Analysing Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s season statistically

I decided to look at the raw statistics for strikers in the Premier League and the La Liga, the two top leagues in the world.

First, let us take a look at the number of goals and the number of shots of all the strikers who have scored more than 10 in the league.

RankNameShots per GoalGoals per ShotTotal ShotsTotal Goals
1Alexandre Lacazette3.380.37121
3Edinson Cavani3.620.289426
4Harry Kane3.630.286919
5Andrea Belotti3.640.288022
6Romelu Lukaku3.820.266517
8Iago Aspas3.930.255514
9Timo Werner4.00.255213
10Marco Borriello4.080.244912
11Anthony Modeste4.130.246616
12Luis Suárez4.160.247919
13Bafétimbi Gomis4.310.236916
14Sadio Mané4.330.235212
15Diego Costa4.410.237517
16Jermain Defoe4.570.226414
17Gonzalo Higuaín4.580.228719
18Robert Lewandowski4.680.218919
19Dele Alli4.920.26413
20Lionel Messi5.00.211523
21Nikola Kalinic5.170.196212
22Mauro Icardi5.290.199017
23Alexis Sánchez5.350.199117
24Dries Mertens5.440.189818
25Antoine Griezmann5.50.186612
26Cristiano Ronaldo6.50.1511718
27Ciro Immobile6.50.1510416
28Sergio Agüero7.080.148512
29Edin Dzeko7.210.1413719
30Zlatan Ibrahimovic7.330.1411015

Zlatan is at the bottom of this list, at 7.33 shots per goal. With Zlatan’s style of play (he’s not Sanchez / Hazard), he creates very little of his own chances, this means the team needs to create over 7 chances for him to score 1 goal. In comparison to the top performers in this chart, I’d first declare that nearly all of these guys create more goals for themselves (look at Kane’s goal against Everton, half of Messi’s goals, and on, and on), but even with that, their teams only need to create half as many for their strikers to score than United do for Zlatan.

This, for me, is one of the key reasons why United’s home stats really aren’t that surprising. They are not firing on all cylinders anywhere, really, but when your main and central forward is wasting these many chances, unless you’re always going to keep a clean sheet , you have to create nearly 20 chances to score 2 goals and win a game.

RankNameShots per On Target ShotOn Target Shots per ShotTotal ShotsTotal On Target Shots
1Romelu Lukaku1.510.666543
2Nikola Kalinic1.550.656240
4Sadio Mané1.580.635233
5Harry Kane1.60.626943
6Alexandre Lacazette1.610.627144
7Dries Mertens1.610.629861
8Timo Werner1.630.625232
9Diego Costa1.630.617546
10Antoine Griezmann1.650.616640
11Iago Aspas1.670.65533
12Bafétimbi Gomis1.680.596941
13Marco Borriello1.690.594929
15Lionel Messi1.690.5911568
16Alexis Sánchez1.690.599154
17Ciro Immobile1.70.5910461
18Dele Alli1.730.586437
19Jermain Defoe1.730.586437
20Gonzalo Higuaín1.740.578750
21Sergio Agüero1.770.568548
22Edinson Cavani1.770.569453
23Andrea Belotti1.780.568045
24Zlatan Ibrahimovic1.860.5411059
25Luis Suárez1.880.537942
26Edin Dzeko1.960.5113770
27Robert Lewandowski2.020.498944
28Cristiano Ronaldo2.170.4611754
29Anthony Modeste2.20.456630
30Mauro Icardi2.730.379033


