Most efficient forwards in Europe (2014/2015)

“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 7. Neymar 136 32 23.52941 8. Diego Costa 94 20 21.2766 9. Luis Suárez 113 23 20.35398 10. Aduriz 94 19 20.21277 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.