The golden race
We’re halfway through the European football season and league tables aren’t the only rankings beginning to take shape. The coveted European Golden Boot has been dominated by the Ronaldo-Messi axis over the last decade, with the Argentine currently aiming to be named as Europe’s most prolific marksman for a third consecutive season.
Is he on track? Bear in mind as we run through the current top 10 that each league is assigned a difficulty factor between one and two by UEFA that determines players’ points. For example, the ‘big five’ leagues are assigned a factor of two that means each goal counts for two points, while tied players are separated by their game-to-goal ratio...
10. Robert Skov (FC Copenhagen) - 27 pts
18 goals in 20 games
FC Copenhagen’s efforts to restore their league crown, which they lost to Midtjylland last season, have been greatly helped by the form of promising youngster Skov.
The Denmark Under-21 international arrived from Silkeborg in January last year, but the one league goal he mustered in the second half of the 2017/18 campaign did nothing to suggest the explosion that was on the way.
The 22-year-old right winger began the season in decent form, scoring three in his opening nine games, but it was towards the end of September that he really started purring with 15 goals in his last 11 games, including two hat-tricks in his last three outings. Remember the name…
9. Nikolay Komlichenko (Mlada Boleslav) - 27 pts
18 goals in 18 games
What do you mean, 'Who?!' It’s unlikely that even the most optimistic Mlada Boleslav fan would have predicted the sensational start to the season made by Russian striker Komlichenko, who has shot to the top of the Czech top flight’s scoring charts.
The 23-year-old former Krasnodar front man and former Russia youth international didn’t tear up any trees in his debut season last year, finding the net just four times.
Thankfully, his club retained faith and have been rewarded with a goal-a-game ratio from the youngster in the first half of the season, which has included two hat-tricks and resulted in reported interest from Turkish giants Besiktas.
8. Harry Kane (Tottenham) - 28 pts
14 goals in 22 games
Kane’s remarkable reliability in front of goal hasn’t abated one bit this season, with the England skipper again proving crucial to Spurs’ hopes.
It’s no secret that the 25-year-old’s goal haul has grown every year in the Premier League, though he'll have an almighty job to better last season’s 30-goal mark after picking up an untimely injury.
The Spurs icon has followed up his World Cup Golden Boot with more impressive performances outside of England too, scoring four times in the Champions League group stage to help Spurs into the last 16.
7. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) - 28 pts
14 goals in 22 games
It was always going to be difficult to live up to the dream debut season, in which Salah won the Premier League Golden Boot, but the Egyptian has continued to deliver for league leaders Liverpool in 2018/19.
December was a memorable month as the Egyptian bagged six league goals, including a hat-trick at Bournemouth, before being named African Footballer of the Year for the second year in a row.
Last year his form pushed Jurgen Klopp’s side all the way to a Champions League final. This year, he’s on course to fire his team to their first ever Premier League title.
6. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) - 28 pts
14 goals in 22 games
Unai Emery’s efforts to steer the Good Ship Arsenal through the uncertain seas of post-Wenger life have been greatly helped by the form of his fleet-footed Frenchman.
After hitting double figures in half a season following his January move from Borussia Dortmund this time last year, Aubameyang began the new campaign in similar fashion by scoring 14 goals to joint-lead the Premier League scoring charts.
The Gabon international has scored four braces this term, including a crucial pair of goals in the Gunners’ 4-2 North London derby win over Tottenham at the start of December.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) - 28 pts
14 goals in 19 games
Ronaldo’s slow start to life in Serie A – by his high standards - has left him with some work to do if he hopes to draw level with Messi on five Golden Boot awards by the end of the season.
The Portuguese forward’s detractors had a good chuckle when Juve’s £105m man failed to find the net in his first three games for the club. However, they soon shuffled into the shadows when his brace against Sassuolo began a scoring streak that took the 33-year-old to the summit of the scoring charts in time for the New Year bells. Never rule him out.
4. Luis Suarez (Barcelona) - 28 pts
14 goals in 18 games
Twice a winner of this award: firstly at Liverpool in 2013/14 when he shared the prize with Ronaldo, and then again at Barcelona two years later, Suarez has his sights set on a third gong.
He became only the second player since 1994 (alongside Lionel Messi, of course) to score a Clasico hat-trick when he put Barça’s rivals to the sword in stunning fashion during their 5-1 win at the Camp Nou in October.
Suarez hasn't slowed down since the turn of the year either, plundering three goals in his opening two league games of 2019 against Getafe and Eibar – although one blot on his record is that he’s yet to net in the Champions League this term.
3. Kylian Mbappe (PSG) - 28 pts
14 goals in 13 games
European football’s golden boy has followed up a superb World Cup showing with a fast start to the new season in France.
It’s remarkable to think that Mbappe is still just 20 years old, but his ascendancy has continued in style this term with 13 Ligue 1 goals, including four in an astonishing 14-minute spell against Lyon in October.
PSG remain unbeaten in France this season and have already built up a seemingly unassailable 13-point lead at the summit of the table. Given Mbappe’s low game time in comparison with his competitors, he might fancy his chances at moving further up this list by the summer.
2. Mbaye Diagne (Kasimpasa) - 30 pts
20 goals in 17 games
The Senegalese striker has come out of nowhere this season to thrill the Turkish Super Lig with a stunning first half to the campaign.
He has elevated himself to a lofty position in the race for the Golden Boot, despite the Turkish top flight’s difficulty factor of 1.5 pts per goal. Formerly on the books at Juventus, he never made a senior appearance for the Old Lady and has undertaken a journeyman career since that has taken him to Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Hungary and China before his arrival at Kasimpasa this time last year.
The 27-year-old’s 20-goal haul so far has helped his side reach the lofty heights of fourth place, as well as earning him links with the likes of Chelsea and Newcastle United this month.
1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - 34 pts
17 goals in 17 games
There is simply no stopping the Argentine wizard, who continues to hit the net with alarming regularity, scoring 17 so far this season to go with his 11 assists.
The 31-year-old currently averages a goal every 81 minutes in La Liga, and that drops to one every 50 minutes in the Champions League, where he has already struck six times in just four group games.
Barça’s No.10 already leads arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo by one Golden Boot in the all-time list with five wins, and is well on course to becoming the first player ever to win three in a row.