Emil­iano Sala: The Ar­gen­tine outscor­ing Messi

Weekly Trust - - Trust Sports -

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.

Emil­iano Sala

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