As we move into the holiday season, we are almost done with all the league matches for the calendar year. The next time we see the players take the pitch will be in the new year.
Let us look at 5 players who were involved in the most number of goals in 2018.
#5 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)
Stats: 35 goals and 14 assists (47 apps)
The Egyptian came into the spotlight through his exceptional performances for Liverpool which saw them reach the UEFA Champions League finals. Mohamed Salah or Mo Salah as we popularly call him thus earned the nickname, ‘The Egyptian Pharaoh’.
Salah was directly involved in 49 goals in the calendar year with 35 goals and 14 assists. He, unfortunately, missed out in the UEFA Champions League Final and the first two group games in the World Cup due to an unfortunate injury. However, he scored in Liverpool’s impressive semi-final win against his old club Roma.
Although people label Mo Salah as a one-season wonder, it is not the case. Salah has scored 11 goals and assisted 6 in the Premier League this season. Not only that he scored the all-important goal against Napoli in the virtual knockout match in the Champions League 18/19 to secure Liverpool’s passage to the knockout rounds.
But even after his best efforts, Mo Salah could only finish 5th on this list. And it is not because he hasn’t been exceptional. It is just because there are four others who outplayed him.
#4 Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid and France)
Stats: 33 goals and 18 assists (52 apps)
Antoine Griezmann finished third in the Ballon d’Or 2018 race, ahead of Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe. The Frenchman also expressed his disappointment in not going on to actually win the award. Griezmann won the FIFA World Cup with France and the Europa League with Atletico Madrid in 2018.
He scored a total of four goals at the FIFA World Cup, three of them being penalties. In the 2018/19 season, he has scored 7 goals and registered 5 assists. In addition, he has scored 4 in the Champions League 2018/19 while assisting two.
The amusing thing about Griezmann has to be his celebration following scoring. He mimics the L-celebration from Fortnite game. The Frenchman will end the year with 33 goals and 18 assists to his name. What more? Griezmann scored the lone goal in Atletico Madrid’s last game of 2018 and that too through a penalty.
It has been one of the better years for the Frenchman and he would hope to add to his involvement in goals in the coming year. One of the tougher fixtures for Atletico would be the RO16 clash against Juventus.
#3 Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid, and Juventus)
Stats: 40 goals and 13 assists (44 apps)
The Portuguese ace left Real Madrid after 9 long and successful years in Spain which saw him winning four UEFA Champions League titles. Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus for €100 million.
If there is one thing that hasn’t changed about him, is his scoring record. He scored goals when he was at Madrid, he scored with the National team and he is scoring in Italy as well.
Cristiano scored the Herculean bicycle kick against Juventus and also stepped up under pressure to slot home the tie-winning penalty against them.
He scored a brilliant hat-trick against Spain in the World Cup, has been dealing with records at Juventus, breaking one after the other. The current Juventus forward gathered 40 goals and 13 assists across the calendar year.
The Portuguese captain makes the list largely on basis of the goals that he scored. He is a pure goal-machine. Among the top 5, he has the least number of assists.
However, scoring he must do. He has been off-colour in the Champions League 2018/19 so far and that has to change if Juventus is to have any chance of penetrating the defensive Atletico.
#2 Luis Suarez (FC Barcelona and Uruguay)
Stats: 32 goals and 24 assists (49 apps)
Say that again, would you? Yes, you read it right. Luis Suarez is the person involved in the second-most number of goals in 2018. He is the wildcard, isn’t he? He is the surprising element for sure.
Luis Suarez might not be the beast of a striker that he once was, who left defenders on the back foot always. He has been missing a lot of chances and could not finish somewhat tough opportunities that he would have converted two years back.
In a time when we all are busy talking about his replacement at Barcelona, he is just being more and more involved in the scoring.
The Uruguayan has scored 32 goals and assisted 24 in 2018. His assist count is astounding for a striker. But his memorable assists could be recounted easily, the lobbed pass to Cavani from the outside of the foot in the World Cup, the lobbed pass to Rafinha against Inter, the Rabona assist in the International Friendly and many more.
He has been scoring in all stages except for Europe. Suarez is second behind Messi in LaLiga top scorers list for 2018/19.
Because of his balanced involvement in the game rather than purely poaching for the goal unlike Kane, Cavani, and Aubameyang, he finds himself way ahead of those in terms of involvement in goal. The only other strikers in the top 10 are Lewandowski (48 G+A) and Cavani (39 G+A).
Barcelona needs him to score in the Champions League as well.
#1 Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona and Argentina)
Stats: 47 goals and 23 assists (48 apps)
How good is he? Who is the best player in the world? The best in the world, bar none. These are the lines through which commentators try to describe the diminutive Argentine. But, superlatives won’t do justice to his ability. We cannot describe what Lionel Messi actually does on the pitch.
It is uncanny to outscore goal-poachers and also stay among the top assist makers. Luis Suarez and Dimitri Payet are the only two players with more assists than Messi in 2018.
Despite all of this, Messi’s heat map shows clearly that he wanders in the central midfield area for most of the time. When Arthur is not present on the pitch, he always has to drop deep to collect the ball. And he does it while scoring.
Cristiano Ronaldo had the edge in terms of goal ratio before the start of the new season. But come now, Messi has the best goal ratio in Europe for the calendar year 2018 (0.97).
Messi scored 47 goals and assisted 23 in 2018. It is still a myth as to why he did not win the Ballon d’Or only due to the fact that he had a poor World Cup.
The Argentine has scored some brilliant goals this season including the hat-trick on matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League and the brace at Wembley. He assisted 23 times, 2 of them at the World Cup against France.
Let us hope that this man gives us another year of magical performances. In terms of scoring and assisting, Lionel Messi is clear at the top in Europe’s top 5 leagues by a whopping margin of 14 goals.