During his time at Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo maintained a strike rate unmatched by any other player who competed between 2009 and 2018. The Portuguese was able, between 2010 and 2014, to keep more than seven shots per 90′ in three of those four seasons. Records that sound unattainable, even more so when we check that Lionel Messi’s maximum shots in a season was 5.23 shots (2016-17), Erling Haaland’s 4.49 (2023-24) and Kylian Mbappé’s (2019-20) 4.91 per 90 minutes. Overtaking Ronaldo seems impossible.
It’s early days but it’s very significant that, for more than five games, Victor Boniface is managing to reach a higher record tells us several things. The first is the improvement that comes from playing in a team with so many more chances and so much more attacking volume. Last season, the Nigerian was “only” able to average 2.87 shots per game for Union Saint-Gilloise, but Bayer Leverkusen decided to invest in his potential. And the answer is breaking records.
Victor Boniface is averaging 7.25 shots per game. Boniface’s verticality, frequency, and aggressiveness in his runs are accounting for a very high percentage of every Bayer Leverkusen attack. As if that weren’t enough, Boniface is not only the top striker in the big five leagues in four key metrics for the position, he’s also ranked third in dribbles per 90 minutes (3.3 dribbles). More than Haaland, Mbappé, Nunez, Kane or Thuram.
One of the keys to understanding a sudden change in performance is to look at collective contexts. A good way to find those keys is to go to the heat map to see if, even though they were strikers in both systems, Boniface was playing in different areas. And indeed he was. In Leverkusen all his movements are from inside and towards the box, with much less mobility and hardly any movement on the left flank.
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