Dwelling deep into the statistics, we take a look at which striker has been at his lethal best in the 2019/20 season.

The numbers game: The search for Europe’s deadliest strikers

Brazil great Romario once said, “Strikers are egotists, selfish. We have to be.” This particular utterance may sound bumptious to many, yet the fact remains that these men are solely judged on the statistics they deliver.

European football, this season, was profoundly impacted by the momentous consequences of the global pandemic but it managed to deliver what was promised. For once, the world witnessed someone other than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo topping the goal-scoring chart, with Lazio’s Ciro Immobile pipping the duo by bagging 36 league goals.

In that context, a certain Robert Lewandowski was at his lethal best for the record Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. We have had as many as 11 players who crossed the 20-goal mark across the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A, the Spanish La Liga and the German Bundesliga. So, to put things in perspective, and figure out who has been at the deadliest from the lot, we compare all these men across several facets like conversion rate and average shots per game to name a few to obtain a crystallised picture in front of us.

Note: Only the players to score 20 or more league goals are taken into account.

Only league appearances are considered, not the European figures.

Players from the French Ligue 1 have been excluded, given that the league ended prematurely.

Conversion rate

This particular attribute distinguishes how deadly a striker can be with his attempts. It is often said that the best strikers are those who can capitalise on the situations when expectations are least. 

Speaking in that context, a certain Jamie Vardy of Leicester City tops the chart with a conversion rate of 30.26. Having notched 23 goals and five assists in the 2019/20 Premier League season, the England forward attempted a total of 70 shots, with 43 of them being on target.

Up next comes a surprising entrant; Sassuolo’s Francesco Caputo who scored 21 and assisted a further seven. The 33-year-old had a mere 58 attempts, least amongst those who have scored at least 12 goals in the Serie A season but was on target on 35 occasions, completing his tenure with a conversion rate of 30.

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski made heads spin with a return of 34 goals and four assists. In a total of 2762 minutes played in the league, the Polish striker attempted a total of 114 shots (64 on target), maintaining a healthy rate of 25.76. 

Lazio’s Ciro Immobile stole the limelight with an exhilarating tally of 36 goals and nine assists. Having had 71 shots on target from an attempted 119, the Italian marksman finished with a rate of 25.71.

Inter’s Romelu Lukaku had a fantastic season under Antonio Conte, who also tried signing the big Belgian during his time at Chelsea. And now that the pair are working together, the former Manchester United striker finished with a figure of 23 goals and two assists, converting his 75 attempts at a rate of 24.47.

You might be wondering where the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are in the list. Well, rightly so, but brace yourself for an utter disappointment as the duo finishes on the bottom of the table. 

Messi, who had a contribution in 46 league goals (25 goals and 21 assists), found the target on 71 occasions from 115 attempts, while Ronaldo, who bagged 31 goals and five assists, attempted a whopping 142 shots, with 80 being on target. The duo, however, returns a conversion rate of 14.67 (Messi) and 15.58 (Ronaldo).

Player

Goals/assists

Total Shots/On Target

Conversion rate

Jamie Vardy

23/5

71/43

30.26

Francesco Caputo

21/7

58/35

30

Robert Lewandowski

34/4

114/69

25.76

Ciro Immobile

36/9

119/71

25.71

Romelu Lukaku

23/2

75/47

24.47

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

22/3

70/42

24.44

Danny Ings

22/2

66/38

24.14

Timo Werner

28/8

100/64

23.53

Karim Benzema

21/8

107/60

18.33

Cristiano Ronaldo

31/5

142/80

15.58

Lionel Messi

25/21

115/71

14.67

Meanwhile, those between 20 and 25 are the likes of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (24.44), Southampton’s Danny Ings (24.14), former RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner (23.53). Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, for his part, carried a conversion rate of 18.33.

Minutes per goal

Robert Lewandowski and Ciro Immobile once again enter the top half of the tally, having had minutes-per-goal ratios of 81 and 88 respectively in their leagues. The duo put together, has scored a whopping 70 goals and 13 assists between them, which is, with all due respect, more than what Watford and Norwich combined to score (62) in the 2019/20 Premier League season. Deleterious with the ball at their feet, the pair averaged 4.5 and 3.8 shots respectively per game. 

While both Messi and Ronaldo have been at the bottom in terms of conversion, their average of shots per game shows why they are considered as two of the best footballers of the current generation. The Portuguese, who found the back of the net every 94 minutes, took 6.3 shots per game in Serie A, most by any player in the list. The Barcelona frontman, on the other hand, comes second with 4.8 with a figure of 115 minutes per goal.

