Football News

Europe’s best strikers ranked by goals scored and xG in 2023

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 10:30, 26 October 2023

Who is, as of today, the most prolific goalscorer across Europe’s top seven leagues in 2023?

If you’ve answered Erling Haaland, Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski or Kylian Mbappe then you would be wrong.

The individual in question is Santiago Giménez. A household name he may not be. However, Gimenez’s exploits – 26 goals in 29 games – have seen him lauded in Rotterdam, where he turns out for Dutch giants Feyenoord with distinction and has made many a viewer, in the Netherlands at least, sit up and take notice.

Gimenez is from Buenos Aires, a city renowned for producing great forwards, but represents Mexico at international level. He moved to Europe in July 2022, following a steady rise at boyhood team Cruz Azul, and to say he’s made an impact would be selling him short.

His first campaign with the Rotterdammers culminated with an Eredivisie title. Gimenez’s contribution was 15 goals across 32 outings. He’s not letting up in 2023/24, where the marksman has to date posted 13 strikes in nine appearances.

It will require a herculean effort to break Coen Dillen’s record for most goals in one season (43), set during the inaugural Eredivisie campaign (1956/57) – but at this early stage of the season, at his current rate, Gimenez is at least mathematically on course to do so.

Concentrating on this calendar year then in terms of goals scored, Giménez, who recently professed his idolisation of Radamel Falcao, stands above some distinguished names while being tied alongside the aforementioned Kane with Mbappe and Haaland not far behind.

Speaking of Manchester City’s goal machine, Giménez is currently the only player in Europe’s top seven competitions during this period more deadly than Haaland in terms of non-penalty expected goals, which in itself is a remarkable achievement.

Even in his own domestic league, Gimenez isn’t having it his own way as AZ striker Vangelis Pavlidis is level with him on 13 goals, and the Greek freak is chasing history of his own. Pavlidis has netted in each of AZ’s opening nine games with the Eredivisie record within touching distance.

Kane’s continuous excellence

Long gone are the days of labelling Kane a one-season wonder. If he isn’t Europe’s finest number nine then at best there can be only one or two names in front of him. Tottenham woefully underachieved last term having finished eighth and subsequently missing European football this season. It ultimately turned out to be Kane’s final stand with him departing for Bayern Munich, which allowed record Premier League goalscorer Alan Shearer to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

The seemingly preputial German champions essentially replaced Lewandowski with the Londoner and if anyone thought Kane needed time to bed in, he showed otherwise on his Bundesliga debut. Kane netted against Werder Bremen and has since breached the following defences of Augsburg (two goals), Bayer Leverkusen, Bochum (hat-trick), RB Leipzig and Mainz, leaving him with nine goals across his opening eight league appearances. This, coupled with 17 strikes in 22 outings for Spurs, places him alongside Giménez for most goals this calendar year, with both expected to feature high up in the final 2023 table.

Messi’s successor in Europe

If things had gone differently, Giménez may be able to call himself a World Cup winner. The presence of incredible and productive Argentine forwards in Europe’s top leagues is a tale as old as time. Lionel Messi practically dominated such lists during his relentless pomp. He is no longer terrifying defenders on the European continent but that doesn’t mean a fellow countryman cannot stand up and take the baton.

Lautaro Martínez, tipped for great things since breaking into Inter Milan’s first team, is starting to fulfil his long-held potential as a consistent goalscorer, instead of what Robin van Persie once described as a ‘nine and a half’.

In other words, someone who plays between the traditional No. 9 and the creative No. 10 position. He is currently Serie A’s most destructive marksman in 2023 with 25 goals and no fewer than 11 of those strikes coming since the 2023/24 kicked off. A noteworthy performance came at Salernitana, when Martinez came off the bench and netted a record four goals in the span of 27 minutes.

The rise and rise of Serhou Guirassy

Unless you’re a regular Eredivisie watcher, Giménez will likely be an unfamiliar name. But even in the more heavily broadcasted leagues, there are some unknowns that surface with Serhou Guirassy perhaps the most recent example. The journeyman Guinean forward is enjoying a long-awaited breakthrough season of epic proportions.

Even so, there were pre-warnings. Guirassy ended the 2022/23 campaign with four goals across his last five Bundesliga appearances. He’s since been nothing short of ruthless as Stuttgart enjoy the Bundesliga’s fifth-best-ever start.

Guirassy started by netting 10 goals across his opening five matches. FC Köln kept him at bay while suffering a 2-0 loss. He subsequently took this frustration out on Wolfsburg with a second hat-trick of the campaign before striking past Union Berlin, though suffered a knock in the process. Stuttgart head coach Sebastian Hoeness called his impending loss through sustaining a hamstring injury “bitter for him personally and for the team” before adding: “Everyone has seen what great shape Serhou was in recently. We must and will compensate for his loss as best as possible.”