Golden Shoe and Espadrille

Europe's finest battle it out

Last Updated: 03/02/12 1:14pm

Rhodes: leads Golden Shoe

The race for the greatest individual prizes in football is back on!

Over the last 10 year the Golden Shoe and Espadrille have become two of the most prestigious awards in the game, with past winners including Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba and last year's winner, Gary Hooper.

For decades now kids in playgrounds, men and women at work and friends sat in front of the box have asked; who is the best striker around right now?

Is it the player who scores the most, or the forward that always seems to pop up and score in the important matches?

Well here at Soccer AM we think the players with the best goals-to-games ratio should be recognised, which is why every week for the remainder of the season we will be revealing who, in our opinion, are the best strikers in Europe.

The Golden Shoe takes into account all the players in the top four tiers of the English game as well as the Scottish Premier League, while the Espadrille will be focusing on the top forwards from Italy's Serie A, Spain's Primera Division and of course our very own Premier League.

To qualify, players must have played in at least half of their side's matches this season and only league goals count.

So without further ado here are the most prolific strikers in Europe right now...

The Golden Shoe

Jordan Rhodes has been linked with a host of Premier League and Championship clubs during the January transfer window, but keeping hold of him could be the best piece of business Huddersfield Town have ever done!

The Scottish striker has smashed in an incredible 27 goals in just 24 appearances this season, including 13 in his last seven matches.

With figures like that there's little wonder that Tottenham and West Ham had been keeping tabs on him and he comfortably leads the way in the race for the Golden Shoe.

In hot pursuit of the former Ipswich star are no less than six Premier League big hitters, including Arsenal hit-man Robin van Persie who will be keen to emulate his extraordinary 35 goals in 2011.

While Everton new boy Nikica Jelavic will hoping he can continue his goal scoring exploits from north of the border with Rangers, down south.

Southampton's Rickie Lambert, Brentford's Gary Alexander and Barnet's Izale McLeod complete the top 10, with all four tiers of English football represented.

Jordan RhodesHuddersfield Town27241.13
Robin van PersieArsenal19230.83
Demba BaNewcastle15190.79
Wayne RooneyManchester United13200.65
Rickie LambertSouthampton16250.64
Nikica JelavicEverton14220.64
Sergio AgueroManchester City14220.64
Gary AlexanderBrentford12190.63
Izale McLeodBarnet16260.62

The Golden Espadrille

Lionel Messi might be the greatest player in the world, but Cristiano Ronaldo is the most prolific forward in Europe right now... and that's a fact!

The ex-Manchester United winger must wish he was born in a different decade, because if it were not for the diminutive Argentinian magician there is little doubt he would be top dog.

The matter of who is the best is, of course, entirely subjective. However, numbers never lie and with a goals to games ratio of 1.20, Ronaldo, not Messi, is the man leading the Golden Espadrille.

Messi is in hot pursuit though, with the competition between the two men mirroring that of their clubs - Barcelona and Real Madrid. Barca may have the upper hand when the two teams come head-to-head, but it is Real who are leading the way in La Liga, after opening up a seven point gap at the top of the table.

The only other representatives from Spain come in the shape of Ronaldo's team-mate Gonzalo Higuain in ninth, and Atletico Madrid star Falcao, who has hit the ground running since his €40 million move to the Vincente Calderon in August.

Meanwhile, over in Italy Milan missed the chance to go top of Serie A after a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Lazio.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been the Rossoneri's star man thus far with 15 goals in just 18 appearances, but was unable to prevent defeat to fourth-placed Lazio.

It means Juventus remain at the summit, a point clear of Milan and three of Udinese, who closed the gap on Milan thanks to Antonio Di Natale's winner - his 15th goal of the campaign - in a 2-1 win against Lecce.

The excellent form of Ibrahimovic and Di Natale has earned them both a place amongst Europe's finest goal scorers. They sit in third and seventh place respectively with Genoa's Rodrigo Palacio currently propping up the table.

Cristiano RonaldoReal Madrid24201.20
Lionel MessiBarcelona22201.10
Zlatan IbrahimovicAC Milan15180.83
Robin van PersieArsenal19230.83
FalcaoAtletico Madrid 14170.82
Demba BaNewcastle15190.79
Antonio Di NataleUdinese15200.75
Gonzalo HiguainReal Madrid14190.74
Rodrigo PalacioGenoa11150.73