Nicolas Jackson must aim to be an Erling Haaland if he can’t be a Kylian Mbappe

There’s a big debate about Chelsea striker Nicolas Jackson at the moment.

Over the course of a rocky season he showed both the tools to be a top class player, and some quite astonishingly amateurish finishing and decision making.

He is not a “natural finisher” and never will be. But is that essential? Let’s take a look at the top 5 European League on FBRef, at the players who have outperformed their xG by the largest number in terms of non penalty goals. Put simply, these are the ten players who scored the most goals compared to the places they were taking the shots from.

1. Alexander Sørloth • Villarreal +10.8
2. Phil Foden • Manchester City +8.7
3. Jude Bellingham • Real Madrid +7.8
4. Alexandre Lacazette • Lyon +7.2
5. Lautaro Martínez • Internazionale +6.7
6. Kylian Mbappé • Paris Saint-Germain +6.5
7. Serhou Guirassy • Stuttgart +6.4
8. Benjamin Šeško • RB Leipzig +6.3
9. Robin Hack • Mönchengladbach +6.1
10. Eren Dinkçi • Heidenheim +5.7

There are some very good players in there. But is it a countdown of the 10 most prolific goalscorers in the world? Absolutely not.


Another type of striker

Just getting onto this list isn’t vital in itself to be a top class forward. You’ll note that Alexandre Lacazette is 4th and Kylian Mbappe only 6th, and we know who we’d rather have. Overperforming your xG is one part of what makes a “good” striker. It’s not the only ingredient though. One of the interesting lessons that xG as a stat has taught us is that scoring prolifically is as much about getting into good positions as being able to finish well. Erling Haaland isn’t on this list, nor was he last year when he couldn’t stop scoring. His special ability is generating so much xG that he doesn’t have to overperform it.

Jackson isn’t a natural finisher, but with his amazing physical tools and his work rate, maybe he can be more of an Erling Haaland type anyway. It’s a big stretch to make given how prolific Haaland is, but it shows there’s more than one way to the top.

Tags Erling Haaland Nicolas Jackson
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