It’s that time of the season again when the race for the Golden Shoe is heating up. The award, presently held by Barcelona’s Luis Suarez is one of the most prestigious awards in Europe and has been held by the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and Henrik Larsson.
However, the race for the Golden Shoe is not as straight forwards as it appears to sound. The goals scored by each player in their respective Leagues are only counted (no cup competitions), and they’re multiplied by a co-efficient allotted to each League. Players in Italy, Portugal, Germany, Spain, and England have 2.0 as the coefficient which gets multiplied to each goal they score in the League, and the players who play in countries like France, Greece, Netherlands have a coefficient of 1.5 which gets multiplied to their goal tally at the end of the season.
The person with the highest points at the end of the season walks away with the prize.
#10 Gonzalo Higuaín/ Romelu Lukaku/ Mauro Icardi/ Dries Mertens (24 goals X 2 = 48 points)
You didn’t realise that Dries Mertens has sneaked into 24 goals in the League right? Nope, me neither. There have been rumours linking Mertens to English giants (Manchester United mostly) and it is easy to see why, a wide man scoring 24 goals is quite unheard of, even at Real Madrid (low blow, I know).
The trio of Gonzalo Higuaín, Romelu Lukaku and Mauro Icardi have obviously been brilliant for their respective clubs. Gonzalo Higuaín especially has been the shining light for the Old Lady this season and his goals have fired the Italians to pole position in the Serie A and Champions League.
Romelu Lukaku and Mauro Icardi, 23-years-old and 24-years-old respectively have a huge transfer window ahead of them. Surely, there are clubs in Europe willing to churn out 60 million either (not both).
#9 Edinson Cavani (33 goals X 1.5 = 49.5 points)
Poor Edinson Cavani, if he played in any of the top 5 Leagues apart from France, he would be at the second position. But, unfortunately, or fortunately he plays in the Ligue 1 for PSG (who will probably not win the League despite his 33 goals).
For the first time since his spell in Italy with Napoli, he has made the number 9 role his own. Add his international goals, and the goals he scored in cup competitions he has 49 for the season. Not so overrated now, is he?
#7 (Tied) Anthony Modeste (25 goals X 2 = 50 points)
There is something about Anthony Modeste that makes you instantly like him. Strong on the ball, a willing runner and physical to the point defenders hate him, he has a hand in more than 57% of FC Koln’s goals, leading them to the 7th place in the Bundesliga.
Add to that his goal celebration where he makes those goggles and I have found you a FIFA legend you should buy just to see your opponents throw their controller away. Also, he scored this goal when his pants were falling off, and that is when I truly fell in love.
#7 (Tied) Andrea Belotti (25 goals X 2 = 50 points)
The second highest goal scorer in the Serie A, the Italian has truly taken the world by storm. A proper number 9 in every sense of the word, the international is a goal poacher with his head, right foot, left foot and every part of the body the referee would allow him to score with.
He has had a hand in 30 goals this season, around half of the goals Torino have scored this season. Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid are all rumoured to be interested, but somehow he gives me the feeling that he is the archetypical Jose Mourinho center-forward.
#5 (Tied) Edin Dzeko (27 goals X 2 = 54 points)
Manchester City could have really done with his goals this season. After, a poor first season (by his standards), he has established himself as one of the best in Europe again. The highest goal scorer in Italy, he has led an unlikely title challenge from Roma against the mighty Juventus.
Given that he is 31-years-old and has had the best season of his career is a testament to his fitness and hunger. Also, he is the first Roma player to score 27 goals in a season since Enrique Guaita in 1934/35.
“I'm not a boy anymore,” Dzeko told English outlet ‘The Independent’, “I can't run maybe like I could ten years ago...you feel different. I'm older, but I'm much [more] clever because I have so many games behind me”. Let’s call it his Italian renaissance.
#5(Tied) Luis Suarez (27 goals X 2 = 54 points)
The current holder of the golden shoe, and has admittedly an underwhelming season. Given he has scored 27 League goals in such as season is a testament to the player and his ability. His contribution to the Barcelona team, however, remains integral to what they achieve at the end of the season.
Selfless running, one-touch finishes, and theatrical dives, you might love him or hate him but you really can’t ignore him. Alongside, Lionel Messi and Neymar they will truly have defenders quaking in their boots. Expect him to be nearer to the top in coming seasons.
#3 (Tied) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (28 goals X 2 = 56 points)
It is probably one of the biggest mysteries in Europe that Aubameyang somehow still divides opinion. The Gabon striker is the template for a modern striker, quick, runs in behind, and a great header of the ball.
His importance to the team is evident when Dortmund play without their main man. He has tailored a telepathic importance with Ousmane Dembélé, and the duo was perhaps the main reason for their run into the Champions League quarterfinals.
With Real Madrid sniffing around it remains to be seen how long the 27-year-old would stick around.
#3 (Tied) Robert Lewandowski (28 goals X 2 = 56 points)
The joint highest goal scorer in the Bundesliga, the Bayern Munich hitman has kept his usual standards in terms of goals and what he brings to the defending champions. Undoubtedly, one of three best centre forwards in Europe the Polish international is the only indispensable in a Bayern team which has a World class alternative for every position.
Apart from his prodigious ability to finish from anywhere in the box, he plays wonderfully well with his back to goal (a sort of a dying art in modern football) and has added a wicked free kick to his already impressive arsenal. Undoubtedly the best player at Bayern Munich, and that is an achievement in itself.
#2 Bas Dost (31 goals X2 = 62 points)
“I'm going to give my all to beat Lionel Messi,” said Bas Dost last week when asked about the Golden Shoe. The Netherlands international has 31 strikes from a staggering 80 shot Portuguese League with Sporting.
Now 27, five years hence that record-breaking season as a 22-year-old top scorer of the Eredivisie. It is safe to say that he hasn’t set the world alight. But, this season, he showcased everything that made him one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe.
His ability to find space in the most crowded of areas, and his ability to use all of the 1.96 meters of height which led him to score a staggering 11 goals from his head. At the moment, four behind Lionel Messi, he would need to be at his best to cement his name into the history books.
#1 Lionel Messi (35 goals X 2 = 70 pints)
Well, who else could it be but the prodigal son of Barcelona? At the start of the season, there were whispers around the football world that the Number 10 might have been on the wane, but the Argentine has proved his doubters wrong and then some.
There have been points in the season when he has carried Barcelona on his shoulders when the Catalan giants really needed him. Obviously, the El Clasico comes too mind, but the Argentine international doesn't get enough credit for the evolution he has brought to his game. He may not dribble past 5 people every 5 minutes, but he is capable of eliminating five with his passes now.
Footnote: Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t made the list but it is perhaps worth noting his reduced game time against the so-called ‘lesser opposition’ in the La Liga.