Ronaldo, Messi and the candidates to win European Golden Shoe in 2017-18

Lionel Messi Barcelona
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The Barcelona and Real Madrid stars are out to claim the prize for the fifth time in their careers, but face great competition from across Europe

The 2017-18 campaign has been ongoing for months for some of Europe's top-flights, meaning the race for the European Golden Shoe has already started.

While Cork City's Sean Maguire and Albert Prosa of Estonian side FCI Thallinn are currently leading the pack with 20 and 19 goals respectively, they are unlikely to remain there for long as the continent's big-guns prepare for their big kick-off.

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The Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A all commence in the coming fortnight and the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Romelu Lukaku will be hoping to start banging the goals in to end Lionel Messi's reign as the top league goalscorer in Europe.

Goal takes a look at the players in with a chance of winning the award this year, (with their goal tally of last season in brackets).


GFX Info Lionel Messi Barcelona 2016-17 league

Ever the favourite, the Barcelona star is the reigning champion after finishing last season with 37 goals. This earned him an unbeatable 74 points in the European Golden Shoe standings based on the points system which sees players' goal tallies multiplied by a weighting depending on the strength of their league. Players from the top five championships, including La Liga, have their tallies multipled by a factor of 2.

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A four-time winner of the Golden Shoe, there will be a greater onus on him to lead the team than in recent years after the break-up of the devastating MSN partnership. His goals will be ever more vital in Ernesto Valverde’s first campaign, so the 30-year-old will likely be near the top again.


GFX Info Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 16-17 La Liga

A dream season which included the league and Champions League double with Real Madrid was followed by a tumultuous few months for Ronaldo. Although reports he wants to leave Madrid have come to an end, his tax case continues and he will be desperate to return his focus to football.

With 42 goals in 46 games in all competitions, he was once again the integral player for a historic side. The 32-year-old has pledged to win more trophies with Zinedine Zidane's side and will only use his off-field troubles as motivation to push for further glory.

However, he will have to prove more clinical in La Liga than he did last season after coming in 11th in the Golden Shoe chart with 50 points.


Neymar PSG 04082017

That €222 million transfer fee comes with huge expectation for the 25-year-old and the hassle and chaos that surrounded his move to Paris Saint-Germain only heaps more on. However, the Brazil star has shown throughout his career he can deal with pressure and will be out to make an immediate mark as the undisputed star in Ligue 1.

No longer in Lionel Messi’s shadow at Barcelona, Neymar will have plenty of service on the field for PSG. His team-mate Edinson Cavani will also be a potential contender for the European Golden Shoe after the Uruguayan struck 35 goals in 36 games last season.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund held off vast interest from across Europe and China to retain last term’s Bundesliga top goalscorer and he will be vital in their quest to put together a strong title challenge.

The Gabon international has been open about his dream of joining Real Madrid and another immense season will boost his chances of making a big money move to one of Europe’s elite sides.


Robert Lewandowski scores Bayern Munich Supercup

Lewandowski was locked in a race with Aubameyang for the Torjagerkanone from day one last season and his agent said the Poland striker was devastated after losing by one goal, causing a rift between him and Bayern Munich.

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Hs 30 goals were enough to win the prize in 2015-16 and he was leading the race until the last day, when his Borussia Dortmund counterpart netted twice to leapfrog him.

He will be even more determined to win the honour in 2017-18 and Bayern will want to do more to support him this time around in order to keep him happy.


Luis Suarez Las Palmas Barcelona LaLiga 14052017

Suarez will have to take on a huge chunk of the workload in the Barcelona attack in the wake of Neymar’s departure. However, as the second top scorer in La Liga with 29 goals and No.1 in the assist charts with 13, he will be well up to the task.

The 30-year-old Uruguay international won the Golden Shoe in 2015-16 with an awesome 40 goals.


Harry Kane Tottenham Premier League

The Tottenham striker won the Premier League Golden Boot with an incredible 29 goals from just 30 games.

Last season’s runners-up have had a quiet summer and will be relying heavily on the England star to continue his consistent improvement into 2017-18.

Kane was a big threat against Juventus in the recent friendly at Wembley, scoring past Gianluigi Buffon after 10 minutes, suggesting he is getting into good form for the new campaign.


Lacazette Arsenal

It is a must that Arsene Wenger delivers this season after prolonging his stay at Arsenal.

In the £52m signing of Lacazette, they have signed a player guaranteed to deliver goals. The No.9’s long awaited Premier League arrival comes after another superb season with Lyon, in which he scored 28 Ligue 1 goals in just 84 shots.

The France international should get better service at the Gunners and his goals will be of better value in the Golden Shoe chart as he moves from a league with a factor of 1.5 to one of 2.


Dries Mertens Napoli

By the start of December 2016, the Belgium international had just three Serie A goals to his name for Napoli. When he scored in the 4-2 win over Sampdoria on the last game of the campaign, he took his tally up to 28.

The 30-year-old was a revelation at centre-forward when filling in for the injured Arkadiusz Milik and he wants to hold onto the role in 2017-18.

Maurizio Sarri will find it difficult to overlook the ex-PSV star after such a fine season as the Partenopei target a serious title challenge.


GFX Info Romelu Lukaku Everton 2016-17 league

With 85 goals from 186 Premier League games to his name, Romelu Lukaku is tasked with bringing plenty of goals to Manchester United after his £75m move from Everton.

The Belgium international is targeting “trophies before everything” with the Old Trafford club and will be looking to improve on his 25 from 37 games for the Toffees last season.


Higuain Juventus Real Madrid

Although he finished with a good tally in his first season at Juventus, the Argentine fell short of the 36 Serie A goals he netted for Napoli in 2015-16.

With Roma, Napoli, AC Milan and Inter all preparing to launch title challenges, Massimiliano Allegri will need his €90m signing to prove his worth even further to avoid a close battle.  


Bas Dost Sporting

The Dutchman finished just six points behind Messi after an incredible debut season with Sporting CP, scoring 34 goals in 31 appearances.

After a good pre-season which included goals in wins over Monaco and Fiorentina, the 28-year-old Netherlands international has promised to score even more to help Sporting challenge for the Primeira Liga title.


Alvaro Morata Chelsea 2017

Chelsea’s big signing did not make a great impression when he failed to convert a penalty in the Community Shield shootout defeat to Arsenal, but he will get many more chances to shine in Antonio Conte’s side.

He grew frustrated by being stuck on the bench at Real Madrid, but managed to score 20 goals in all competitions – 15 in 26 La Liga games. Now set to lead the attack for the Premier League champions, he must start well to fill the 20 goal hole left by Diego Costa.


Kylian Mbappe Monaco

All eyes will be on the 18-year-old striker who has been linked with huge bids from Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

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Whether he stays to help Monaco defend their Ligue 1 crown or opts for a move, he will be hoping to improve on his 15 goals from last season to maintain the hype. But the early signs and his six Champions League goals last term suggest there is plenty more to come.

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Antoine Griezmann Atletico Madrid Napoli Audi Cup

The France international showed his loyalty to Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid by remaining with the club throughout their transfer ban despite interest from the Premier League.

The 26-year-old is not expected to stay for much longer, though, and will hope to increase his odds of a big move with another impressive season with the capital club.