While the out-and-out centre-forward may be a dying breed in the modern game, having a prolific presence upfront remains a solid, albeit not guaranteed route to success.
As ever, the past year has seen new attacking sensations emerge, while the usual suspects have also continued delivering the goods, with a whole host of strikers having been consistently on the money since the turn of the year.
What that in mind, here’s a look at the five most prolific strikers of 2021 so far in Europe’s top five league’s.
Andre Silva – 21 goals
Just pipping Karim Benzema and international colleague Cristiano Ronaldo – who both scored 20 – to a place in the top five is Portugal striker Andre Silva, with the 25-year-old having been in a rich vein of form over the last year or so.
With a high profile move to AC Milan having failed to work out, the striker revived his career with a loan spell at Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2019/20 campaign, netting 12 Bundesliga goals, before joining the German side on a permanent deal last season and scoring a remarkable 28 league goals.
That tally included 19 Bundesliga goals from January to May as Frankfurt narrowly missed out on a Champions League place, with Silva finishing the season second only to Robert Lewandowski for goals scored in the German top-flight.
That form unsurprisingly earned him a move over the summer, as he joined RB Leipzig for a reported fee of around €23 million, something of a steal for player who had scored 40 goals in just 57 league games for his former club.
Since his move to Saxony, the forward hasn’t quite found his feet just yet, although has registered two goals and two assists in the league thus far, while he recently took his international tally to 19 goals in 46 games with a late header in the 3-0 friendly win over Qatar.
Dusan Vlahovic – 21 goals
One of the breakthrough stars of the last 12 months has been Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic, with the 21-year-old reportedly attracting the attention of a number of Europe’s top sides after netting 21 Serie A goals last season.
Amid speculation over the future of Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur had been heavily linked with the Serbian sensation – as too had Atletico Madrid – during the summer transfer window, only for the youngster to opt to stay at the club which he joined in 2018.
Having scored just four times in the league in the first-half of the 2020/21 campaign, the former Partizan Belgrade man came alive after the turn of the year, netting 17 league goals from January onwards to finish as the fourth top-scorer in the Italian top-flight.
Another fine start to the new season has seen him add four more league goals for Vincenzo Italiano’s side, while his total tally now sits at six goals in just eight games in all competitions.
With recent reports suggesting he won’t agree to a new deal to stay in Florence – with his existing contract set to expire in the summer of 2023 – it would appear that a high profile move is on the cards in the near future for promising young talent.
Lionel Messi – 23
While Lionel Messi is yet to score a league goal for new club Paris Saint-Germain, he finds himself on this list having hit 23 La Liga goals for Barcelona in the second-half of last season, in what proved to be his final few months in a Barcelona shirt.
Despite seemingly angling for a move last summer amid frustrations with then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu, the Argentine was ultimately forced to stay with a year still remaining on his current, with that situation perhaps affecting his form as he scored just seven league goals in the first 16 games of the campaign.
Amid the continued speculation over his future, however, the left-footed genius sparked into life after the turn of the year, going on to score 23 La Liga goals in the final few months of the season to take his total tally to 30 for the season as he once again finished as the top scorer in the Spanish top-flight.
That stellar individual form seemingly helped paper over the widening cracks at the Nou Camp, a fact that has been illustrated by their dismal start to the new season in his absence, with the club having been unable to afford to hand their talisman a new deal.
In his new surroundings in Paris, Messi has yet to hit his best form after having been slowly eased into life under Mauricio Pochettino, although his one and only goal for the Ligue 1 club so far was a stunning strike in the Champions League victory over Manchester City.
Erling Haaland – 24
The Borussia Dortmund sensation has been delivering the goods ever since joining the club from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020, with a remarkable tally of 68 goals in 67 games for the club in all competitions ensuring his status as one of the game’s most prolific marksman.
Still only 21, the Norway international exudes confidence and appears to relish terrorising opposition defences, with both his power and speed, as well as his ruthlessness in front of goal, making him almost unplayable at times.
The former Molde striker scored 27 Bundesliga goals last season – the third-most in the league – with 17 of those having come in 2021, as he helped the German side overcome a shaky start to the season to secure a third-place finish and also clinch the DFB-Pokal trophy.
Last season also saw him finish as the top scorer in the Champions League, despite crashing out in the quarter-final’s against Manchester City, having enjoyed a particularly profitable last-16 tie against Sevilla, in which he ran the Spanish side ragged and scored four goals across the two legs.
He has continued in a similar vein this season, with seven goals in just five league games – notably scoring twice and laying on three assists against Frankfurt on the opening weekend – as it looks set to be another sensational season for the young man.
Robert Lewandowski – 31
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the man leading the way in 2021 is Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, after a remarkable haul of 31 Bundesliga goals this year alone, as his scarily consistent goalscoring run continues.
Arguably the best ‘number nine’ in world football, the Poland international currently sits on 499 club career goals, with 307 of those having come in just 336 games for Bayern since moving from rivals Dortmund in 2014, in a deal that could well be the greatest free transfer signing of all-time.
In the last few seasons, in particular, his goalscoring form has gone to new heights, as last term saw him break Gerd Muller’s long-standing record after scoring 41 goals in the German top-flight, with 24 of those having come after the turn of the year.
Those goals were pivotal in helping steer the Bavarian giants to a ninth successive league title, with it more than likely that he will fire them to a tenth at the end of the campaign, having already scored seven in seven in the early weeks of the season to take Julian Nagelsmann’s side to the top of the table.
He had scored in 19 consecutive games for the club in all competitions up until firing a blank at struggling side Greuther Furth at the end of last month, meaning he narrowly missed the chance to equal the late, great Muller’s record of scoring in 16 successive Bundesliga games.
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