Getting into double figures for goals has always been regarded as a significant milestone for any attacking player, and with just over a third of the games played in each of Europe’s top five leagues so far this season there are 13 players who’ve managed to break that barrier. As ever at this stage there are a couple of surprises alongside the usual names – and I thought it might be interesting to have a quick look at the players, compare them, and dissect their records in a statistical sense.
So here are the players.
Who has the most goals?
In terms of a pure total, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been the best goalscorer with 17 to his name. The Gabon international was one of Borussia Dortmund’s bright lights in their poor 2014/15 season, and this year under Thomas Tuchel he’s managed to thrive even more. The consistent quality and quantity of his chances are a big reason for this; he has a high number of shots per 90 minutes (4.0), and the amount of them which have come from inside the box (89.1%) is only beaten by two names on this list. Nobody betters his minutes per goal (72.1) record, either.
Who has been the most clinical goalscorer?
Aubameyang comes close to getting this one too, with a staggeringly good chance conversion rate of 30.9%, but it’s one of the surprising names on the list who has managed to beat him here – Benjamin Moukandjo of Lorient, the highest scorer in Ligue 1 with 11 goals so far. He’s put away 31.4% of his chances, which is a shock not only because of him having a small reputation in comparison to most of the others, but also because a big portion of his shots, 25.7%, have come from outside the box.
Who’s trying the most shots?
Moukandjo (2.4) is also the player who’s had by far the least attempts on goal on this list, but at the opposite end of the spectrum to him is Robert Lewandowski. Lewandowski’s recording an absolutely huge number of shots this season at the free-scoring Bayern Munich, with only Gonzalo Higuaín (5.5) coming anywhere near to his 6.4 per 90. Both of them are relatively low when it comes to their respective conversion rates, though, and Higuaín’s 16.7% is the lowest of the 13 players. A big reason for the latter’s inclusion here is his ambitious shot locations, with 31.9% of his efforts coming from further than 18 yards out.
Who’s the most ambitious shooter?
The only player to beat Higuaín’s percentage of shots coming from outside the box is another Serie A attacker, Éder of Sampdoria, with 46.5%. It’s an extremely high proportion, but his being so large is at least more logical than Higuaín’s in the sense that he’s more of a wide forward than a natural striker like the Argentine is. Only one of Éder’s goals has come from long range shots, however.
Who’s getting in the best locations to shoot from?
The 34-year-old Aritz Aduriz is the one who’s having the most of his shots from inside the box, an extremely large percentage of 92.9% (which is a credit to the Athletic Bilbao side for getting the best out of him and his wonderful aerial ability in particular). Luis Suárez’s 89.4% can also be seen as a demonstration of his club side’s ability to create high quality chances in the danger zone on top of his natural talent, with Aubameyang coming a close third behind the Uruguayan: with 89.1% of his efforts coming within 18 yards.
Whose record is boosted the most by penalties?
As the chance of scoring a penalty is much higher than a normal opportunity in open play, their influence on goal records – and conversion rates – has to be considered, even if they haven’t been removed from the data here. So with four penalties scored each are Thomas Müller and Moukandjo, while five players (Aubameyang, Éder, Ibrahimović, Neymar and Vardy) all have three penalties included in their tallies for the season. Michy Batshuayi (two), Aritz Aduriz (one) and Luis Suárez (one) have also benefitted from them slightly; leaving Higuaín, Lewandowski and Romelu Lukaku as the only ones without a single league goal from the spot this season so far.
Whose record is the least sustainable?
Because of where his shots are coming from and the small volume which he’s attempted (2.4 per 90), Moukandjo’s record and sensationally high conversion rate has to be considered the most unsustainable of the lot. The fact that he’s also scoured four penalties, a very irregular / hard to predict goal source, also contributes. Another player who can be included for similar reasons is Éder.
Who has the most sustainable record?
Picking which players have the most sustainable record is a lot harder in comparison, but Lewandowski, Neymar and Suárez, to name three, are probably the safest bets – given their individual talent, shot locations / quantity, and the predictable consistency of the teams which they play for. Aubameyang, Higuaín and Ibrahimović are probably not far off that either. The most interesting player to have this discussion about is arguably Vardy though, who has of course just broken Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record for scoring in the most consecutive Premier League games. Whether he'll carry it on is hard to tell, although his stats do look promising, but either way the Leicester striker has certainly had a memorable season already.
And so that's that. There will almost certainly be some changes to that list of the top scorers by the end of the season, especially given the absences of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular at this stage, but it'll be interesting to see whether some of the smaller names on this list can keep up their tremendous form in front of goal.