Zlatan Ibrahimovic can become the first overseas player to be the leading scorer in the Premier League in his first season in England. Great strikers like Thierry Henry and Sergio Aguerro took at least one season to top the scoring charts. The fallout from England’s debacle at Euro 2016 can see Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy fall off the pace so Diego Costa back to his best at Chelsea can make the payout places in the leading marksman market. Michy Batshuayi is another interesting contender from abroad.
Kane scored the most goals last season and his tally of 25 for Tottenham meant he was the first English player to be the leading Premier League scorer since Kevin Phillips scored 30 league goals for Sunderland in the 1999-2000 season. In the last seven years a player had to find the net at least 20 times to outscore his contempories. In the Premier League era no foreign player has won this honour in his debut season in England. Arsenal’s strikers have scored most goals more times than players from other clubs.
In every season since and including 2001-2002 the leading scorer in the Premier League has played for Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester City before Kane scored his goals for Spurs. Three seasons ago Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge were first and second playing for Liverpool and that is the only occasion in the Premier League era that players from the same club were in the top two in the scoring charts. Alan Shearer and Robin Van Persie are the only leading Premier League scorers for two clubs.
In the European Championship finals the winner of the Golden Boot is a slight variation on the top scorer market. If two or more players are tied the number of assists determines who receives the honour. Antoine Griezmann made this redundant but in the past helping colleagues score a goal had to be taken into account. In the Premier League top scorer betting the place terms are one quarter the odds, the first four places and in the case of ties dead heat rules apply.
However, Paddy Power offer one fifth the odds for six places which is an excellent concession. Three players finished joint sixth last season after each scoring 14 goals. The only ties for first place were in 1997-98 season when Dion Dublin, Michael Owen and Chris Sutton scored 18 goals and in the following season when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Owen and Dwight Yorke also scored 18 goals. In 24 seasons there have only been 19 ties for the winner and top 5 payout places.
Ibrahimovic is now 34 but looks like being Jose Mourinho’s first choice striker for United. The manager has said Wayne Rooney will play up front so the dynamic between the two high-profile players will be fascinating. Rooney has been the main man at Old Trafford for more than ten years but Zlatan does not come across as a person who likes to share the limelight. They could play as a pair but Mourinho has been an advocate of a lone striker in the past but he may adapt for the greater good.
Football people often refer to players and managers as winners almost as a mythical quality but that is the whole point of sport. Mourinho has won the main league in four countries while Zlatan has been a champion in five different leagues. However, they have never won the English Premier League together and their prospects will be greatly enhanced if Ibrahimovic improves his career scoring strike rate in what could be his only season playing for Manchester United.
Ibrahimovic has scored 392 goals in 677 domestic matches. That gives him a career strike rate of 0.57 goals per match which equates to 22 goals over a full 38 match Premier League season. That tally has been enough to be the leading scorer in only three of the last ten seasons. Ibrahimovic may need to score 30 league goals this season to top the scoring charts which means United will probably finish first or second. The leading scorer does not automatically play for the champions but it does help.
If we are disregarding Kane and Vardy on the basis of mental letdown from Euro 2016 Costa could get in the mix. He had a stunning first season for Chelsea but suffered last time from the soap opera around Mourinho’s demise at the club. Batshuayi could be the dark horse but the more solid bet is Ibrahimovic to be the leading scorer in the Premier League in the upcoming season.