bundesliga

Timo Werner and Marcus Thuram: the biggest threats to Robert Lewandowski's goalscorer crown?

He may be way out in front in the Bundesliga Torjägerkanone - and indeed European Golden Shoe race - but in Timo Werner and Marcus Thuram, Robert Lewandowski has some genuine competition to be crowned top scorer…

The Torjägerkanone – the canon-shaped trophy awarded to the top-scorer in the Bundesliga each season – has had one name on it in four of the last six campaigns. But if league leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach and RB Leipzig - and their formidable forwards - are able to sustain their own title challenges, then Lewandowski and his record-breaking beginning to 2019/20 will be pushed all the way.

There is little to add to what we already know about Lewandowski. This season, the Pole has already taken his reputation to all-new levels by becoming the first player ever to score on each and every one of the first 11 games of the season. With 16 goals to his name already, the great Gerd Müller is already becoming nervous that his age-old single-season scoring record of 40, set in 1971/72 and considered unrepeatable, might soon be among Lewandowski's growing haul of individual records.

Now one of the most familiar sights in the Bundesliga: Robert Lewandowski celebrating another goal. - 2019 DFL

If Werner has anything to say, though, then Lewandowski cannot consider sitting back comfortably. The 23-year-old Germany international has 11 to his name through 11 games so far this season, including the first two jaw-dropping hat-tricks of his professional career coming in a 3-1 win at Borussia-Park on Matchday 3, and Matchday 10's 8-0 win over Mainz.

Last season the first 10 strikes of Werner's 16-goal season came as braces, as he scored twice on five separate occasions. Now the fruits of five months working under new Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann are clear for all to see, with Werner's hat-trick heroics helping him reach new levels as a true goalscorer.

Nagelsmann has been building his team around Werner's undeniable strengths: speed, dribbling and, of course, finishing. Leipzig's tactics therefore suit Werner's game down to a tee, and he is benefitting from being put into more goalscoring positions. In Yussuf Poulsen, Werner also has an ideal decoy, meaning opposition defences cannot afford to focus solely on eliminating the threat he provides.

Timo Werner indicates which position he intends to fill in the scoring charts come the end of the season. - ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

Werner will also be licking his lips looking at Leipzig's fixtures before the winter break: in Cologne, Paderborn, and Augsburg they will come up against three of the bottom four sides in the current Bundesliga table, potentially assisting Werner in narrowing the current five-goal gap between himself and Lewandowski, especially considering how he faired against the fourth team in the struggling group, Mainz.

That brings us to Thuram, who may only have scored five so far this season, but has netted all those goals since Matchday 5 – after an inevitable period of getting to grips with his new surroundings following a summer transfer from French Ligue 1 side Guingamp.

Indeed, a similar argument can be made for the Frenchman's credentials as was made with Werner, in that he too has needed time to get used to a new coach and a new way of playing, and that can be expanded to include learning a new language, new teammates and a new league. But it has not taken Thuram long at all to find his feet.

Marcus Thuram intends to pitch his flag at the summit of the Bundesliga scoring chart this season - imago images/Beautiful Sports

The 22-year-old son of World Cup winner Lilian Thuram is certainly learning the language of goalscoring very quickly, and all that comes with it. In addition to his five goals, Thuram has set up five goals and trails only Borussia Dortmund's Thorgan Hazard and Bayern's Thomas Müller in the assist ranking. Combining the two, Thuram has had a decisive role in ten of The Foals' 24 goals this season which see them atop the table, four points clear of Werner's Leipzig and Lewandowski's Bayern.

In comparison to the Frenchman, Werner (4) and Lewandowski (0) are less providers and more finishers and that's illustrated further when you look at the amount of shots on goal that the trio have taken. Thuram's 20 so far is almost half of the 39 Werner has had, and a fraction of the 52 Lewandowski has struck.

But if the galloping Foals can continue into their stride at the top of the table, his own goalscoring exploits can only be expected to grow, making him also a serious candidate for the Torjägerkanone.