Shearer’s hit rate is nonetheless impressive, especially at Blackburn: 112 goals in 138 league games is extraordinary.
9. Diego Costa - 145 mins per goal (52)
On two occasions Diego Costa scored 20 goals in helping Chelsea to win the Premier League; once under Jose Mourinho and once under Antonio Conte. Between those triumphs, he went on a scoring spree under substitute teacher Mr Hiddink. Diego and Guus, showin' him how to play, H-I-D-D-I-N-K...
8. Edin Dzeko - 142 mins per goal (50)
Dzeko’s Manchester City career was more frustrating than the numbers suggest.
Despite offering a consistent goal threat (2011/12: 14 goals at 107 minutes per goal; 2012/13: 14 goals at 130; 2013/14: 16 goals at 125), he was just as consistently benched. Even when the Bosnian equalised as a sub against QPR, Sergio Aguero scored the title-clinching winner. Fitting.
7. Robin van Persie - 140 mins per goal (144)
At his (relatively late) peak, Van Persie was a penalty-box striker so deadly that Alex Ferguson broke his own rules and spent £24m on a 29-year-old.
The Dutchman already had a healthy hit rate at Arsenal, before his 30-goal campaign in his final season there took him to Manchester United. A second Golden Boot and a first Premier League title followed.
6. Luis Suarez - 139 mins per goal (69)
The Uruguayan’s minutes-per-goal ratio for Liverpool was improved by his preposterous final year, 2013/14, in which he matched the 38-game Premier League season record of 31 goals and could’ve passed 40 had he been on penalty duties (Steven Gerrard took 11 across the campaign).
With another dozen assists, Suarez contributed to a goal every 69 minutes that season. Nice.
5. Harry Kane - 128 mins per goal (167)
Kane’s Premier League scoring rate has slowed down this season – he has just one strike in 13 appearances to far. That has pushed him further down this list than he might have otherwise been. After season-on-season returns of 21, 25, 29, 30, 17, 18 and 23 goals since the 2013/14 season.
4. Ruud van Nistelrooy - 128 mins per goal (95)
Van Nistelrooy is perhaps unfortunate to be considered a good striker rather than a great one, because a 12-year peak return of 75 goals in 91 games for PSV, 150 in 219 for Manchester United and 64 in 96 for Real Madrid is pretty darn reasonable.
Goals aren’t a striker’s only currency. Nonetheless, Van Nistelrooy offered a very competitive exchange rate.
3. Mo Salah - 127 mins per goal (111)
In 2014, an unusually busy January saw Chelsea sell Kevin De Bruyne and Juan Mata while buying Nemanja Matic and Mo Salah. When the latter left Chelsea, it followed two goals in nine hours of football – which is why he isn’t a distant first here. Because, almost unbelievably, Salah is averaging a Premier League goal every 125 minutes for Liverpool, having scored 22, 19, 22 and 32 in his first four full seasons at Anfield. At the rate he's going, we may have a new leader someday.
2. Thierry Henry - 122 mins per goal (175)
To average a goal for every two hours of Premier League football played is impressive; to maintain such a rate across eight years is imperious. To do that while setting a since-matched-but-yet-to-be-broken record for most assists in a season (20 in 2002/03) is taking the piss, frankly.
1. Sergio Aguero - 108 mins per goal (184)
As superb as Henry and Salah have been in the past, it’s only right that our number one is a player who made a whopping 275 Premier League appearances.
We don’t know what’s the more incredible statistical achievement for Aguero: to hit such heights that in Manchester City’s 2013/14 title triumph he averaged a goal every 90 minutes and a goal contribution every 67, or to generally score so many in the league (184) at such a consistent rate for so long.
Aguero has now announced he is hanging up his boots, bring to an end a sensational career. He won't be missed by Barcelona fans, but City supporters will be singing his name for decades to come.
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Huw was on the FourFourTwo staff from 2009 to 2015, ultimately as the magazine's Managing Editor, before becoming a freelancer and moving to Wales. As a writer, editor and tragic statto, he still contributes regularly to FFT in print and online, though as a match-going #WalesAway fan, he left a small chunk of his brain on one of many bus journeys across France in 2016.
By Conor Pope
By Conor Pope