RankNameOn Target Shots per GoalGoals per On Target ShotTotal On Target ShotsTotal Goals
1Anthony Modeste1.880.533016
2Mauro Icardi1.940.523317
4Edinson Cavani2.040.495326
5Andrea Belotti2.050.494522
6Alexandre Lacazette2.10.484421
7Luis Suárez2.210.454219
8Harry Kane2.260.444319
9Robert Lewandowski2.320.434419
10Iago Aspas2.360.423314
11Marco Borriello2.420.412912
12Timo Werner2.460.413213
14Romelu Lukaku2.530.44317
15Bafétimbi Gomis2.560.394116
16Gonzalo Higuaín2.630.385019
17Jermain Defoe2.640.383714
18Diego Costa2.710.374617
19Sadio Mané2.750.363312
20Dele Alli2.850.353713
21Lionel Messi2.960.346823
22Cristiano Ronaldo3.00.335418
23Alexis Sánchez3.180.315417
24Antoine Griezmann3.330.34012
25Nikola Kalinic3.330.34012
26Dries Mertens3.390.36118
27Edin Dzeko3.680.277019
28Ciro Immobile3.810.266116
29Zlatan Ibrahimovic3.930.255915
30Sergio Agüero4.00.254812


These two next stats need to be taken as a pair, IMO, which is shown perfectly by Mauro Icardi. Mauro is the worst performer for the number of on target shots per shot, 2.73. Out of his 90 shots, only 33 have been on target. But, he’s doing so well because of the efficiency of those shots he scores a goal from every 1.94 shot on target Out of his 33 on target shots, he’s scored 17 goals.

This shows Zlatan up in quite a bad light yet again. He has a really bad conversion rate of 110 shots for 59 shots on target, but of those 59 shots on target, he’s scored only 15 goals, with Sergio Aguero being worse (surprisingly, or not, considering the season he’s having).

Is Zlatan doing fantastically well for a 35 year old? Absolutely, yes he is. Is he having a fantastic season by all accounts? Really and truly not. He absolutely is part of the problem United are having, and whether or not United have the replacement within their ranks or not (Martial / Rashford / … Rooney / Wilson / Burkart…), I’ve no idea, but if they go into next season with Zlatan as the main man in the front-line, they’ll probably have a similar wasteful season.

These days, strikers who boast a “one in two” ratio are hardly even spoken about. Players like Messi, Ronaldo and Suarez, the real elite forward players, have really pushed beyond that. United are the current moment are not in a position to sign any one of them, but they should go all out in the summer for a striker who is more efficient than Zlatan is at the moment.

RankNameShots per GoalGoals per ShotShots per On Target ShotOn Target Shots per ShotOn Target Shots per GoalGoals per On Target ShotTotal ShotsTotal On Target ShotsTotal Goals
1Alexandre Lacazette3.380.31.610.622.10.48714421
3Edinson Cavani3.620.281.770.562.040.49945326
4Harry Kane3.630.281.60.622.260.44694319
5Andrea Belotti3.640.281.780.562.050.49804522
6Romelu Lukaku3.820.261.510.662.530.4654317
8Iago Aspas3.930.251.670.62.360.42553314
9Timo Werner4.00.251.630.622.460.41523213
10Marco Borriello4.080.241.690.592.420.41492912
11Anthony Modeste4.
12Luis Suárez4.160.241.880.532.210.45794219
13Bafétimbi Gomis4.310.231.680.592.560.39694116
14Sadio Mané4.330.231.580.632.750.36523312
15Diego Costa4.410.231.630.612.710.37754617
16Jermain Defoe4.570.221.730.582.640.38643714
17Gonzalo Higuaín4.580.221.740.572.630.38875019
18Robert Lewandowski4.680.212.020.492.320.43894419
19Dele Alli4.920.21.730.582.850.35643713
20Lionel Messi5.00.21.690.592.960.341156823
21Nikola Kalinic5.170.191.550.653.330.3624012
22Mauro Icardi5.290.192.730.371.940.52903317
23Alexis Sánchez5.350.191.690.593.180.31915417
24Dries Mertens5.440.181.610.623.390.3986118
25Antoine Griezmann5.50.181.650.613.330.3664012
26Cristiano Ronaldo6.
27Ciro Immobile6.
28Sergio Agüero7.080.141.770.564.00.25854812
29Edin Dzeko7.210.141.960.513.680.271377019
30Zlatan Ibrahimovic7.330.141.860.543.930.251105915

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