Football

Race for the Golden Shoe: Europe's deadliest strikers

Ronaldo won the award in 2002 (©GettyImages)
Ronaldo won the award in 2002 (©GettyImages).

The season may only just have started for most of Europe’s major leagues but that doesn’t mean the race isn’t on already for one of the great individual prizes of European football.

Across Europe clinical goal scorers have started adding to their tally for the season in the hope of not only firing their teams to glory but also claiming the coveted prize of Europe’s deadliest finisher, the Golden Shoe.

From it’s inception in 1967 as the Soulier d’Or, the Golden Shoe, formerly known as the Golden boot, was given by French magazine L’Equipe to the most prolific striker in any European league before the criteria was changed in the early 90’s to take into account the various strengths of leagues across the continent.

Now using UEFA coefficient to rank goalscorers, the Golden Shoe is currently in possession of Lionel Messi, who also previously won the award in 2010. Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Eusebio and Gerd Muller are among the strikers who have won the award twice; but no one has ever claimed a hat-trick of trophies. Could this be the year that one man rises above all others to make history. Here are the main contenders for this year’s prize.

Note: Golden Shoe Top 30 table up to date as of 24/09/2012

 


 

Lionel Messi, Barcelona

Current Golden Shoe Ranking: 22nd, Goals: 6, UEFA Coefficient: 2.0 Golden Shoe points: 12

The Argentinian maestro has started the 2012/13 season superbly, and in 2012 alone has 54 goals to his name, just four short of his best yearly total with three months to go. His six goals in La Liga already this season put him in 22nd in the Golden Shoe race, behind strikers from lesser leagues who already have over 20 goals to their name. Come the end of the season, Messi will be right near the very top.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain

Current Golden Shoe Ranking: 16th, Goals: 7, UEFA Coefficient: 2.0 Golden Shoe points: 14

Ibrahimovic has settled into life in Paris just fine it seems, with seven goals in five Ligue 1 games. The former AC Milan striker is benefitting from leading the line in front of some of the world’s most expensive talents, and having bagged 5th place in last season’s Golden Shoe, he’ll be right in the mix this time.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Current Golden Shoe Ranking: NA, Goals: 3, UEFA Coefficient: 2.0 Golden Shoe points: 6

A relatively sluggish start to the season in terms of goal scoring from Ronaldo, who has “just” three goals to his name in five games. Currently outside the top 30 in the Golden Shoe race, as soon as the games start coming thick and fast the Portuguese winger should rise quickly up the table in place of strikers from lesser leagues.

Second only to Messi last season, Ronaldo will be very near the top this season, although the problems that have left Madrid eight points adrift of rivals Barcelona in La Liga already may hamper his performances this season.

 

Radamel Falcao, Atletico Madrid

Current Golden Shoe Ranking: NA, Goals: 5, UEFA Coefficient: 2.0 Golden Shoe points: 10

Perhaps the most in-form striker in Europe at the moment, Falcao has won plenty of admirers for his performances over the past two seasons, in which he won the Europa League twice with Porto and Madrid respectively.

His hat-trick against Chelsea in the Super Cup has given rise to speculation he could join the Blues in January, and with the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata behind him he could be a real contender for the Golden Shoe this time. If he stays put however, there is nothing to stop him challenging Messi or Ronaldo anyway.

 

Robin van Persie, Manchester United

Current Golden Shoe Ranking: NA , Goals: 5, UEFA Coefficient: 2.0 Golden Shoe points: 10

A seamless switch from London to Manchester, Robin van Persie has picked up where he left off from his 30 goals scored for Arsenal last season with five in five games for Manchester United.

With Wayne Rooney out injured, Van Persie has been leading the line on his own, but it will be interesting to see if his goal tally is affected by the return of the England striker should they play together in attack.

 

Edinson Cavani, Napoli

Current Golden Shoe Ranking: NA , Goals: 2, UEFA Coefficient: 2.0 Golden Shoe points: 4

A deadly striker who has been scoring consistently in Italy for three seasons now, Cavani has courted interest from plenty of leading European clubs.

Shorn of some of the talents who helped him score 23 goals last season he may struggle to reach the same heights this time round.

 

Klaas Jan-Huntelaar, Schalke

Current Golden Shoe Ranking: NA , Goals: 2, UEFA Coefficient: 2.0 Golden Shoe points: 4

Huntelaar enjoyed a brilliant campaign for Schalke last season, finishing ahead of the likes of Ibrahimovic, Rooney and Mario Gomes to claim 4th spot behind countryman Van Persie in the final Golden Shoe table.

With two goals to his name so far, Huntelaar has been a little slow in getting off the mark, and playing in a team generally considered to be a step below the very best in Europe he may find it hard to replicate his success of last year.

 

Current leader in the Golden Shoe Rankings:

Artūras Rimkevičius, Siaulai, Lithuania

Current Golden Shoe Ranking: 1 , Goals: 27, UEFA Coefficient: 1.0 Golden Shoe points: 27

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