Will Erling Haaland deny Robert Lewandowski a hat trick of European Golden Shoe awards?

Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski added yet another new trophy to his collection this week after picking up the European Golden Shoe for his peerless goal-scoring feats with Bayern Munich during the 2021-22 season.

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The 34-year-old has since moved to Camp Nou and was present to receive the award in person at Wednesday's presentation held, rather conveniently, in Barcelona.

After also picking up the accolade in 2020-21, Lewandowski has now claimed consecutive Golden Shoes after finishing as the leading goal scorer in any top division of a European league. However, rather than the outright number of goals scored, the Golden Shoe is actually decided using a points system that assigns difficulty multipliers based on the perceived competitiveness of the league in question.

Using UEFA's coefficients, the system sees the total goals scored by a player in one of Europe's top-five ranked leagues multiplied by a factor of two and converted into points. Goals scored in leagues further down the coefficient table (between No. 6-22) are multiplied by a factor of 1.5, whereas goals scored in leagues ranked 23 and below remain as they are.

Therefore, Lewandowski scored 35 league goals for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga during the 2021-22 campaign, seeing him top the Golden Shoe list with a winning points haul of 70. He also scored 41 goals in the Bundesliga the previous season, seeing him win his first award with 82 points to his credit.

Since the inception of the European Golden Shoe award in 1967-68, only 12 players have won it more than once with Lewandowski becoming the latest multiple winner along with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez, Thierry Henry, Ally McCoist, Mario Jardel, Fernando Gomes, Dudu Georgescu, Eusebio and Gerd Muller. Of that select group, only two players have ever won the Golden Shoe three times or more during their career, with Messi (six times) and Ronaldo (four) claiming it on 10 occasions between them in the last 16 seasons.

Ronaldo first won the award in 2007-08 while at Manchester United, then again with Real Madrid in 2010-11. After sharing the prize with Luis Suarez in 2013-14, he was again the sole claimant the following year with a haul of 48 goals.

Messi, meanwhile, won his first Golden Shoe in 2009-10, claimed back-to-back awards from 2011-2013 (including 50 goals in one season in 2011-12) before becoming the first player ever to win three in a row between 2016 and 2019.

Therefore, Lewandowski is on course to become just the second player in history to rack up a hat trick of consecutive Golden Shoe wins. However, the Barca hotshot will face stiff competition if he wishes to complete the three-peat, with Erling Haaland already leading the way by a fair margin this campaign.

The Manchester City forward has scored 18 goals in the Premier League in 2022-23, putting him top of the Golden Shoe chart with a points tally of 36, thus powering a full 10 points ahead of Lewandowski who has "only" scored 13 goals for Barca (26 points) as things stand.

However, Lewy will learn this week if he is to be handed an extended three-game ban for his reaction to being sent off in his side's comeback 2-1 win at Osasuna on Tuesday, which will not help his cause.

Paris Saint-Germain duo Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are also in the top 10, as is Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane, but none of them are the closest challenger to Haaland as things stand with one round of games to go before Europe's league break for the World Cup.

Indeed, it is Amahl Pellegrino of Norwegian club Bodo/Glimt who is level-pegging with Haaland on 36 points right now courtesy of his 24 goals in 26 league appearances this season. However, as the Eliteserien campaign began in April and concludes this weekend, it is likely that Pellegrino is merely acting as pacemaker to the chasing pack. The race between Haaland and Lewandowski is most definitely on!