“Four things come not back: The spoken word, The sped arrow, The past life, The neglected opportunity.” An Arabian Proverb.
When asked why the Manchester United forward Andy Cole was not picked for the 1998 World Cup Squad, former England Coach Glenn Hoddle said: “Andy Cole needed five chances before he converted.” This quote has always stuck with me when evaluating an attacking player. As a forward, you usually only get few chances to convert a goal during a game. Sometimes, missing a crucial chance might even subject you to the unforgiving wrath of the Internet.
After thinking about who is the most efficient striker in Europe currently, I could not come up with an answer. I guessed Suárez or Lewandowski but I was not 100% sure. So I decided to do some research based on data from last season. Statistically, there are two ways you can do this. Count the number of goals per-minute played or count the number of goals per shots taken. I prefer the latter because it normalizes the number of minutes played between the players. In this method, I do not have to worry about Ronaldo playing 18 hours and 15 minutes more than Charlie Austin when comparing the two.
I decided to research the players from the following leagues and tournaments from last season because of the perceived quality of the competition: UEFA Champions League, Italian Serie A, English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, French Ligue 1, Dutch Eredivisie, German Bundesliga and UEFA Europa League. I also decided to only look at players who scored at least 18 goals. An obvious limitation of this research is that the quality of opprutunities or shots taken were not compared.
Here is what I found:
|Player Name||Total Shots||Goals||Ratio(%)|
|1. Bas Dost||54||18||33.33333|
|2. Carlos Bacca||89||27||30.33708|
|3. Alexandre Lacazette||96||27||28.125|
|4. Antoine Griezmann||94||24||25.53191|
|5. Karim Benzema||88||21||23.86364|
|6. Alexander Meier||80||19||23.75|
|8. Diego Costa||94||20||21.2766|
|9. Luis Suárez||113||23||20.35398|
|11. Lionel Messi||270||53||19.62963|
|12. Cristiano Ronaldo||296||58||19.59459|
|13. Zlatan Ibrahimovic||109||21||19.26606|
|14. Sergio Aguero||167||32||19.16168|
|15. Harry Kane||112||21||18.75|
|16. Thomas Müller||107||20||18.69159|
|17. Carlos Tevaz||152||27||17.76316|
|18. Luca Toni||125||22||17.6|
|19. Arjen Robben||110||19||17.27273|
|20. Mark Uth||116||20||17.24138|
|21. Edinson Cavani||143||24||16.78322|
|22. Gonzalo Higuaín||150||25||16.66667|
|23. Luuk de Jong||133||22||16.54135|
|24. André-Pierre Gignac||130||21||16.15385|
|25. Mauro Icardi||140||22||15.71429|
|26. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||123||19||15.44715|
|27. Robert Lewandowski||151||23||15.23179|
|28. Charlie Austin||131||18||13.74046|
|29. Alexis Sánchez||142||19||13.38028|
|30. Memphis Depay||188||25||13.29787|
Based on the research, VfL Wolfsburg’s Dutch striker Bas Dost was the most efficient striker in Europe with a impressive ratio of 33.333% chances of scoring a goal per shot. The 26 year old 6’5 striker had a wonderful season in the Bundesliga and Europa League. The big man is an excellent finisher, moves wonderfully off the ball and is great in the air. AC Milan’s new Colombian summer signing Carlos Bacca came in second with 30.337% chances of scoring, while Lyon’s French striker Alexandre Lacazette came in third with 28.125%. These three players have two things in common: they are currently not house hold names and do not start for their national teams. Maybe another season with 18 or more goals with the same level of efficiency will cement them with the elite of European football.