The most open golden boot race in years: who will finish Hyundai A-League 2018/19 top scorer?

Are we set for the most competitive golden boot race in years this Hyundai A-League 2018/19 season?

With plenty of familiar faces from last campaign's top goalscorer list sticking around and a host of exciting newcomers entering the fold, it's sure to be an open field when the new season rolls around.

Here's the full rundown on all the contenders!

READ: Five Hyundai A-League playmakers prepared to set pulses racing

The usual suspects

Bruno Fornaroli

Could you ever bet against Melbourne City’s talismanic Uruguayan?

We’re still counting down until Hyundai A-League 2018/19 kick off but Bruno Fornaroli remains the prime contender to take out this season’s golden boot prize.

The 2015/16 golden boot winner was the quickest player in the competition’s history to reach 30 Hyundai A-League goals, while his strike rate of 46 goals in 61 league matches is only bettered by the likes of Bobo and Ross McCormack, who was incidentally Fornaroli's injury replacement last season.

After missing much of the 2017/18 campaign through injury, the City forward will be itching to make up for lost time. And with Fornaroli already grabbing two in the FFA Cup this season, he could be primed to scale new heights this year. 

Oriol Riera

Only the irrepressible form of ex-Sydney FC frontman Bobo prevented Oriol Riera from claiming the golden boot on his debut season in Australia.

But the Spaniard will be raring to go once more when he lines up in Red and Black for his second campaign with the Wanderers.

The 32-year-old thrived in what was arguably an underwhelming campaign for Western Sydney in 2017/18, yet still managed to seize 14 goals in 25 fixtures.

Should new manager Markus Babbel rewire the Wanderers' attacking system successfully, Riera could be in with a genuine shout to finish top of the pile this season.

Andy Keogh

There’s a vibrant new era feeling in the west on the cusp of the 2018/19 campaign, and Perth's Irish forward looms as a man who could benefit significantly from Tony Popovic's arrival.

Although the Glory captain has struggled with injury in pre-season, the departure of Adam Taggart means Keogh is undoubtedly the central figure for Popovic’s men.

The signing of Chris Ikonomidis and will only improve a Glory offensive crowned by the irrepressible Diego Castro, and a more efficient system could yield a season best return for Keogh, who has netted 39 times in 91 appearances in Australia’s top flight.

Adam Taggart

If he can stay fit, there’s every chance Adam Taggart returns among the leading golden boot contenders.

After moving to Brisbane from Perth, Taggart will likely survive competition from Henrique and Tobias Mikkelsen to lead the Roar offensive this campaign.

And with Roar’s chief playmaker Eric Bautheac showing a new lease of life in pre-season and Stefan Mauk coming into the fold as well, Taggart has a great chance to repeat his 2013/14 golden boot heroics.

Despite his struggle to reach the heights of that season with Newcastle Jets, the former Caltex Socceroo still boasts an impressive return of 39 goals in 90 Hyundai A-League matches.

The new boys

Adam Le Fondre

There's no doubt the English marksman has got big Brazilian shoes to fill this season.

But Sydney’s new striker has already been knocking in goals for fun in pre-season, and looks set to pick up exactly where record-breaking forward Bobo left off for the Sky Blues.

The diminutive number nine has  rifled in the goals across all four levels of English football – 175 goals in total, and it would take a brave man to bet against him wreaking havoc this season.

A true goal poacher, Le Fondre could have a field day in the harbour city if Steve Corica can maintain or improve Sydney’s ruthless efficiency in front of goal.

Adam Le Fondre by Sydney harbour

Ola Toivonen

How do you replace the goals of Besart Berisha?

It’s not an easy task, but if there’s anyone who could rise to this particular challenge it’s Swedish forward Ola Toivonen.

The experienced Swede is a commanding presence on the pitch and a true handful for any defence in the world as evidenced by his recent FIFA World Cup™ exploits.

But despite his battering ram physique, Toivonen is also an exceptional finisher and carries all the qualities of a traditional number nine, scoring 60 goals in 139 Eredivisie matches for PSV Eindhoven.

With Kevin Muscat amassing a load of firepower in the Victory ranks, his new commander from the front might just have what it takes to cement himself as new Hyundai A-League top dog in his maiden season.

Ken Ilso

Ilso has been scoring goals for fun in Singapore and Malaysia, but can he do the same for Adelaide United in the Hyundai A-League?

The Danish live-wire could be just the man to put his hand up and claim the role of central goal scorer for the Reds, a problem position in the City of Churches in recent years.

Ilso has been on fire during his recent tenure in Asia, but he’s also registered a steady flow of goals throughout his career – including in the top flight of Denmark and German second division.

Ken Ilso

Jair 

The absences of Roy O’Donovan and Joe Champness have left Newcastle Jets desperate for fire-power during pre-season.

Enter Jair.

The Brazilian striker arrives in the Hunter with big expectations, but he’s shown during his time in Korea that he can shoulder that responsibility.

The 30-year-old has scored 38 goals in 82 K-League matches and should thrive on the service of Dimitri Petratos and Ronald Vargas.

Jair

The bolters

Dimitri Petratos

Petratos registered his best goalscoring return, 10, to date with the Jets last season.

And with the Caltex Socceroos attacker coming on in leaps and bounds in 2017/18, there’s no reason why he can’t throw his name in among the contenders for the golden boot.

Ernie Merrick may require the 25-year-old to get closer to the action given the absences of Roy O’Donovan for the start of the season.

Petratos boasts a record of 30 goals in 145 matches, and his ever-improving shooting ability makes him a solid outside bet for the top gong.

Kosta Barbarouses

The Kiwi flyer often played second fiddle to Besart Berisha during his time in Melbourne.

But with the Hyundai A-League's greatest ever goalscorer now gone, could Barbarouses relish greater goal-scoring responsibility?

He’s not reached double figures throughout his time in Melbourne yet, but with Victory bringing in the big guns this season – including Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen – there’s every chance the 28-year-old can keep pace with the pack and produce his best season in front of goal to date.

Roy Krishna

You just can’t knock what Roy Krishna brings to Wellington Phoenix.

In 94 Hyundai A-League matches for the New Zealand club, Krishna has registered 32 goals and 21 assists – a remarkable record for the competition strugglers.

This season, there appears to be a new dawn in the New Zealand capital. Mark Rudan has looked to instil a new mentality at the Phoenix, and Krishna could thrive with a greater supporting cast around him.

If there’s anyone who will spearhead the Phoenix into finals contention this season, it’s their Fijian livewire.

Siem de Jong

The Dutchman might not be leading the line for the Sky Blues this season, but Siem de Jong could be right among the Hyundai A-League’s chief goalscorers.

Sydney have distributed the goals freely in their past two years of unrivalled dominance, and should the front-line click seamlessly into gear once more their new recruit is set to benefit.

A player with sensational shooting ability, don’t be surprised if de Jong keeps pace with teammate Adam Le Fondre in the scoring charts if he can stay fit for Steve Corica’s men.

Siem de Jong arrives in Sydney

A new arrival?

With a month of the off-season still remaining, Hyundai A-League clubs are still finalising their rosters and adding the final pieces to the puzzle. There's still a chance the man who finishes top goalscorer in the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 is yet to be revealed.

Keep watching this space over the next four weeks to see if there is a late contender thrown into the ring in the race for the golden boot.

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This article was originally published on the Hyundai A-League website.
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