European Golden Boot: Harry Kane out in front but three superstars lurking

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European Golden Boot: Harry Kane out in front but three superstars lurking
Harry Kane could snatch the Golden Boot for the first time in his career
Harry Kane could snatch the Golden Boot for the first time in his career
AFP
The Golden Boot is one of the most prestigious honours in European football. At the end of the season, UEFA honours the leading goalscorer of the season. In 2023/24, the race is more exciting than ever before. Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan) and Kylian Mbappe (Paris SG) are three world-class strikers out in front. Last season's winner, Erling Haaland (Manchester City), will also want to have a say though. Flashscore takes a look at all the contenders.

The Golden Boot: How it works

Only players who are active in the top leagues of the European Football Association (UEFA) are considered for the Golden Boot award. This means that goalscorers from the lower leagues are just as ineligible as professionals from South America or Asia.

Goals from European competitions or domestic cup competitions are not included in the ranking.

A points system was introduced in 1997 to take into account the strengths of various leagues. This is based on the UEFA five-year ranking. Each league is assigned a multiplication factor - the so-called country factor.

In the five strongest leagues (Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1), a goal is worth 2 points. In Portugal, Belgium or Austria, on the other hand, a goal is worth 1.5 points. In the weakest leagues in Europe, each goal is only worth one point.

1st) Harry Kane

England - Bayern Munich (GER) - 27 goals - 54 points - 11 league games to go

Last summer, Harry Kane moved to Bayern Munich for a transfer fee of €100 million. At the German record champions, the English striker wanted to finally put an end to his long title drought. However, although Kane settled in immediately in Munich, Bayern are facing their first title-less season in eleven years. They are currently eight points behind league leaders Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. In the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League, they have to try and overturn a 1-0 deficit against Lazio.

Kane was almost unstoppable, especially in the first half of the season. He scored 22 goals in 17 games. The 30-year-old scored three hat-tricks - including in a 4-0 win against long-time rivals Borussia Dortmund. His dream goal against Darmstadt 98 was particularly memorable - an incredible lob from the halfway line.

Recently, the England captain has suffered from a slight lack of goals. Although he scored a brace in the 2-1 win against RB Leipzig, he has missed a number of really good opportunities in the previous five Bundesliga games and "only" scored three goals.

Kane clearly exceeds his xG value of 20.9. The fact that Bayern need to try and reel back Leverkusen in the coming weeks and are reliant on him in attack could benefit him just as much as his almost non-existent injury history. He is the absolute top favourite for the 2023/24 Golden Boot.

2nd) Lautaro Martinez

Argentina - Inter Milan (ITA) - 23 goals - 46 points - 12 league games left

To say that Lautaro Martinez is in the form of his life is no exaggeration. At Inter Milan, the Argentinian world champion is not only captain but also a key player. In the past, he has sometimes been overshadowed by Romelu Lukaku or Edin Dzeko. But now, the 26-year-old plays the leading role in Simone Inzaghi's system.

As confidently as Inter are leading the Serie A table, Martinez is just as confidently leading the goalscoring charts. His consistency is impressive. In his last 10 league appearances, he has scored at least one goal eight times. His best performance came at the end of September against relegation candidates Salernitana. He scored all of the goals for the Nerazzurri in their 4-0 win.

Lautaro Martinez is the be-all and end-all at Inter.
AFP

In December, an adductor injury forced him out for a short time period. On Wednesday, they won 4-0 against Atalanta at home in the San Siro. He showed all his skills in the game, finessing the ball superbly into the corner after a wonderful move. He also made his mark in his general play.

Martinez has the biggest difference between the xG value (14.5) and the actual goals scored (23). An indication that his run will probably not last. If - contrary to expectations - he continues his incredibly strong form in the coming weeks, he will be right up there besides Harry Kane.

3rd) Kylian Mbappe

France - Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) - 21 goals - 42 points - 11 league games left

21 games, 21 goals: Kylian Mbappe is a phenomenon. The likelihood of him lifting the Ligue 1 top scorer crown for the sixth time at the end of the season is huge. His move to Real Madrid is probably a done deal, but PSG coach Luis Enrique is still relying heavily on his pace and finishing.

The 25-year-old Frenchman has been almost unstoppable, especially at the start of the season. Mbappe scored seven goals during the first five matchdays. However, he has only scored three times in his last five appearances.

Mbappe has suffered from a slight lack of pace recently.
Profimedia

The 2018 world champion has only slightly exceeded his xG value of 18.5. This is also due to the fact that he is the penalty taker in Paris. While Kane and Martinez only scored three times from the spot, Mbappe has eight penalties to his name.

It is unlikely that he will win the Golden Boot for the first time in his career, especially as he is not a classic centre-forward.

7th) Erling Haaland

Norway - Manchester City (ENG) - 17 goals - 34 points - 12 league games left

Defending champion Haaland set a new record in the English Premier League last season with 36 goals. Despite initial scepticism, he fitted in immediately in his debut season at Manchester City and celebrated the European treble in Pep Guardiola's team.

This season, the Norwegian is still lagging somewhat behind those high expectations. An injury put him out of action for weeks during the winter. He then scored just three goals in six league appearances.

On Tuesday, Erling Haaland proved that form is temporary, class is permanent. City dispatched promoted Luton Town 6-2 in the FA Cup. The Terminator scored five goals in the process.

Although the goals don't count towards the Golden Shoe honours, it proves that the Scandinavian colossus is still a force to be reckoned with.

However, he hasn't matched his xG value. According to the statistics, Haaland should already have scored 19.2 goals in the current Premier League season. Anyone who knows him though, knows that he will likely correct this. He should not be written off just yet.

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