Whatever way you slice it, Erling Haaland is having an epic debut season in English football having already rattled away 42 goals in his first 36 games for Manchester City since his arrival last June.
In the Premier League alone, the Norwegian powerhouse has notched 28 goals in 26 games — a hefty tally that has already eclipsed those mustered by each of the league’s previous five Golden Boot winners.
Haaland is firmly on course to equal or better the Premier League record for most goals scored in a single season. That record has stood for almost 30 years since Andy Cole (Newcastle United, 1993-94) and Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers, 1994-95) both scored 34 goals during successive 42-game campaigns.
However, while Haaland is leading the race for the European Golden Shoe as the top marksman across Europe’s elite divisions, the 22-year-old isn’t entirely out in front on his own when it comes to impressive goal-scoring endeavours this season.
His rate of 1.07 league goals per game this season is undeniably impressive, but it is not the 2022-23 campaign’s most prolific in either Europe’s top-flight leagues or English football.
So who is Erling Haaland being out-Haalanded by? Here we examine the league goal tallies and the goal-to-game rates of the sharpest strikers (with a minimum of 10 goals scored this season) to prove that the City star is only human.
Europe’s top divisions
Having scoured the goal scorers’ charts across every top-flight league in Europe, here are the top 10 strikers this season as ranked by their goals-per-game averages.
Haaland is firmly at the summit when it comes to his outright goal tally, but the Manchester City colossus is technically being outdone by a 33-year-old journeyman who previously mustered just 11 goals in 107 appearances in the Premier League earlier in his career.
Canada international David is joint-top of the Ligue 1 scoring chart this season. The 23-year-old is level-pegging with a certain PSG striker having played a handful more games.
Monaco are fourth in Ligue 1 and 12 points off the title pace, but in Ben Yedder they do at least have a striker who has proven pedigree when it comes to scoring goals in Ligue 1. The veteran forward needs just eight more goals this season to break into the top 20 all-time scorers in the division.
A three-time Premier League Golden Boot winner, Kane faced a brand new foe in the goal-scoring stakes this season and is trailing Haaland by a distance. The ever-reliable Spurs striker is ticking along nicely, but his Norwegian rival will take some toppling.
Mbappe still has some way to go if he wants to top his career-high Ligue 1 goal haul (33 goals in 29 games, 2018-19.) Regardless, the newly appointed France captain is in fine form and commands one of the best goal per game ratios of any striker in elite European league football this season..
Leading the rest of the pack by a 19-point margin, Napoli look odds-on to win their first Scudetto since 1989-90. Their commanding lead is largely the result of the flurry of goals scored by breakout star Osimhen, who is well clear of second-placed Lautaro Martinez (14 goals) in the race to be crowned Italy’s Capocannoniere this season.
5. Amahl Pellegrino, Bodo/Glimt (Eliteserien, Norway): 0.93, 25 in 27
In Haaland’s home country, Bodo/Glimt finished second in the 2022 Eliteserien table despite scoring at least 15 more goals than any other side in the Norwegian top flight, including eventual title winners Molde. The regular campaign came to a close in November but Pellegrino is still eligible for the 2022-23 European Golden Shoe.
4. Declan McManus, The New Saints (Cymru Premier, Wales): 0.95, 19 in 20
With McManus leading their line, The New Saints have a 17-point lead in the Welsh top flight and have scored 89 goals in total — that’s a full 43 goals more than Bala Town, the next highest-scoring team in the league with 46 goals.
3. Erling Haaland, Manchester City (Premier League, England): 1.07, 28 in 26
When it comes to the sheer number of top-flight goals scored, not a single soul in Europe can match Haaland’s exploits at the moment with the Man City forward having fired his way to the very top of the tree thanks to his happy knack of averaging more than a goal per game. On top of that, he has also scored 10 goals in just six Champions League appearances this term.
2. Rayan Philippe, Swift Hesperange (National Division, Luxembourg): 1.10, 21 in 19
Ostensibly a left winger by trade, Philippe has enjoyed a career-best season in front of goal with Hesperange having scored almost one third of his club’s 66 league goals as they sit top of the table.
Haaland may be the top goal scorer outright in Europe, but his strike rate pales in comparison to that of Ecuadorian veteran Valencia, who is leading the way by a fair margin when it comes to ruthless efficiency in the six-yard box. Fenerbahce are the Turkish Super Lig’s top scorers this season, and former West Ham man Valencia accounts for 40% of their 61 goals.
English league pyramid
The bad news just keeps on coming for Haaland; after the revelation that while he’s being outscored in Europe, he’s also not the most prolific striker in English football this season either.
With 28 goals in 26 games in the Premier League this campaign, Haaland can at least take solace in the fact that he’s comfortably outscoring the most prolific strikers among the 92 clubs across four divisions that make up the English Football League. Each of the three players here are the outright top goal scorers in their respective divisions, as well as having the best goal-per-game rate:
Championship: Chuba Akpom, Middlesbrough, 0.77 goals per game, 24 goals in 31 games
League One: Jonson Clarke Harris. Peterborough, 0.59, 22 in 37
League Two: Andy Cook. Bradford City, 0.59, 22 in 37
And if you care to venture a little further down the English football pyramid then there are several notable non-league hotshots who with impressive strike rates of their own.
Paul Mullin, Wrexham (National League): 0.81 goals per game, 31 goals in 38 games
The star of Wrexham’s Hollywood-backed resurgence under Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, Mullin is reportedly on the brink of an international call-up with Wales despite playing non-league football. The 28-year-old striker has scored 31 of the Red Dragons’ 97 league goals so far as they sit top of the fifth-tier National League by three points.
— Notts County FC (@Official_NCFC) February 3, 2023
Macaulay Langstaff, Notts County (National League): 0.97, 37 in 38
With Langstaff on fire, Notts County are already just three goals shy of a century this season as they attempt to leapfrog Wrexham at the top of the table and win promotion back to the Football League. What’s most impressive about his huge haul this season is that not a single one of his goals has been scored from the penalty spot.
Dominic Poleon, Ebbsfleet (National League South): 0.81 goals per game, 31 goals in 38 games
Just below the National League are the North and South divisions with Ebbsfleet leading the latter having been propelled to the upper echelons by the goals of their top marksman. Poleon has scored 31 goals, which is only one goal shy of the total of the division’s bottom side, Concord Rangers.
However, you have to descend all the way down to the ninth tier of English football to find the most prolific striker in the land — a lower-league stalwart whose name might be familiar to fans of a certain vintage…
Brett Pitman, AFC Portchester, (Wessex League Premier Division): 1.23 goals per game, 47 goals in 38 games
Here is all the goals from last night’s win over Hamble Club.
Two incredible strikes from Marley Ridge and two for Brett Pitman, taking him to 48 goals for the season. pic.twitter.com/urL5dvJBBp
— AFC Portchester (@AFCPortchester) March 8, 2023
Pitman, who had a respectable career at Championship and League One level at Bournemouth, Ipswich Town and Portsmouth, is now plying his trade at non-league AFC Portchester on the south coast. The 35-year-old forward has rolled back the years by scoring a truly extraordinary 47 goals in 38 league games so far this campaign (and 48 overall.)
Skippering the side and leading by example, Pitman is averaging 1.23 goals per game in league competition for Portchester and thus knocking Haaland’s numbers out of the park in the process.
There may be eight full tiers between the two of them in the English football pyramid, and a chasm in terms of the lucrative world of elite football and the semi-professional life of a regional non-league player, but as any striker worth their salt will tell you: a goal is a goal, and they all count.