Emiliano Sala: The Argentine outscoring Messi
When the season began, the last thing that Emiliano Sala would have been thinking of was comparisons with Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
Beyond being Argentine, footballers and forwards, there is little the pair appear to have in common. Whereas the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is known for his grace and technical ease, the 6 foot 2” Sala can look ungainly and was not even in the plans of previous boss Miguel Cardoso until he hit a golden seam of form.
It may not have been enough to save Cardoso from the sack barely two months after he took the job, but it has brought the 28-yearold firmly into the spotlight.
Eight goals in the league this season mean that only Paris SaintGermain’s Kylian Mbappe and Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek have netted more regularly than him in Europe’s biggest five divisions, while of players who have scored at least five goals, he trails only Mbappe, Luka Jovic and Paco Alcacer in terms of minutes played per goal. Even Messi has been left in his wake. “That’s good,” he told L’Equipe, laughing. “It’s true that it’s something special for me. But what interests me is being able to progress. “I had seen that Mbappe was scoring a goal every 55 minutes, but I hadn’t seen that I was in front of Messi. I’m going to have to really work now!” Even when the team was struggling under Cardoso, Sala was scoring when given the chance and now, the change of coach, with Vahid Halilhodzic taking over early in October, has seen him thrive. A hat-trick against Toulouse was the first of his professional career at the top level, while a goal against Amiens followed last weekend. And given just a few minutes at the end of Tuesday’s Coupe de la Ligue match against Montpellier, he netted again. Spread over all competitions, he has nine goals in 11 appearances, with one arriving, on average, every 75 minutes.