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With the 2022-23 English Premier League season set to open Friday, we’re dusting off our crystal ball to predict who will take home perhaps the EPL’s most prestigious individual prize. Presented to the leading goal scorer since the award was first handed out in 1993 to Teddy Sheringham, the Golden Boot represents the apex of offensive prowess. Its winners constitute a who's who of footballing greats, including scoring machine Thierry Henry, who still holds the league record with four titles. With so much talent in the league – from savvy mainstays to bright newcomers – the battle for the scoring crown figures to be intense. Who will be the latest to carve their names into the history books? Without further ado, here’s a look at the top candidates we expect to emerge as the frontrunners for this year’s coveted prize.
The 22-year-old Norwegian phenom who recently joined Manchester City was already a beast on the field, but now the man-child has packed on an additional 11 kilos of pure muscle, elevating the elite striker’s already formidable presence. His scoring efficiency is simply lethal. Prior to joining Man City, Haaland scored 86 goals in 89 games for his former club Borussia Dortmund across all competitions. Last season, the boyish wonder converted 52% of his on-target attempts – topping both Premier League scoring stalwarts Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min at 37% and 49%, respectively. Though he scored within 12 minutes in his unofficial debut against Bayern Munich July 23 at the Green Bay Packer’s Lambeau Field, the Sky Blues’ prized acquisition failed to convert an open attempt during his official debut days later against Liverpool. Squandering the opportunity sowed internal doubt, and the youngster, renowned for his speed, appeared gassed. After the match, City’s all-time leading scorer Sergio Aguero, who notched 184 career goals for the club, used his Twitch channel to heavily criticize Haaland for his lackluster performance. Haaland will look to right the ship and have a bounce-back match against West Ham Sunday.
Though Harry Kane’s Tottenham partner Son co-won the Golden Boot last year with Salah, the English striker, who's won the award three times, including in back-to-back seasons (2015-16 and 2016-17) will seek to rectify last year’s disappointing season in which he tallied "just" 17 goals in 38 appearances (which was still good for fourth in the league). There’s a lot at stake for Kane as his aspirations for another title would tie him with Thierry Henry, Arsenal’s legendary striker, with a record four Golden Boot awards. Kane will have a secret weapon to hopefully propel him toward his goal: Ivan Perisic. The Spurs acquired the versatile Croatian wing-back who is a master at sending dangerous balls deep into his opponent’s territory while also ranking in the 99th percentile with his 5.2 touches/match in the penalty box. That should generate plenty of chances for Kane, who's posted a whopping 243 goals in 377 matches since making his debut for Tottenham in 2009.
The affable 30-year-old Egyptian might not have the size and stature of Haaland and Kane, but his footwork, ball-handling and field vision are unparalleled in the sport. (Just check out what he did last season.) The wizard of Anfield impressively ranks in the 91st percentile or better in six major statistical categories (among attacking midfielders and wingers): non-penalty goals (97%), non-penalty expected goals (99%), shots (99%), assists (91%), passes that assist shots (93%) and expected goals plus assists that create shots (99%). He tied Son Heung-min last year with 23 goals to earn his third Golden Boot title, but as the season barreled toward the finish line, it looked like Liverpool’s forward still had plenty left in the tank. As a tactical savant on the pitch, his play resembles an orchestra conductor, slowing and speeding up the game cadence to his liking until an opening emerges and he crescendos the match with a goal. Winner winner, chicken dinner!
Of course, there are some other names to keep an eye out for. As mentioned, Son is coming off an astonishing season with Tottenham, scoring a career high 23 league goals, good for joint Golden Boot win with Salah. Even more impressive? All of his strikes were from open play (as opposed to penalty kicks). There's also Liverpool’s recent acquisition Darwin Nunez, who joined the Reds from Benfica. The Uruguayan striker is relentless in the box, and with a rocket for a shot; he was the Portuguese League’s most elite scorer, netting 26 goals last season. And never count out Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo either. Though things have been tenuous at Old Trafford with the superstar, Ronaldo’s built his brand as a historically brilliant scorer who, if there’s a sliver of daylight, will let it rip from anywhere. He’s also a consummate pro and won’t go anywhere where he wouldn't be successful at amplifying his brand – that means he must score. After all, as the ultimate pro Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
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