Football Features

Georgios Giakoumakis and Europe’s other unlikely goal machines

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 11:00, 2 February 2021

It comes as no surprise to see Robert Lewandowski leading the race for this season’s European Golden Shoe.

The 32-year-old Polish marksman is yet to win this coveted prize with Lazio marksman Ciro Immobile pipping him last season.

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Lewandowski scoring a gluttony of goals is par for the course, but across Europe’s top divisions we are seeing certain new faces pulling off similar feats, plus others we couldn’t have imagined.

Here are five such players: a mix of strikers outperforming expectations and midfielders who are channelling their inner Frank Lampard circa late 2000s.

Tomas Soucek

Club: West Ham

Scoring form: 7 goals in last 14 Premier League appearances

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Who could have predicted Czech defensive midfielder Tomáš Souček would be West Ham’s leading marksman with half of this season already being played? The 25-year-old, who joined from boyhood club Slavia Prague a year ago, has been inspired — scoring all seven of his goals since early November — and to say he’s thriving under David Moyes is an understatement. Even though he once bagged 13 goals across 34 matches in the Czech First League, this is a whole different level. Despite primarily starting in a deep position, Souček is encouraged to get forward as often as possible, in turn becoming a set-piece threat. It’s not just Hammers fans who are enjoying his exploits, Souček’s popularity among fantasy football players grows exponentially.

Georgios Giakoumakis

Club: VVV-Venlo

Scoring form: 21 goals in 20 Eredivisie appearances

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Prior to joining VVV-Venlo last summer, Georgios Giakoumakis was enjoying a modest playing career predominantly in his native Greece, but the 26-year-old marksman is now on everyone’s lips after putting together an incredible run in front of goal. A hat-trick on debut against FC Emmen was foreboding, but Hans de Koning’s men would struggle to pick up further wins, going on a six-game winless run which included that now-infamous 13-0 loss to Ajax, but Giakoumakis was still finding the net and even scored in five consecutive games. He’s gone from strength to strength with ADO Den Haag and, most recently, Vitesse suffering his wrath as the Greek striker put four goals past them, respectively.

İlkay Gündoğan

Club: Manchester City

Scoring form: 7 goals in last 9 Premier League appearances

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There was a running gag not long ago that suggested Pep Guardiola’s ultimate dream would be fielding an entire outfield team of midfielders. He’s come close to achieving this peculiar lineup but the chances of it happening anytime soon are slim, though he can be pleased with İlkay Gündoğan’s recent output. Not exactly renowned for his goalscoring prowess, that has changed this season. Prior to 2020/21, his best campaign was six goals across 31 matches in 2018/19, but a recent brace against West Brom saw him surpass this personal milestone. Having never reached double figures in a league season before, the 30-year-old Germany international has given himself every chance of pulling that off.

Paul Onuachu

Club: KRC Genk

Scoring form: 22 goals across 24 Belgian Pro League appearances

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It’s not just in the Netherlands where a striker is making headlines. Further down the Low Lands, you’ll find Paul Onuachu, who’s currently running away with the Belgian top division’s Golden Boot. The 26-year-old Genk centre-forward recently became the first player to break the 20-goal mark. It’s remarkable given that he could only muster nine across 22 appearances last season. The 6ft7″ Nigerian has turned out in the Jupiler Pro League on 24 occasions this season. Onuachu is on course to become the league’s most prolific scorer in a single campaign this century; a record which is currently held by former Genk man Wesley Sonck, who bagged 30 goals during the 2001/02 season.

Andre Silva

Club: Eintracht Frankfurt

Scoring form: 14 goals in last 15 Bundesliga appearances

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Once known as nothing more than the distraction that allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to wreak havoc at international level for Portugal, Andre Silva has been redefining himself since joining Eintracht Frankfurt last season.

The former AC Milan man made a solid start to life in Germany in 2019/20, netting 12 goals in 25 Bundesliga games. This season, he’s been a force of nature, scoring 16 goals in 18 appearances, including 14 in his last 15.

Silva enjoyed back-to-back braces against Arminia Bielefeld and Hertha Berlin most recently, moving him two ahead of Erling Haaland (14) as Lewandowski’s closest challenger in the German top-flight, though he remains eight adrift of his Polish counterpart.