Bas Dost: An unlikely contender

The Golden Shoe is a little like the Golden Cleric award, which, if you remember, is a tremendous honour although unfortunately there is no cash prize attached.

Bas Dost: An unlikely contender

On Saturday, Luis Suarez put himself back at the top of list for the trophy with a late equaliser for Barcelona against Real Betis.

Winner of the Golden Shoe last season, he’s one of the obvious favourites to retain it — although they hand out a new one each season.

This would be his third.

‘They’ are not Fifa nor Uefa in this case but a group of European publications known as European Sports Media.

Originally it was a French thing, awarded to the player who scored the most league goals in a season across Europe. That concept ran into trouble after a dispute with the Cypriot football association, which claimed one of their players had been deprived of his award despite scoring 40 goals.

When it was relaunched, 20 years ago, the format was changed.

The shoe (OK, it’s really a boot, but the French named it Soulier d’Or and soulier means shoe) is no longer automatically awarded to the man with most goals but to the one with most points.

Nowadays some goals count more than others: Two points in England, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal (the top five in the Uefa ranking) but only 1.5 points in countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands and France.

This has a quirky effect on the ranking, as both Edinson Cavani (PSG) and Andre Lacazette (Lyon) have scored more than Suarez and others but are marked down because they play in a supposedly ‘easier’ league.

Both Cavani and Lacazette scored on Sunday, and Cavani now has 21 this season but is still ranked behind Suarez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, each on 16.

Carry on down the list and eventually you’ll find players such as Rauno Sappinen (Flora Tallinn) and Sean Maguire of Cork City, but they have no chance of winning, despite closing in on 20 goals, because their stikes only count as one point. Fair or not, the current points system has tilted the balance significantly in favour of La Liga.

Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Suarez would of course be leading goalscorers in any league. But one of those three has had that shoe for the past seven seasons.

Suarez shared the award with Ronaldo when he was still at Liverpool, but it is still easier to score a lot of goals in Spain compared with England or Italy because Real Madrid and Barcelona are so dominant.

Individual awards are overrated anyway, but gold is devalued when both the ball and the shoe constantly go to Spain. It would be better if there was another award that still counted goals equally.

This year could be different though.

Messi (15 goals) and Ronaldo (13) have so far been less prolific than usual, and there are a couple of decent contenders in the Premier League — Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa — and also in Serie A with Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus) and Mauro Icardi (Inter).

All four currently are on 15 goals but if you’re looking for an outside bet there is a player in Portugal who might be worth a flutter.

Bas Dost is not a household name, and as you may have guessed he’s Dutch. With two at the weekend, he’s now scored 16 goals in 16 games in his debut season at Lisbon’s second club Sporting, and he enjoys one significant advantage: His height.

Fifteen years ago Sporting’s big Brazilian striker Mario Jardel broke scoring records and won that Golden Shoe with 42 goals in 30 games. He’d also won it two years earlier with Porto.

Big strikers enjoy a natural advantage in Portugal, and Bas Dost is 6ft5in. Lump on, you might say.

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