Football Features

The best goalscoring midfielders in Europe right now

By CJ Smith

The best goalscoring midfielders in Europe right now

Published: 14:35, 23 February 2024

Although strikers shoulder most of the burden, every team can benefit from a top-class goalscoring midfielder. 

From Frank Lampard to Kaka, the modern game has been littered with midfielders netting both in high volumes and at times of great importance. Even more vital are those who can time their runs into the box or hit it ‘on the Paul Scholes’ from the edge of the box, scoring from open play rather than padding out their stats with penalties.

So, who have been the most effective goalscoring midfielders from open play in Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues so far this season? We’ve ranked the top 10 by minutes per goal, with a minimum of five league goals scored.

10. Sergio Arribas

Club: Almeria
Minutes per open-play goal: 284
Total open-play goals: 6

Almeria have stunk the place out in La Liga this season, failing to win any of their 24 games so far, taking just seven points and scoring only 22 goals. Almost a third of those goals have been scored by Sergio Arribas, who sits two clear of any other Almeria player on six, all of them coming from open play.

When (rather than if) Almeria’s relegation is confirmed, nobody will be blaming Arribas, who has tried his level best to put some pride into their miserable season.

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9. Viktor Tsygankov

Club: Girona
Minutes per open-play goal: 276
Total open-play goals: 5

In his second season in LaLiga after joining Girona from Dynamo Kiev, Viktor Tsygankov has set a new personal best for goals in a single league campaign. The 26-year-old has found the back of the net five times so far in 2023/24, with all five goals coming from open play and four of them either being the opening goal of the game, the equaliser or a go-ahead strike.

8. Marcos Llorente 

Club: Atletico Madrid
Minutes per open-play goal: 274
Total open-play goals: 5

Diego Simeone has found himself the ultimate utility player, with Marco Llorente playing centre-midfield for most of the season, but also filling in a right wing-back and even in the role behind the striker in Alvaro Morata’s absence. With two goals in his previous match against Las Palmas, playing in a more advanced role, he has now scored five times from open-play in La Liga this season, becoming the fifth Atleti player to score 5+ league goals so far this campaign.

7. Bernardo Silva

Club: Manchester City
Minutes per open-play goal: 272
Total open-play goals: 6

For a long time, Bernardo Silva hasn’t really been given the credit he deserves. Yes, we all know just how important his work rate and determination are to Manchester City’s success. But it’s only recently that his sheer footballing ability has been recognised. That includes goalscoring, with the Portugal international scoring six open-play goals in the Premier League so far this season at a rate of one every 272 minutes.

Only Erling Haaland (17), Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden (both 8) have scored more Premier League goals for Man City than Silva so far this season.

6. Andrea Colpani

Club: Monza
Minutes per open-play goal: 260
Total open-play goals: 7

For the second season in a row since their promotion, Monza are enjoying a very solid campaign in Serie A, currently sitting 11th in the table and 13 points clear of the relegation zone. That is in no small part thanks to the form of Andrea Colpani, who has seven goals (all from open play) to his name so far. Even though only one of those goals has come in his last 12 appearances, it’s still enough to leave the 24-year-old three goals clear of any other Monza player this season.

5. Takumi Minamino

Club: Monaco
Minutes per open-play goal: 258
Total open-play goals: 5

Just making it into the top five is former Liverpool man Takumi Minamino. Impressively, Minamino also matches his five goals with five assists to help Monaco sit third in Ligue 1, just a point behind Nice in second. The Japan international’s quality has never been in doubt, he just needed to find the right place to thrive and a new role playing mainly in more central areas seems to have done him the world of good.

4. Scott McTominay

Club: Manchester United
Minutes per open-play goal: 250
Total open-play goals: 5

There hasn’t been much to get excited about as a Manchester United so far this season, but you can be sure things would be much worse without the unexpected form of Scott McTominay. The Scottish midfielder has often been linked with a move away from Old Trafford but has ended up turning himself into one of Erik ten Hag’s key players, scoring seven goals in the Premier League alone, five of which have come from open play.

McTominay has performed similar heroics to help Scotland qualify for the European Championships, so maybe this is his route to becoming a name taken seriously among the elite?

3. Ermedin Demirovic

Club: Augsburg
Minutes per open-play goal: 240
Total open-play goals: 8

After a number of flirtations with relegation, Augsburg are settled nicely in mid-table this season. Ermedin Demirovic has been the key to the Bavarian side’s success, floating just underneath striker Phillip Tietz, who acts more as a distraction for his Bosnian counterpart than the main goalscorer. The result is Demirovic netting 12 times in the Bundesliga this season — only four players have scored more — with eight of those goals coming from open-play. That’s one every 240 minutes, which is an incredible rate.

2.  Ansgar Knauff

Club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Minutes per open-play goal: 187
Total open-play goals: 7

While Brandt is thriving at Dortmund, Ansgar Knauff had to leave there for Eintracht Frankfurt to truly flourish. This season — after making a loan move permanent — he really is cashing in on his considerable talent. The 22-year-old German has seven goals in 19 Bundesliga appearances so far this season, all from open play at a rate of one every 187 minutes. That’s been key to what is a low-scoring Frankfurt side, who sit sixth in the table mostly thanks to having the best defensive record outside the top two.

1. Jude Bellingham

Club: Real Madrid
Minutes per open-play goal: 138
Total open-play goals: 13

Did you ever doubt who would top this list?

Jude Bellingham has been doing a very good job of putting himself in-line for a Ballon d’Or award since joining Real Madrid and you don’t need us to tell you how ridiculously good he’s been. We’ve all seen it.

However, it’s nice to put some numbers to the performances, and an open-play goal every 138 minutes with 13 scored in total just in La Liga? That’s quite frankly ridiculous.

‘Generational talent’ doesn’t even come close to doing Bellingham justice.