Player

Minutes per goal

Shots per game

Robert Lewandowski

81

4.5

Ciro Immobile

88

3.8

Cristiano Ronaldo

94

6.3

Timo Werner

100

3.6

Lionel Messi

115

4.8

Danny Ings

128

2.4

Romelu Lukaku

130

2.8

Jamie Vardy

132

2.5

Francesco Caputo

140

2

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

143

2.6

Karim Benzema

150

3.4

As shown in the list, Karim Benzema, who carried Real Madrid on several occasions en route to winning the La Liga title, took 150 minutes to score a goal. A figure that lowly, however, is compensated by 3.4 shots per game.

And perhaps to no one's surprise, Chelsea’s newest acquisition Timo Werner sits fourth with a figure of 100 minutes per goal. His average of 3.6 shots per game, though, is one of the best in the tally. 

Jamie Vardy and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang acquire the bottom spots, which well and truly resonates how fiery the English Premier League can be.

Shots from different areas

Strikers are judged on how efficient they are when not on the ball. Their clever movement of getting into the scoring position is exactly what makes them noxious, and this particular area we are about to scout explore shows how effective these 11 players have been from different parts of the field, like scoring from outside the box, around the penalty area and from the six-yard box.

Starting off with the European golden boot winner, Ciro Immobile, the Lazio striker has bagged a solitary goal from outside the box from 27 attempts. From around the penalty area though, he has attempted a whopping 112 shots (second-best in the list), converting 34 of them, followed by one from the six-yard box.

There are only two players - Karim Benzema and Francesco Caputo - who failed to score a goal from outside of the box. Benzema’s goal against Real Valladolid in August 2019 though came right from the edge of the box, and thus it is quite debatable.

Player

Shots from outside of box/goals

Conversion rate from outside of box

Shots from penalty area/goals

Shots from six-yard box/goals

Conversion rate from inside box

Penalty Goals

Ciro Immobile

27/1

16.67

112/34

3/1

55.56

14

Cristiano Ronaldo

81/2

11.76

115/25

12/4

49.15

11

Romelu Lukaku

15/1

25

73/18

11/4

51.16

6

Francesco Caputo

3/0

0

65/16

5/5

58.33

2

Robert Lewandowski

20/1

20

104/29

14/4

55.93

5

Timo Werner

18/3

20

99/22

6/3

46.55

3

Lionel Messi

84/9

26.92

66/14

9/2

37.5

5

Karim Benzema

25/0

0

86/19

13/2

37.93

5

Jamie Vardy

9/1

50

70/17

10/5

55

4

Danny Ings

15/4

60

61/11

17/7

54.55

1

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

24/2

25

60/18

9/2

55.26

2

However, the highest amount of goals from outside, as a majority of us can expect, has come from Lionel Messi, who notched nine from a whopping 84 attempts.

Robert Lewandowski, being a poacher, has found the net on 29 occasions from the penalty area in 104 attempts. Meanwhile, the best conversion rate from the six-yard box comes from Caputo, who has put the ball into the net in all of his five attempts.

Versatility

All of these 11 players have shown extreme athleticism, and that is duly illustrated by the fact that how potent they have been even with their weaker foot or even their strong presence in the air. In this distinction, we will look at how many shots each player has taken from their right foot, left foot and with their head, before they found the net.

Considering the ability to score with the weaker foot, Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy has scored nine, while Southampton’s Danny Ings and Sassuolo’s Francesco Caputo have scored eight. The likes of Lionel Messi and Romelu Lukaku are the only left-footed attackers in the list, and the duo has scored two and four goals respectively from their weaker right foot.

As far as headers are concerned, Robert Lewandowski has notched eight goals by rising high, while Timo Werner and Messi are the only forwards who failed to score a headed goal in the 2019/20 league season.

Player

Right foot shots/goals

Left foot shots/goals

Headed attempts/goals

Lewandowski

73/23

24/3

39/8

Werner

92/23

21/5

10/0

Francesco Caputo

35/11

29/8

9/2

Cristiano Ronaldo

126/24

51/5

31/2

Ciro Immobile

95/28

28/6

19/2

Romelu Lukaku

20/4

58/15

20/4

Jamie Vardy

34/11

37/9

18/3

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

67/16

17/3

9/3

Danny Ings

55/13

21/8

17/1

Karim Benzema

69/14

30/4

24/2

Lionel Messi

12/2

142/23

5/0

And for the second time running, both Ronaldo and Messi have oozed class by having 126 and 142 attempts respectively with their stronger foot. 

Note: Stats taken from whoscored, BBC, transfermarkt, one-versus-one and understat

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Ander Gillenea, Sven Hoppe, Marco Bertorello