The Europa League will reach its conclusion on Friday night as record five-time winners Sevilla take on Inter Milan in a hugely anticipated final, the two sides bidding to lift the trophy following an enthralling season of European action.
UEFA’s secondary competition is often unfairly criticised but the latest campaign has been another full of memorable moments, with a series of stars having shone throughout the 2019/20 tournament.
We’ve decided to look at the most prolific players from this season’s competition, here are the seven leading scorers from the 2019/20 Europa League so far:
Diogo Jota – 6 goals (Wolves)
Wolves secured qualification to Europe for the first time in 39 years following a hugely impressive return to the Premier League during the 2018/19 season, finishing seventh in the division to earn entry into the Europa League’s second qualifying round.
Their venture in the competition began in July and lasted more than a full calendar year as the club reached the quarter-finals, their run including memorable victories over sides such as Torino and Olympiakos.
Key to the club’s success was the form of Diogo Jota, who scored six goals despite making just three starting appearances – averaging a goal every 62 minutes during Wolves’ run to the last eight.
Jota’s goals came in spectacular fashion as he scored back-to-back hat-tricks in wins over Besiktas and Espanyol, finishing the season with 13 goals in all competitions for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
Edin Visca – 6 goals (Istanbul Basaksehir)
A key component in the rise of Istanbul Basaksehir in recent seasons, Edin Visca has been a dedicated and committed servant to the Turkish side for almost a decade and a regular source of goals from his position on the right flank.
The Bosnian international scored 13 goals and provided 12 assists as the Istanbul-outfit were crowned as Turkish champions for the first time this season, adding a further six goals during the club’s run to the last-16 of the Europa League.
Edin Višća = İstanbul Başakşehir's hero again? ?
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) March 11, 2020
It was Visca who proved the difference during Istanbul’s thrilling comeback victory against Sporting Lisbon in the Round of 32, overturning a 3-1 deficit to progress 5-4 on aggregate after extra-time, the diminutive winger scoring a stunning stoppage-time goal to force the added period before netting the winner from the penalty spot in the 119th minute.
Alfredo Morelos – 6 goals (Rangers)
Rangers won plaudits for their progress in continental competition this season, Steven Gerrard’s side reaching the last-16 before being eliminated by Bayer Leverkusen.
The Scottish side’s charge towards the knockout stages was propelled by the goalscoring exploits of combative Colombian Alfredo Morelos, who scored six times throughout the group stages as Rangers progressed from a group containing Porto, Young Boys and Feyenoord.
? Alfredo Morelos in this season's competition:
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) August 3, 2020
The 24-year-old is believed to be agitating for a move away from Ibrox as he seeks to move to one of Europe’s leading leagues, his form in this season’s Europa League indicating he is ready for the step up.
Daichi Kamada – 6 goals (Frankfurt)
Frankfurt reached the semi-finals of last season’s competition before a dramatic defeat to Chelsea on penalties in the last four, only to see their exciting young side decimated by the departures of forwards Luka Jovic, Ante Rebic and Sebastien Haller last summer.
Amongst the new additions to an overhauled squad was that of Japanese midfielder Daichi Kamada, who returned from a loan spell at Sint-Truiden to make his mark in the Frankfurt first-team this season.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) August 3, 2020
The 24-year-old has saved his best displays for the Europa League this season, scoring six times in just eight starts for the Bundesliga side, including a brace as Frankfurt beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates and a hat-trick against Red Bull Salzburg.
Andraz Sporar – 6 goals (Sporting Lisbon/Slovan Bratislava)
The goalscoring exploits of Andraz Sporar earned the Slovenian international a mid-season move to Sporting Lisbon, the forward having hit 60 goals in just 78 appearances over a three-season spell at Slovan Bratislava.
Sporar’s haul included scoring five times for Slovan during this season’s Europa League, netting twice in an entertaining 4-2 victory over Besiktas and scoring a consolation during the club’s 2-1 defeat to Wolves in Slovakia.
The 26-year-old’s fine form earned him the attention of Sporting, the Portuguese side securing his signing in a €6m deal during the winter window. Sporar added a sixth Europa League goal to his collection during Sporting’s last-16 clash against Istanbul Basaksehir, but was powerless to stop the club losing 5-4 on aggregate after extra-time.
Romelu Lukaku – 6 goals (Inter Milan)
Romelu Lukaku sits as the only player on this feature still capable of adding to his impressive tally, the forward heading into Friday’s final as Inter Milan’s leading goalscorer in all competitions.
Lukaku’s brace during Inter’s 5-0 semi-final destruction of Shakhtar Donetsk took him to six goals in just four starts in this season’s competition, the 27-year-old averaging a goal every 59 minutes in the Europa League this term.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) August 17, 2020
His double against Shakhtar also meant Lukaku became the first player in history to score in 10 consecutive Europa League fixtures, a run which stretches back to November 2014 and his time with Everton.
Few would bet against the burly Belgian making his mark as the Italian giants bid to secure the trophy, Lukaku now just one goal short of matching OG Ronaldo’s 1997/98 record of scoring 34 goals in all competitions – the highest-scoring debut season for an Inter player.
Bruno Fernandes – 8 goals (Manchester United/Sporting Lisbon)
The leading scorer in this season’s Europa League to date is Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who has scored eight goals throughout the tournament for the Red Devils and former side Sporting Lisbon.
Fernandes scored five times in five group stage appearances for Sporting to help the Portuguese side qualify for the knockout stages as runners-up, before continuing his fine form after a winter window switch to the Premier League.
Bruno Fernandes is now the leading goalscorer in the Europa League this season ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/w1PP5JEWUJ
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 10, 2020
The Portugal international scored from the penalty spot on three occasions for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the latter stages, netting their quarter-final winner against Copenhagen and the opening goal of their last four defeat to Sevilla in Cologne.
Only two players – Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Manchester United teammate Juan Mata – have also registered more than Fernandes’ four assists in the competition this season, the Portuguese playmaker amongst Europe’s most effective attacking midfielders at present.