By Ben McAleer, WhoScored.com
Last Updated: 29/06/17 6:34am
With the transfer window in full swing, WhoScored.com analyse the top targets for teams across the continent.
Following on from our look at the most in-demand ‘keepers and defenders and midfielders on the continent, WhoScored.com run the numbers on the 10 strikers commanding the most interest this summer.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Borussia Dortmund
After pulling out of the deal to sign Anthony Modeste, Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian have supposedly switched targets to fellow Bundesliga forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with a £71m offer on the table.
PSG, Liverpool and Real Madrid have all been linked with Aubameyang, who scored more goals (31) than any other player in the Bundesliga last season, and he is widely expected to leave the club this summer.
Of those 31 goals, 25 were deemed ‘clear-cut’, with the 28-year-old more than capable of moving into excellent goalscoring positions and subsequently finishing these chances.
Should a European giant convince Aubameyang to turn down the chance to earn £26m-a-year in China, then they will land a striker coming into his prime and capable of putting opposition defences to the sword with his searing pace.
Andrea Belotti – Torino
After his first real prolific domestic campaign, a number of teams across Europe are casting watchful glances towards Turin.
Andrea Belotti may have missed out on the Capocannoniere by a mere three goals – free-scoring Edin Dzeko landed that individual gong – but the Italian forward began to show why he is so highly thought of in his homeland. 26 goals was a notable return for a striker whose side finished ninth in Serie A last season
Belotti netted more headed goals (10) than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues, with the young forward maximising his incredible leap and power in the air to thunder in the goals.
Manchester United, PSG and AC Milan have all been credited with an interest in the young Italy forward, though Torino would prefer to sell abroad as he has a £87.9m release clause in his contract that only applies to teams outside of Italy.
He may be a star in the making, but having netted just 12 league goals the previous season, there is a concern at this point in his career that he isn’t a gamble worth taking at that price.
Kylian Mbappe – Monaco
Monaco have an abundance of sellable talent on the books. Bernardo Silva has already left for Manchester City, while Tiemoue Bakayoko is set to follow him to England with Chelsea calling.
Thomas Lemar, Benjamin Mendy, Fabinho and Kylian Mbappe are also among those who may follow Silva out of the Stade Louis II exit this summer, with the latter tipped to become the first £100m player.
Arsenal and Real Madrid have both shown serious interest in the teenage sensation, who enjoyed a hugely impressive breakthrough year on the French Riviera.
Mbappe was directly involved in more goals (23 – 15 goals, eight assists) than any other teenager in Europe’s top five leagues last season, with his attacking input helping Monaco to their first Ligue 1 title since 2000.
Comparisons with Thierry Henry are understandable considering the 18-year-old’s willingness to pull to the left before cutting onto his right, an eerily similar approach to his compatriot. There’s no denying that Mbappe is a star in the making and it won’t be long before he is the most expensive footballer in history.
Alexandre Lacazette – Lyon
Sticking with Ligue 1 and this time Lyon and their prized asset Alexandre Lacazette. The France international gained a better WhoScored.com rating (7.57) than any other player in France’s top tier last term, with 28 goals and three assists contributing to that return. Arsenal are believed to have had a bid for the striker turned down, according to Sky sources.
Only Max Kruse (36.6 per cent) had a better conversion rate than Lacazette (33.3 per cent) of players to score 15 or more goals in Europe’s top five leagues last season, with his ruthlessness in front of goal a key asset.
Lacazette’s ability to create for others is an added bonus, with 51 key passes from open play the fourth best return in Ligue 1 last season.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid
The relationship between Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid is frosty to say the least. While Florentino Perez insists the 32-year-old won’t leave the club this summer, Ronaldo’s future remains up in the air.
A sensational return to Manchester United has been mooted, while PSG would certainly go all guns blazing to land the Portugal international. This past season was Ronaldo’s least prolific in Spain with the Real Madrid star netting *only* 25 times in La Liga, but a change in role would be appealing to any suitor.
At his age, Ronaldo is approaching the autumn years of his career, but that did not stop him from scoring more goals (12) than any other player in the Champions League last season. Rather than shift him out wide, Ronaldo is now a stronger forward in a central position, where there is less onus on speed and more of a chance to utilise his goalscoring ability. If Real Madrid do sell, any side that can afford him will be picking up a frontman who can prolong his career in a similar fashion to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal
Arsenal are desperate to tie Alexis Sanchez down to a new contract and can you really blame them? The Chile international was the only player to register double figures for both goals (24) and assists (10) in the Premier League last season, while only Eden Hazard (7.81) gained a better WhoScored.com rating than Alexis (7.76) in England’s top tier.
