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Hard luck Haaland! Messi is still Europe’s best finisher

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Hard luck Haaland! Messi is still Europe’s best finisher

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Who finished first in the top five European leagues? Can there be a viable alternative to Erling Haaland? The 22-year-old has tallied an astonishing 52 goals across all competitions, including 36 in the league. He also has the most non-penalty goals and is first in xG.

Would it astonish you to learn that Haaland’s shooting quality is not the best? In this regard, Lionel Messi continues to reign supreme.

First, let’s examine what makes a player a strong finisher in greater detail. Simply put, it is the ability to place the ball in the back of the net, which begins not only with taking numerous shots but also with keeping them on target.

When examining the top 10 players with the most strikes on goal, the usual suspects are present.

Players with the Best Shooting Numbers

RankPlayerShots on Target P90Shots P90SoT%Goals
1Kylian Mbappe2.444.7351.526
2=Robert Lewandowski1.924.3144.521
2=Serge Gnabry1.923.9948.113
4Lois Openda1.853.7449.519
5Lautaro Martinez1.824.4640.820
6=Victor Osimhen1.764.5838.323
6=Erling Haaland1.763.6947.736
8Lionel Messi1.754.0743.115
9Karim Benzema1.664.7934.717
10Marcus Thuram1.643.2550.613

Haaland’s ability to score goals is undeniable given that he has done so despite only having taken the sixth-most shots (P90) overall.

But many of the players on the aforementioned list share the trait of playing for league-dominant teams, which makes them more likely to attempt shots and score goals.

Messi remains Europe’s finishing king

It is now simpler to predict the likelihood that a goal-scoring opportunity will result in a goal because to more sophisticated data like xG. Most elite finishers follow a common trend in that they frequently outperform their xG. It is not unexpected to find Haaland among the top 10 xG outperformers, but several new names emerge, including Harry Kane, Boulaye Dia, Elye Wahi, and Sheraldo Becker. These are the players that don’t represent the finest attacking teams but can nonetheless make an impression just based on their ability to finish.

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Therefore, it is still unknown how much of a player’s goal-scoring efficiency is attributable to their finishing skills as opposed to their team’s capacity to generate higher-caliber chances for them. It’s interesting to learn about the average quality of the above players’ opportunities to score goals.

Players who get the best chances

RankPlayerNPxG/shot
1Erling Haaland0.20
2=Robert Lewandowski0.18
2=Marcus Thuram018
4Lois Openda0.17
5=Kylian Mbappe0.15
5=Victor Osimhen0.15
7Karim Benzema0.14
8=Serge Gnabry0.13
8=Lautaro Martinez0.13
10Lionel Messi0.12

Manchester City gives Haaland exceptionally high-quality opportunities with a non-penalty xG per shot (NPxG/shot) rating of 0.20. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the Norwegian team scored so many goals.

If Haaland scores the most goals, can we still state that he is the best finisher?

With the use of SciSports’ advanced measurements, it is possible to concentrate just on a player’s shooting ability and disregard everything else.

The Post Shot xG (PSxG) metric assesses the quality of the shots on target by taking into consideration the ultimate location of the shot. It is a post-shot version of xG.

Frequently, a poor finish can result in a goal due to a goalkeeper error, or a superb finish goes unnoticed because the keeper makes an unbelievable miracle save. The distinction between xG and PSxG adds shooting goals only on the basis of a player’s ability to score.

RankPlayerxGPSxGSGA
1Lionel Messi0.450.6+0.15
2Erling Haaland0.740.87+0.13
3Kylian Mbappe0.700.80+0.10
4Serge Gnabry0.460.55+0.09
5=Lois Openda0.590.64+0.05
5=Marcus Thuram0.490.54+0.05
7Robert Lewandowski0.650.68+0.03
8Lautaro Martinez0.590.56-0.03
9Karim Benzema0.880.84-0.04
10Victor Osimhen0.750.63-0.12

Despite having less good opportunities and shooting fewer attempts, Lionel Messi tops this list, proving why Barcelona is so keen to have him return.

Although Lewandowski, Lautaro Martinez, Karim Benzema, and Osimhen are still excellent goal scorers, their shooting might be improved due to the quantity and caliber of the opportunities they are receiving.

But who among the players listed above is the most valued finisher in the major five leagues?

The player with the highest shooting goals added (+0.23) is Elye Wahi, who recently scored four goals in one game.

Wissam Sheralldo Becker (+0.10), Ben Yedder (+0.18), and Niclas Fullkrug (+0.15) are three additional unexpected top performers with solid finishing abilities.

When Haaland reaches his peak, it is terrifying to imagine what he will do on the field. He enters the game with a fantastic +0.13 shooting goals added P90.

(Only forwards with at least 1500 minutes of playing time and at least 10 goals scored are included in order to eliminate any outliers.)

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