Race for the Golden Shoe 2012/13: Mid-season update

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January, the mid-point for most European seasons, seems as good a time as any to have a quick check on how the top scorers across Europe are doing so far this campaign.

Here, GMF looks at the leaders in the race to be crowned the winner of the European Golden Shoe - the award presented at the end of each season to the leading goalscorer in league matches from the top division of every single European league.

From it's inception in the 1967-68 season - first winner Eusebio - through to 2011-12 - received by Lionel Messi - no player has every scooped the title more than twice.

The Barcelona sensation has won two of the last three, and he's looking to become the first to win three times this term - as if he needed to break any more records.

So, how on earth does it work? 

The shoe doesn't just go to the out-right top goalscorer in Europe, after all. Oh no, that would be far too logical for UEFA.

Instead, using the UEFA Coefficients, each league is given a ranking - depending on how competitive that league is perceived to be, players get more points for scoring in more difficult leagues.

That way, a goal in the Premier League is worth more than a goal in the Romanian first division.

In practice, it basically means the awards' top sponsors don't end up dishing out the shoe to some no-name striker from the Maltese top-flight, who's managed to bang in 150 goals in a single season.

Of course, with Leo Messi around - knocking in 91 in a single calendar year - such precautions are unnecessary.

And the Argentinean is on track to take home the shoe for a third time this season - his 29 goals in 20 games by far and away the best record of any player in a European top division.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic took his talent to France last year, and he's adapted quickly, but not even the talents of Zlatan can keep pace with Messi.

The Swede boasts an extremely impressive 19 goals in 18 games - the only other player in one of Europe's top 5 leagues, other than Messi, to average better than a goal a game this season. Still, it's nowhere near good enough to challenge the Nou Camp nymph.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao ensure three of the top four ply their trade in La Liga - vindication of sorts for the FIFA Team of the Year's decision to snub the Premier League.

Still, the English game avoids complete embarrassment, as Robin Van Persie squeaks into the top 5 - his 18 goals in 23 games for Manchester United is a mightily impressive haul, but he's never going to challenge the La Liga goal poachers.

Rouding out the top 10, Serie 'A' gets a nod through Edinson Cavani, and AC Milan wonderkid Stephan El Shaarawy, while Luis Suarez of Liverpool and Chelsea's January addition Demba Ba also sneak into the top 10.

The final entrant, Philipp Hosiner, is the only player from outside Europe's top 5 leagues to crack the top 10. His work for Austria Vienna in the Austrian Bundesliga has earned him a place at number 8, with 21 goals in 20 league games so far.

So, half-way through the season, take a look at how the race for the European Golden Shoe is shaping up. Stats courtesy of Of course, Messi is odds-on to win, but do you think any of the candidates here could challenge him…

Top 10 

1. Lionel Messi - Barcelona | 29 goals in 20 games | 58 points

2. Cristiano Ronaldo - Real Madrid | 18 goals in 19 games | 36 points

3. Radamel Falcao - Atletico Madrid | 18 goals in 18 games | 36 points

4. Robin Van Persie - Manchester United | 18 goals in 23 games | 36 points

5. Arturas Rimkevicius - FC Siauliai | 35 goals in 36 games *season finished* | 35 points

6. Edinson Cavani - Napoli | 17 goals in 18 games | 34 points

7. Luis Suarez - Liverpool | 16 goals in 22 games | 32 points

8. Philipp Hosiner - Austrian Vienna | 21 goals in 20 games | 31.5 points

9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Paris St Germain | 19 goals in 18 games | 28.5 points

10. Stephan El Shaarawy - AC Milan | 14 goals in 21 games | 28 points

10*. Demba Ba - Chelsea | 14 goals in 23 games | 28 points



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