Former Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski finished as Bundesliga top scorer for the past five seasons, averaging 32 goals per campaign in that time, but in Sadio Mane, Patrik Schick and Andre Silva, among others, there are plenty of players vying for his vacated crown in 2022/23.
bundesliga.com runs the rule over the leading contenders…
The Bayer Leverkusen forward ran Lewandowski closest last season, hitting 24 Bundesliga goals in just 27 appearances to the Bayern man’s 35 in 34. If he hadn’t missed out through a number of minor injuries over the course of the campaign, the 26-year-old could well have finished even closer to the Pole: Schick averaged a goal every 86 minutes – Lewandowski one every 84.
It came as no surprise them, that Leverkusen extended the Czech Republic forward’s contract through to 2027 in May. “Patrik had a fantastic season and has shown his world-class ability in his position,” said sporting director Simon Rolfes.
Watch: The best of Patrik Schick
“There are few centre-forwards of his calibre on the European stage. In addition to Patrik's exceptional sporting qualities as a complete striker, he also has the abilities of a leader to provide stability and guidance to the team on the pitch.”
That is not to say that he will be the only one. Nkunku also put pen to paper on fresh terms over the summer, tying him to Leipzig until 2026, after a spectacular campaign that culminated in the club’s DFB Cup triumph, as well as the France international being named as Bundesliga Player of the Season.
The 24-year-old finished as the fourth-highest scorer with 20 league goals, in addition to 13 assists, underlining his reputation as one of the most fearsome attackers in the game.
Watch: Discover why Nkunku was named as Player of the Season
"I'm pleased to continue wearing the RB Leipzig shirt,” Nkunku said after his new contract was announced. “After our great achievement in winning the DFB Cup, it was clear that my story here isn't over yet - we want more. Leipzig have made a name for themselves on the international stage in recent years and have shown time and again that we can compete for titles. We want to build on that going forward and go one step further."
With the 2022 World Cup approaching in November, Nkunku will be eyeing more of the same as he seeks to nail down his spot in France’s squad, having (inexplicably) only earned the first of six caps to date as recently as March this year.
Mane may need some time to settle into his new surroundings, but his goalscoring credentials are there for all to see. He finished as the Premier League's joint-top marksman in 2018/19 with 22, while the Senegalese star posted 120 goals in 269 outings for Liverpool overall.
Much may depend on how and where head coach Julian Nagelsmann decides to field his marquee summer signing: on the left wing, more centrally or as a false nine?
Watch: Sadio Mane - the Bundesliga's new superstar
Not that it matters to Mane himself. “I think I’m one of the lucky players who can play in three or four positions on the pitch,” the 30-year-old said. "I’m a player who is almost comfortable in all these positions. As long as the coach is happy to put me not in defence or as goalkeeper, I think I’ll be more than happy to play in any position for him and for the club as well.”
Quick, agile, full of tireless running and elusive movement, it's a safe bet to assume Mane will be among the goals this season.
Club: RB Leipzig
Silva scored 12 Bundesliga goals in his first season at Eintracht Frankfurt in 2019/20, before serving notice of his finishing ability with 28 the following campaign. The Portugal international credited his remarkable upswing to the fact that he had adapted to his new surrounding and teammates in the second year, making it easier for him to find the net.
All of which bodes well for Silva and Leipzig as the 26-year-old embarks on his second year at the Red Bull Arena, having notched 11 league goals last term. The team improved greatly once Domenico Tedesco took over in December 2021, averaging two points and 2.45 goals per game under the 36-year-old, so it appears everything is falling into place for another goal-packed season for Silva.
“Andre is an absolutely top-class striker with incredible finishing ability,” Tedesco said earlier this year. “But goals isn’t the only thing we judge our forwards by. For example, Andre is very good at linking the play and he can hold the ball up really well.”
Another season in tandem with Nkunku up front and we’ll soon need a nickname for what is sure to be a prolific strike pairing. Silvunku? Nkilva? Answers on the back of a postcard…
Kalajdzic only made 15 Bundesliga appearances in 2021/22, largely due to a long-term shoulder injury that forced him to miss almost all of the first half of the season. Still, he underscored his credentials as a bonafide top-level striker with six goals, never going more than three games without finding the net.
Having scored 16 times in 33 games in his maiden Bundesliga campaign in 2020/21, there are no doubts about his qualities – chief among them his aerial threat as he puts his towering 6’6” frame to good use in opposition penalty areas.
“On top of his qualities in the box you can see his ability when it comes to linking up, his intelligent movement and his leadership qualities,” purred Stuttgart head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo of his star man last term. “He opens his mouth and talks to his teammates, he’s always constructive and positive.”
A fully fit and firing Kalajdzic this time around should steer VfB well clear of relegation danger – and could propel their Austrian forward high up the scoring chart.
If height and headers are among the chief weapons in Kalajdzic’s arsenal, Adeyemi boasts a very different skillset. He’s quick – very quick.
“His pace and goal threat are impressive,” said Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl after the 20-year-old’s summer transfer from Red Bull Salzburg was announced.
There is plenty of end product to go with his ground speed though: Adeyemi posted 23 goals and nine assists in 44 outings for the Austrian champions last season. Hansi Flick was impressed enough to hand him a maiden senior cap for Germany, and the Munich native responded with a goal on his debut.
With the likes of Marco Reus, Gio Reyna, Julian Brandt and Donyell Malen in the supply chain, and new No.9 Sebastien Haller sidelined until further notice, Adeyemi will surely get plenty of chances to showcase his finishing ability this term.
Borre was Frankfurt's top scorer in all competitions last season, with eight Bundesliga goals and a further three in the UEFA Europa League.
Considering he was playing in Germany for the first time after an impressive spell in Argentina with River Plate, the Colombia striker's debut campaign can be considered a solid effort.
Watch: All of Rafael Borre's Bundesliga goals so far
Borre's second could be better still. Frankfurt have retained the services of Filip Kostic, whilst bringing in Mario Götze. There's also the potential for a little-and-large double act, following Lucas Alario's arrival from Leverkusen.
Double figures for top-flight goals for only the second time in Borre's career are a distinct possibility.
The same applies to Anthony Modeste, whose 20 Bundesliga goals from an xG rating of 16.79 helped Cologne finish seventh last season.
The 34-year-old rolled back the years, ending the campaign behind only Lewandowski, Schick and Haaland in the scoring charts.
Watch: All of Anthony Modeste's Bundesliga goals in 2021/22
Modeste did his best work in the air, with 10 of his goals landing in the back of the opposition net via his head. He also converted a couple of penalties.
Whether Cologne can mount another top-six push or not, Modeste will surely be good for plenty of goals.
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