If there’s one thing a manager with an attacking philosophy loves more than a goalscoring forward, it is a goalscoring midfielder. While forwards continue to break goalscoring records and earn all the plaudits, most midfielders are reduced to either supplying the final ball or doing the dirty work in midfield.
Just look at the two La Liga giants this season. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have scored 27 and 24 league goals respectively but no midfielder has scored more than six. At Real Madrid, only Isco has seven goals – the same as Sergio Ramos. Stars such as Neymar and Karim Benzema have struggled and scored just nine goals each.
However, a few teams have seen their midfielders score more goals than most strikers or forwards have done this season. We take a look at the top five goalscoring midfielders.
#5 Serge Gnabry (Werder Bremen): 10 goals
Although Gnabry has been deployed as a forward on more than one occasion in Werder Bremen’s ever-changing formation, he is technically an attacking midfielder. The 21-year-old can play across the midfield and generally plays on the left of midfield in a 4-1-4-1 or 4-4-2 formation.
The former Arsenal youngster was one player Arsene Wenger did not want to let go. But competition with Alexis Sanchez for the same position effectively ended Gnabry’s hopes of starting games and he rejected a contract extension to sign with Bremen.
The River Islanders had a terrible start to the season and looked consigned to relegation but have slowly clawed their way back up the table. And it is Gnabry they have to thank for their improved performances. He has regularly been on the scoresheet and has scored 10 goals this season – the last two in a brace in a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg.
Among the top 10 goalscorers in the Bundesliga, Gnabry is the only midfielder among the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Anthony Modeste. What’s more, he has scored the same number of goals as Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez.
With the pace to get in behind the defence and also score from long range, Arsenal fans will be left to rue what could have been had he still been at the club.
#4 Pedro Leon (SD Eibar): 10 goals
The right winger from La Liga’s SD Eibar is 30 years old and has still scored the same number of goals as their 27-year-old forward Sergi Enrich. The club’s story itself is truly remarkable – having gained promotion in 2014. They miraculously survived relegation when 13th placed Elche were relegated while they managed to finish a creditable 14th last season.
But this season has seen a complete turnaround in fortunes and the club with a stadium that can seat just over 7,000 fans could play in Europe next season. Part of that has been down to their summer signing from Getafe. The man who had a failed stint at Real Madrid signed a two-year deal when Getafe were relegated.
He had an instant impact at the start of the season, scoring in three consecutive games to ensure Eibar won seven points in total. He has been ‘Man of the Match’ in seven games for the club in La Liga this season and has five assists to go with his 10 goals.
Leon is also a set-piece specialist and most of his goals have made the difference between zero, one and all three points.
#3 Pablo Piatti (Espanyol): 10 goals
On loan from Valencia this season, it is safe to say that Pablo Piatti has been one of Espanyol’s best players alongside their forward Gerard Moreno. No player from the club has been involved in more goals than the 28-year-old winger who also has 19 assists in the bag.
Espanyol have mainly adopted the traditional 4-4-2 in the league this season and he has played out on the left flank. A strong crosser of the ball and one of their key set-piece takers, he has also created the most chances for his side.
His best game came against Leganes in a 3-0 win where he scored twice and assisted the third goal. Twice this season he has scored the winner (against Malaga and Alaves) and he has also ensured they have come away with at least a point on a few occasions.
The club have been a mid-table side throughout the season and they are currently ninth in the table. They have the chance to finish in the top half of the table for the first time since the 2010/11 season and Piatti's contributions will have played a key part if they do.
#2 Marek Hamsik (Napoli): 11 goals
The Italian Serie A has seen a resurgence of sorts in recent years and gone are the days when it was known for its highly defensive approach. In fact, five forwards have already broken the 20-goal barrier this season – a stark contrast to last season where only Gonzalo Higuain did (with an astronomical 36 goals).
Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne may have grabbed the headlines this season but it is Napoli captain Marek Hamsik who has gone under the radar with 11 goals this season. Although it is unlikely to see Napoli reel in Juventus in the title race on the home stretch, the Partenopei will easily qualify for the Champions League next season.
Maurizio Sarri has pretty much used the 4-3-3 system in Serie A this season and Hamsik has been deployed in central midfield. And he has come up with the goals regularly with the highlight being his hat-trick against Bologna in a 7-1 thrashing. He also scored the crucial equaliser in the match against Juventus in the 1-1 draw recently.
#1 Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur): 16 goals
Among the top 10 goalscorers in the Premier League, Dele Alli is the only midfielder – and he’s up in sixth! The midfielder, who turns 21 on 11 April, has scored 16 goals so far with seven games to go. He has scored as many goals as Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero.
Tottenham Hotspur have had another good season and are still very much in the title race. However, their only chance of catching up with Chelsea is if the Blues collapse like Spurs have done in recent years – highly unlikely with Antonio Conte in charge.
In spite of Harry Kane’s absence following his injury, Alli continues to thrive to keep the Spurs in with a chance. The attacking midfielder had a pretty quiet first half of the season before exploding in December. His best performance came when he scored both goals in a 2-0 win over league leaders Chelsea.
While his performances in Europe came under heavy criticism, there was no question about his contributions in the Premier League. It is no wonder then that Real Madrid are reportedly in for the youngster.