Europe’s top 20 goalscorers: Messi still rules

Ian Watson

We’re talking big five leagues and we’re talking all competitions. These are the best of the best in 2018…


20) Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim) – 22 goals
Games played: 37
Minutes per goal: 125
The Croatia striker finished the year strongly, with his opener against Man City in the Champions League in December the last of a run of nine goals in nine matches. If Hoffenheim were tempted to sell Kramaric, they can expect a huge profit on the £5million they paid Leicester in 2016.


19) Alassane Plea (Nice & Borussia Monchengladbach) – 23 goals
Games played: 38
Minutes per goal: 135
Eleven goals in the second half of last season caught the eye of Newcastle, Tottenham and West Ham but the 25-year-old opted to join ‘Gladbach, where he has maintained that goalscoring with 12 more in the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal.


18) Cristhian Stuani (Girona) – 23 goals
Games played: 33
Minutes per goal: 115
Only Lionel Messi has scored more goals than the former Middlesbrough winger in La Liga, where Stuani has netted 11 goals in 15 appearances. At this rate, he is on course to beat his 21-goal haul from last season.


17) Sergio Aguero (Man City) – 23 goals
Games played: 33
Minutes per goal: 104
At one point it seemed like Gabriel Jesus would be the end of Aguero at City. The Argentina centre-forward has had to adapt his game somewhat but with 13 goals and four assists this term, he is now firmly back in favour as Pep Guardiola’s first-choice striker.


16) Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) – 24 goals
Games played: 45
Minutes per goal: 124
Of the 24 goals Bale has netted in 2018, 17 came in the second half of last season. The Wales star broke his longest-ever goalless streak in La Liga in December following a 40-shot, 802-minute barren run.


15) Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 24 goals
Games played: 38
Minutes per goal: 89
Only Messi on this list has a better minutes-per-goal rate than the Serbia centre-forward, who leads the race for the Bundesliga Golden Boot with Borussia Dortmund’s Paco Alcacer. Jovic has already surpassed his Bundesliga total for last term while also netting five times for Frankfurt in the Europa League.


14) Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan) – 25 goals
Games played: 37
Minutes per goal: 126
The Italy striker got off to a slow start this term after finishing last season as the joint-top scorer in Serie A. But after netting against Spurs on September 18, Icardi has scored 13 goals in 18 league and Champions League appearances.


13) Edinson Cavani (PSG) – 25 goals
Games played: 38
Minutes per goal: 121
The Uruguay striker has scored 10 goals in 11 Ligue appearances this term. If Cavani is trying to catch Maurizio Sarri’s eye, reports suggest he succeeded


12) Kylian Mbappe (PSG) – 25 goals
Games played: 38
Minutes per goal: 118
With the Ligue 1 season at its halfway point, Mbappe has already matched his tally from the whole of last term. His 13 goals have come in 12 games at a rate of one every 71 minutes.


11) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – 25 goals
Games played: 37
Minutes per goal: 116
Aubameyang moved to the Emirates late in January and all of his goals this year have come in an Arsenal shirt. The Gabon star has netted 13 times in the Premier League this term, keeping pace with Mo Salah and Harry Kane despite alternating between central and left-wing roles.


10) Neymar (PSG) – 26 goals
Games played: 26
Minutes per goal: 88
The Brazilian is leading the hotly-contested leading scorer competition at PSG, with 16 goals edging him ahead of Mbappe. Neymar would be much closer to where he feels he belongs on this list had he not missed 18 games through injury at the back end of last season.


9) Ciro Immobile (Lazio) – 29 goals
Games played: 46
Minutes per goal: 127
After finishing last season as joint-top scorer in Serie A alongside Icardi, Immobile started the new campaign in similar vein, before going four games without a goal to drop off the pace being set by Cristiano Ronaldo.


8) Florian Thauvin (Marseille) – 30 goals
Games played: 46
Minutes per goal: 115
The France attacker went from a tuxedo-clad flop at Newcastle to World Cup winner, with 14 Ligue 1 goals during the second half of last season sealing his place in Didier Deschamps’ squad. A record of 13 goals in 19 appearances this term is reportedly catching the eyes of Chelsea, Bayern, Inter and Atletico, though the 25-year-old is understandably wary of what happened the last time he left the comfort of Marseille.


7) Luis Suarez (Barcelona) – 32 goals
Games played: 49
Minutes per goal: 131
Barca are reportedly worried about the state of Suarez’s knee, which has received stem cell tratment in recent weeks. You can understand their concern. The Uruguay star has scored 11 goals this season despite playing in discomfort, following 31 last season, with all but 10 coming after the New Year.


6) Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) – 33 goals
Games played: 52
Minutes per goal: 126
The France star has scored four goals in his last three La Liga appearances – one more than he managed in the previous 14 matches. Prior to winning the World Cup, Griezmann also won his first major trophy, the Europa League, while firing 22 goals during the second half of last season.


5) Harry Kane (Tottenham) – 34 goals
Games played: 50
Minutes per goal: 121
The Tottenham striker sandwiched his Golden Boot at the World Cup with 17 goals in the second half of last season and another 17 during the current campaign so far. “In December, January I hit top form,” said Kane a month ago and a record of six goals in seven Premier League matches suggests he was right.


4) Mo Salah (Liverpool) – 37 goals
Games played: 49
Minutes per goal: 109
Last season’s Premier League top scorer – an achievement secured on the back of 15 goals in 15 games in 2018 – began this new campaign rather more slowly. But seven goals in his last eight games suggests Salah is back in his stride. It would have been eight in eight had he not brought Jurgen Klopp close to tears


3) Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) – 39 goals
Games played: 45
Minutes per goal: 93
Bayern must be glad they dug their heels in this summer when Lewandowski wanted to leave the club. Last season’s Bundesliga top scorer has saved his best form for the Champions League this term, with Lewandowski netting eight goals during the group stage at a rate of one every 67 minutes.


2) Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid and Juventus) – 43 goals
Games played: 46
Minutes per goal: 90
The Juventus attacker will point to the fact he has played two fewer games than Messi, but Ronaldo is still operating at a slightly less efficient rate than his great rival. After taking three games to feel his way into Serie A, the 32-year-old has scored 14 goals in 16 games since, creating five goals in his five goalless games during that run.


1) Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 47 goals
Games played: 48
Minutes per goal: 82
The Barca machine was trailing Salah in April, so he simply scored eight goals in his last six La Liga games of the season to seal his record fifth European Golden Boot. His tally of 26 goals in all competitions in the second half of 2017/18 would have been enough to get Messi in the top ten for the whole of 2018, but the Argentina genius has netted 21 goals in 20 games this term to take top spot.

Ian Watson