It’s not often the most-celebrated award in football, but there was perhaps even less fanfare than usual when Ciro Immobile was awarded Europe’s Golden Shoe – the award for the most potent goalscorer among Europe’s top leagues – for the 2019/20 season. Immobile has been phenomenal for Lazio in recent years, and anyone who scores 36 goals in Serie A deserves huge credit; even if the Italian league is not as defensively-minded as it was in the past.
But for all the praise that should be heaped on Immobile – and we believe he is one of the world’s most underrated players – he is not the best striker in the game right now. While opinions on “the best” will always be subjective, it’s hard to make a case against Robert Lewandowski right now. The Pole has hit a stunning 54 goals in 45 games this season, with 34 coming in the Bundesliga, 13 (so far) in the Champions League and 7 in the DFB Pokal. If you tally in his goals for Poland, he has hit well over 60 goals in a calendar year.
13 goals so far in the Champions League
Bayern Munich should not be considered a one-man team, of course, but no star has shined brighter than Lewandowski this season. Success in the Bundesliga is expected for the Bavarians – eight successive titles underline that fact – but it is the Champions League where Munich and Lewandowski have really been impressive this season. This is being written before the Quarter-Final clash with Barcelona, but 13 goals for the Pole so far speak volumes about his prowess. If Bayern can get past Barcelona, there is a reasonable chance that he equals Cristiano Ronaldo’s haul of 17 UCL goals achieved in the 2013-14 season.
For sure, talking about Lewandowski as a great striker is nothing new. But those who have observed him play over the last year believe he has stepped up a gear. We have non yet seen official odds for the Ballon D’Or this season, but Lewandowski is sure to be in with his best chance of winning and is expected to show up in 888 betting tips as having a decent shot of success.
Champions League may be integral to Ballon D’Or
When the odds are released, Lionel Messi will likely be favourite at the top of the betting markets. It’s obviously difficult to argue with the diminutive Argentine’s candidacy as the best player in world football. Ronaldo will also be in with a shot, although his form has dipped ever so slightly at Juventus. Virgil Van Dijk, Kevin De Bruyne, Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and Sadio Mane will also be mentioned as possible winners.
But we still can’t help but think that Lewandowski has been a cut above the rest over the last 12 months. The problem, however, is that judgement of these things has to be viewed through a specific lens – wider success. If, for example, Messi led Barcelona to the Champions League crown or Kevin De Bruyne brought a first-ever Champions League crown to Manchester City, then their stock would rise considerably in the race to be named the best player in world football.
As such, we cannot be sure about Lewandowski’s chances. By the time you read this, Munich may have been sent packing in the Champions League by Barcelona and Ballon D’Or rival, Lionel Messi. But on the strength of performances alone this season, Lewandowski has been the best in our view. And, if he does deliver a long-awaited Champions League title to Bayern Munich, then Lewandowski should clear a bit of room in his personal trophy cabinet.