The 28-year-old has only one year left to run on his current deal at the Emirates and with the striker reluctant to extend his stay in north London, either Arsenal sell this year or they lose him on a free next summer.
Manchester City are believed to be leading the race to sign the Chilean forward, with the chance to link up with Pep Guardiola again a key reason why Alexis supposedly favours a move to the Etihad Stadium.
Only Eden Hazard (84) made more key passes from open play than Alexis (77) in the Premier League last season, with the former Barcelona star key in both scoring and creating for others.
Indeed, if City manage to succeed in luring Alexis away from Arsenal, they’ll have themselves one of the finest frontlines in England and perhaps Europe.
Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich
There were rumours last week that Robert Lewandowski wanted to leave Bayern Munich after failing to land Kicker Torjägerkanone. Nevertheless, 30 goals was a thoroughly notable achievement for the Poland international, yet while the Bundesliga champions were quick to deny rumours of Lewandowski’s discontent in Munich, teams may chance their luck at signing the goalscoring Pole this summer.
Manchester United and Chelsea could certainly utilise a striker of his calibre, with both teams in the market for a new striker, while Real Madrid and long-term admirers of the 28-year-old.
Lewandowski had more shots (143) than any other player in the Bundesliga last season, with his confidence in his ability to hit the back of the net clear for all to see. It would take a monster offer to convince Bayern into selling their prized asset, but Lewandowski is a master of all trades striker who would greatly improve any team in Europe.
Romelu Lukaku – Everton
When Chelsea sold Romelu Lukaku to Everton in 2014, the Blues never imagined they would need to spend big to re-secure his services.
Three years later and that’s the position they find themselves in, with it rumoured Chelsea need to spend upwards of £80m to re-sign the powerful Belgian. They’ll live to regret not inserting a buy-back clause into the deal that saw him move to Goodison Park.
Only Harry Kane (29) scored more goals than Lukaku (25) in the Premier League last season, with Antonio Conte keen on bringing the Belgium international back to Stamford Bridge to replace Diego Costa.
No player scored more clear-cut goalscoring chances than the 24-year-old forward (18) in England’s top tier last term, as he managed to tuck away the easy opportunities to drive that goal tally higher.
Many may consider Lukaku a flat track bully, but you can only score against what is put in front of you. Playing for a team of Chelsea’s calibre will only see him improve as a striker, while Champions League exposure would raise his stock higher.
Keita Balde – Lazio
Twenty-two-year-old Senegal international Keita Balde is widely considered one of the hottest attacking prospects in Italy and for good reason following an impressive season for Lazio.
The youngster netted 16 times for Simone Inzaghi’s side as they mustered a fifth placed finish. Their squad threatens to lose its core in Stefan de Vrij, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Lucas Biglia and Keita this summer, with the latter attracting interest from Juventus and AC Milan.
His speed in possession saw him average 2.5 successful dribbles per 90 in Italy’s top tier last term, while two key passes per 90 highlights his selflessness in the final third.
Keita showed his best form when played centrally, but proved his worth when deployed out wide, with his versatility in attack a crucial asset for the youngster. With 12 months remaining on his existing contract and no new deal forthcoming, Lazio will need to resolve his future as quickly as possible as it seems almost certain they will lose their star forward this summer.
Alvaro Morata – Real Madrid
Despite playing second fiddle for much of the season, Alvaro Morata still performed admirably when required, firing in 15 league goals for La Liga champions Real Madrid.
Indeed, only Lionel Messi (every 76.5 minutes) scored more frequently than Morata (every 88.7 minutes) in Spain’s top tier last term as he maximised every possible opportunity to increase that goal return. Los Blancos are expected to cash in on the Spain international this summer, with Premier League side Manchester United leading the race to land the striker.
What’s more is that of those to score more than five La Liga goals last season, only teammate Isco (31.3 per cent) had a better conversion rate than Morata (27.3 per cent), with the latter boasting the requisite killer touch to really hurt opponents.
His big game experience is also a crucial factor in United’s pursuit of the 24-year-old ahead of their return to the Champions League. Morata’s work rate and need to pull wide means he is the ideal lone striker in a system Jose Mourinho favours, thus explaining United’s need to land the forward.