When Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record fee this summer, there was an expectation on the remaining members of ‘MSN’ to make sure his absence didn’t have a negative effect on the team.
Barca brought in Ousmane Dembele for £135.5 million but the French youngster pulled his hamstring in the opening few weeks of the campaign, sidelining him for months.
So the responsibility fell on Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi to carry Barca’s attacking threat.
Unfortunately, Suarez is struggling without Neymar and has scored just three goals in 14 appearances this season.
Luckily for the Catalan club, Lionel Messi is having a rather incredible campaign.
Twelve goals in 11 La Liga matches - 16 in 17 in all competitions - has seen Messi get off to a flyer this season.
His goals mean Barca are four points clear at the top of La Liga - eight points ahead of Real Madrid.
Despite his start, though, he faces tough competition to win his fifth European Golden Shoe.
The race for the European Golden Shoe
Here is the top seven:
1 | Ciro Immobile - 28 points
2 | Rauno Sappinen - 27 points
3 | Albert Prosa - 27 points
4 | Radamel Falcao - 26 points
5 | Edinson Cavani - 26 points
6 | Igor Angulo - 24 points
7 | Lionel Messi - 24 points
Who are Sappinnen, Prosa and Angulo we hear you ask.
Well, both Sappinen and Prosa play in the Estonian league for FC Flora and FCI Tallinn respectively.
Meanwhile, Angulo - who is ahead of Messi because of the number of goals he's scored - plays for Górnik Zabrze in the Polish league.
But if you think playing in a lesser European league gives up an unfair advantage in winning the European Golden Shoe, you’re wrong.
That’s because their goals are only multiplied by 1.5 to give them points. Whereas, those players playing in a major league have their number of goals multiplied by two.
That means both Sappinen and Prosa have scored 18 goals each, while Angulo has bagged 16.
If the three players had done that in a major league, they would be leading the race for the European Golden Shoe.
As it is, it’s Lazio’s Immobile that leads the way after his 14 strikes this season.
But Messi has some catching up to do.
With the Argentine level with Cristiano Ronaldo on four Golden Shoe’s, he will be hoping to create history by becoming the first player to have won five.