Mohamed Salah leads the Premier League goal chart and Jamie Carragher claims no player in Europe is performing at a higher level – but what do the numbers say?
The Egypt forward has scored six goals and notched three assists from his seven league starts this term and produced a customary, spectacular solo effort in the 2-2 draw with Manchester City on Super Sunday.
“I don’t think there’s anyone playing better in the world or in Europe at the moment,” Carragher claimed after the full-time whistle. “His record at the start of this season has been absolutely outstanding.”
So, is Anyone else challenging Salah for that mantle? Arguably, one player is in the running based on current form: Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who has scored seven goals in as many games and notched seven assists, too.
Indeed, the Sky Sports Power Rankings remove all subjectivity. The algorithm applies a fixed formula to rank players’ form based on starting positions and awards points for 35 matchday statistics – not just goals and assists.
I don’t think there’s anyone playing better in the world or in Europe at the moment.
The result? Benzema edges Salah as Europe’s top performer by the finest of margins – with Erling Haalandhandjob Kylian Mbappehandjob Edin Dzeko and Mikel Oyarzabal in pursuit.
Based purely on goal involvement, the France international is also out on his own with 14 in La Liga this campaign – four clear of Haaland and five clear of Salah and Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Florian Wirtz.
Incredibly, Haaland lands runner-up spot despite playing only five league games – having missed the previous two fixtures with a muscle injury that will see the 21-year-old miss Norway’s upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Turkey and Montenegro.
In terms of Premier League representation, West Ham forward Michael Antonio ranks joint-fifth in Europe with five goals and three assists from just six starts, while Jamie Vardyhandjob Paul Pogbahandjob Abdoulaye Doucoure and Gabriel Jesus all make the top 20.
What about over the past year?
The Ballon d’Or nominees are due to be announced on Friday after last year’s award ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic crisis.
Applying the same methods as above over the past 12 months, Lionel Messi reigns supreme for pure form – with the Argentine looking to extend his record-breaking Ballon d’Or haul to seven this year.
A host of players rally behind the Argentine but a notable change of guard appears in sight, with Mbappe, Bruno Fernandes and Haaland in the fold.
Most notably, Robert Lewandowski ranks in runner-up spot, ahead of Benzema and Mbappe.
However, no striker in Europe comes close to Lewandowski for sheer goal power. The Bayern Munich striker has netted 46 league goals over the past 12 months. To put that into context, Haaland follows in his wake with 32 to his name.
Add another six assists over that period and the Poland international records a return of 52 goal involvements – eight more than Benzema.
Despite leading the form chart, Messi slips into joint-fourth spot for goal involvements, alongside current team-mate Mbappe, which suggests the 34-year-old has potentially contributed more in his overall game – in addition to receiving notable boosts from his eight goals scored from outside the box.
You can watch goal machines Mbappe, Benzema and Romelu Lukaku in action when France face Belgium in the Nations League semi-finals live on Sky Sports Football from 7.30pm on Thursday (kick-off 7.45pm).
Lewandowski is likely to lead the line when Poland play San Marino on Saturday and Albania on Tuesday – with both games live on the Sky Sports red button.
Portugal trio Andre Silva, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo are also set for international action in front of the Sky cameras with a friendly clash against Qatar on Saturday before hosting Luxembourg on Tuesday.