The 20-goal-a-season striker is often talked about in mythical terms in football, the player who can turn a season’s ambitions into reality.
While it’s not always strictly true in an era of false nines and flexible forward lines, it certainly helps to have a player capable of finding the back of the net with ease. Just five men have reached the fabled 20-goal landmark in Europe’s top five leagues this season and can rightfully be regarded the creme de la creme of centre-forwards.
Here are the five men to have achieved the feat to date.
Erling Haaland – Manchester City (32)
Erling Haaland leads the charge in Europe’s top five leagues as the Manchester City forward marches on towards an inevitable Golden Boot, European Golden Shoe and Premier League goalscoring record.
Haaland, in truth, is a phenomenon.
The Norwegian arrived as perhaps the most exciting Premier League signing of the modern era last summer, but has exceeded even those expectations during a record-breaking debut season at the Etihad. The leading scorer in the league and Champions League, he has 48 goals in all competitions this season, already a record for a Premier League player in a single season.
Erling Haaland has equalled Ronaldo's personal best tally for goals in a single club season:
20-year-old R9 in 1996/97:
◎ 49 games
◉ 47 goals
22-year-old Haaland in 2022/23:
◎ 40 games
◉ 47 goals
Goalscoring greatness. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/w5486BWubd
— Squawka (@Squawka) April 15, 2023
Last weekend Haaland equalled Mohamed Salah’s 38-game record for a Premier League season (32) and looks set to pass the overall record held by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole (34) before the season’s end.
There’s even been talk of the 22-year-old pushing towards the legendary Dixie Dean’s famous total of 65 goals in all competitions, set for Everton in 1927/28. That is the sort of absurd numbers we’re witnessing from Haaland.
Harry Kane – Tottenham (23)
Harry Kane’s excellent season has been overshadowed somewhat due to the presence of the aforementioned Haaland, but the England captain is the second-highest goalscorer across Europe’s top five leagues.
Kane has reached the 20-goal landmark in the Premier League for the sixth time, a feat only Alan Shearer (7) and Sergio Aguero (6) have previously achieved.
It’s been a season of records for Kane, who has claimed both Spurs and England’s all-time goalscoring titles and became just the third player to reach 200 goals in the Premier League.
History: made ✅
Harry Kane's record-breaking goal… pic.twitter.com/mYkONzKzFY
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 5, 2023
Kane’s goals have enabled an ordinary Spurs side to remain in contention for Champions League football, with the 29-year-old having scored a staggering 40% of the north London side’s goals this season.
His 23 in the league is his joint-best total since 2017/18, when Kane breached the 30-goal barrier in a career-best campaign. Spurs will need their talisman to continue firing as the club search for consistency and a top four finish.
Victor Osimhen – Napoli (21)
Europe’s top clubs are forming a somewhat disorderly queue in the race to sign Victor Osimhen, with the forward having emerged as one of Europe’s most coveted centre-forwards this season.
Osimhen has been in sensational form for Napoli, who are runaway leaders in Serie A and closing in on a first Scudetto since 1990. The Nigeria international has scored 21 goals in 24 league appearances and provides a potent combination of power and clinical touch.
Osimhen is robust, ruthless, good in the air and quick over the ground, with the 24-year-old the perfect profile to lead a forward line alone.
Victor Osimhen does it once again! 🎯
Chest, knee, volley, BOOM!
Incredible stuff from Napoli's striker to open the scoring 🙌 pic.twitter.com/0aV0Bdm9Sk
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 29, 2023
Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are all said to be courting the forward, who has earned cult status in Naples for his performances in Serie A this season. Not since Diego Maradona was in his pomp have Napoli celebrated a league title, but the performances of Osimhen this season look set to lead to a celebration.
Kylian Mbappe – Paris Saint-Germain (20)
Kylian Mbappe is the joint-leading scorer in Ligue 1 this season as the Paris Saint-Germain superstar looks to retain his title as the league’s top scorer for a fifth consecutive campaign.
The 24-year-old has scored 203 goals in 253 appearances since signing for PSG, including 139 goals in 169 games in Ligue 1. Mbappe is now 18th in the division’s all-time list of goalscorers and the highest-scoring player in France this century.
It’s a remarkable feat for a sublime footballer, who underlined his status as arguably world football’s most decisive player with eight goals – including a final hat-trick – at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Kylian Mbappe is now Ligue 1's top scorer in the 21st century 🤯 pic.twitter.com/FJijwjkb1P
— GOAL (@goal) April 15, 2023
He has now scored 30+ goals in all competitions in five consecutive campaigns for PSG.
Jonathan David – Lille (20)
Jonathan David has kept pace with Mbappe in the battle to finish as Ligue 1’s leading scorer, an open race that has just five goals separating nine players.
David has produced the best return of his career at Lille and the French side are bracing for anticipated interest in the Canada international this summer.
Fabrizio Romano are reporting that Lille – who are fifth in Ligue 1 and in danger of missing out on Champions League football – have set an asking price of €65m (£57m) for David, who has been linked with Bayern Munich and several Premier League clubs.
It's Jonathan David! ✨
Lille's Canadian star completes a sumptuous counter attack for his 20th goal of the season. pic.twitter.com/mkr9b7bZ5C
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 16, 2023
David has scored 48 goals in 105 league appearances across three seasons at Lille and has a prolific record at international level, having netted 24 times in 40 caps for Canada.