Will anyone usurp Besart Berisha as the A-League’s top goal scorer?

Chris Matthews-Darby Roar Rookie

By , Chris Matthews-Darby is a Roar Rookie

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    Besart Berisha is the greatest goal scorer in the A-League era, maybe even Australian football. The first player in the A-League to score 100 goals, the only player to win multiple Golden Boots.

    Archie Thompson and Shane Smeltz have similar figures but spent almost twice as much time in the league as Berisha.

    But the purpose of this article is to calculate when or if someone will usurp Berisha as the A-League’s best goal scorer.

    Firstly, let’s look at the top ten goal scorers in A-League history:

    Besart Berisha 102
    Shane Smeltz 92
    Archie Thompson 90
    Alex Brosque 63
    Mark Bridge 58
    Jamie Maclaren 51
    Sergio van Dijk 50
    Bruce Djite 45
    Matt Simon 44
    Carlos Hernandez 43

    While he is yet to score so far this season, the Kosovo international remains ten goals ahead of the inactive, second-placed Smeltz.

    In fact, only three other players in the top ten are active. Matt Simon, who hasn’t scored in 33 matches, Mark Bridge, who hasn’t scored in 11 matches and just got back from a stint overseas, and Alex Brosque, who is still 39 goals behind.

    Brosque is coming off his best A-League goal-scoring season (11 in 2016-17), but he recently turned 34 and will have to score 20 goals in the next two seasons to reach 100. In the meantime, Berisha will still, presumably, be banging in the goals, increasing his tally.

    Jamie Maclaren looked to be on trajectory, scoring 51 goals in a little over three seasons. However, his move to the Bundesliga’s second division means he is still 51 goals behind Berisha and that margin will have increased if he returns to the A-League.

    Bruno Fornaroli could easily become the second player to score 100 goals in the A-League. He is just behind Carlos Hernandez with 42 goals, all of which he scored in two seasons.

    If he scores 20 goals in every season he plays then it won’t take long to reach 100, but he has a lot of ground to cover and won’t likely return from injury until December.

    At 30 years of age, he could still be around for a few years, but will that be enough to become the competition’s greatest goal scorer? Probably not.

    What about up-and-coming players?

    Adam Taggart is only 24 but already has 33 goals to his name. If he can return to the form that won him the Golden Boot in 2013-14, which eventually led to a move overseas and a spot at the World Cup (he scored 16 goals that season), he could potentially overtake Berisha.

    Other than Taggart and Fornaroli, no other player is scoring enough goals or will spend enough time in the A-League to overtake Berisha.

    Of course, they all still have to compete with the three-time championship winner.

    So let’s look into a dystopian future, where the FFA have expanded the league and – for the sake of argument – it’s the same 20-team format as the Premier League, where there are strikers scoring 20 to 25 goals a season.

    But by the time Berisha retires, he could have as many as 175 goals. Even with the example used, this would take approximately six seasons to match.

    Someday, someone will usurp Berisha as the highest goalscoring player in the A-League – as Sydney FC proved last season, records are made to be broken.

    But Besart Berisha will remain the greatest goal scorer in A-League history for decades to come.