Football Features

Who is the premier goal poacher across Europe’s big five leagues?

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 12:15, 17 February 2021

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar once described the “elixir of life” as hearing the sound of the ball hitting the back of the net.

For a serial marksman like the Dutchman, you expect nothing else. Now back at former club Schalke 04, after representing his other love Ajax, he’s tasked himself with helping the Bundesliga outfit stave off relegation.

A mammoth challenge stares him in the face given they’re rock-bottom, games are running out and the deficit to safety is sizeable. How the Royal Blues will hope they can turn back time and inherit the 2011/12 version of ‘De Hunter’. Back then he was arguably Europe’s finest goal poacher, but who currently holds that mantle across the continent’s big five leagues.

10. Mauro Icardi

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Appearances: 12

Goals: 5

Touches per goal: 37.8

During a six-year stint with Inter Milan very few strikers in Serie A could match Mauro Icardi who seemed destined to become an undisputed club legend. However, external issues led to a parting of ways and Paris Saint-Germain became his new home. Despite their attacking riches, Icardi has proven to be reliable when called upon and, though he’s yet to explode in terms of goals scored this season, the Argentine ‘number nine’ remains effective.

9. Youssef En-Nesyri

Club: Sevilla

Appearances: 22

Goals: 13

Touches per goal: 36.69

Arguably the surprise package in La Liga this season. After starting tentatively (four goals across Sevilla’s opening nine league outings) Youssef En-Nesyri has come alive in recent weeks. He’s become a home specialist, scoring eight of Sevilla’s last 11 strikes at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium. What’s encouraging for his boss, Julen Lopetegui, is the fact that En-Nesyri isn’t wasting energy and he’s becoming a phenom inside the penalty area.

8. Zlatan Ibrahimović

Club: AC Milan

Appearances: 12

Goals: 14

Touches per goal: 35.79

If there’s a definition of ‘ageless wonder’ it’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic; the evergreen 39-year-old Swede is playing his part as AC Milan chase a first Scudetto since 2011, which incidentally happened to occur in his previous stint at the club. Ibrahimovic missed a chunk of this campaign due to injury but before a seven-game spell on the sidelines he bagged 10 goals across his opening six league appearances. The Swede has been relatively quiet of late (four games from six played) but that could be the lull before going berserk in the final stretch.

7. Jamie Vardy

Club: Leicester City

Appearances: 20

Goals: 12

Touches per goal: 35.5

The only Premier League representative on this list and it is fitting that it’s a Fox in the box. We can argue that, when it comes to ‘number nines’, Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are currently one step ahead of Jamie Vardy but the Leicester City striker remains as good as ever. Brendan Rodgers’ arrival somewhat revitalised the former England international with him no longer chasing lost causes instead being used effectively, and the Foxes are reaping those benefits.

6. Mattia Destro

Club: Genoa

Appearances: 18

Goals: 9

Touches per goal: 35

Slightly going under the radar in Italy’s top division is much-travelled centre forward Mattia Destro who is currently enjoying his prolific campaign since the 2016/17 season when he bagged 11 goals across 30 matches for Bologna. This recent surge in form has positioned Destro to break his personal record of 13 strikes for Roma in 2013/14. Having previously claimed eight international caps, the last coming just over six years ago, the 29-year-old striker must be quietly hoping for a recall ahead of Euro 2021.

5. Moise Kean

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Appearances: 17

Goals: 10

Touches per goal: 34.6

Competition for places in Roberto Mancini’s squad will be fierce. Italy’s boss, though, must be pleased with Moise Kean’s current exploits. The 20-year-old forward joined PSG on loan from Everton and it’s so far proving to be a successful decision. As touched upon, given the Parisians’ attacking riches, there’s no guarantee of a starting berth but Kean has earned a place in Mauricio Pochettino’s lineup. The potential we saw at Juventus is now starting to be realised.

4. Ibrahima Niane

Club: Metz

Appearances: 6

Goals: 6

Touches per goal: 33.67

Incredibly there’s someone more effective than Kean in France’s top division but, unlike the Italian forward, we’re not likely to see him for the remainder of this season. Ibrahima Niane, who joined Metz from Senegalese outfit Génération Foot in 2017, started the campaign with six goals from his opening six outings but that all came to a halt when he sustained a serious knee injury which has kept him sidelined since mid-October.

3. Luis Suárez

Club: Atletico Madrid

Appearances: 18

Goals: 16

Touches per goal: 32.19

Spain’s leading scorer is also their most effective in front of goal. Luis Suárez needs no introduction but who could have imagined him being this good after Barcelona deemed the Uruguayan surplus to requirements last summer. He’s answering those critics and doing so in style. Suárez managed to pick up one Pichichi Trophy during his Camp Nou spell and is hoping to become the first Atlético Madrid player to finish as La Liga’s leading marksman since compatriot Diego Forlán in 2008/09.

2. Robert Lewandowski

Club: Bayern Munich

Appearances: 19

Goals: 24

Touches per goal: 29.83

It’s no surprise to see Europe’s most feared ‘number nine’ this high up. Robert Lewandowski is currently operating on a different level and he’s showing no signs of letting up. The 32-year-old Bayern Munich striker won the Bundeslia’s last three scoring titles and five of the past seven editions. It’s hard to see anyone denying him a fourth-consecutive Torjägerkanone, a feat that would eclipse the great Gerd Müller who redefined what it meant to be a scorer in Germany’s top division.

1. Erling Haaland

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Appearances: 16

Goals: 15

Touches per goal: 27.73

Lewandowski’s nearest challenger is currently André Silva of Eintracht Frankfurt, the Portuguese international has registered 18 goals in the Bundesliga, which still leaves him six behind the Pole but the situation could soon change now Erling Haaland is back in the groove following a spell on the sidelines. If there’s a would-be successor to Lewa’s goalscoring crown it’s the 20-year-old Norwegian wunderkind. Since joining Borussia Dortmund, after wowing the world at Red Bull Salzburg, he’s been relentless (28 goals in 31 league appearances) so much so we’re questioning whether this season could be his last at the Westfalenstadion with the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid sniffing around.