Ranking Top 10 Contenders to Win Pichichi Trophy

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2014

Ranking Top 10 Contenders to Win Pichichi Trophy

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    Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

    The Pichichi trophy is awarded at the end of every season by Spanish newspaper Marca for the player with the highest amount of league goals.

    This award is a tribute to Athletic Bilbao striker Rafael Moreno Aranzadi, who tragically died at the age of 29.

    He was better known by his nickname, Pichichi, which means "little duck" in English.

    Last season's winner was Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, and it was the second time he has taken the individual honour.

    In seven out of the last nine seasons the highest scorer has resided at either Barcelona or Real Madrid, with Lionel Messi claiming the prize on three occasions.

    This illustrates the dominance of the pairing across the league, but Daniel Guiza did top the charts in 2008 while at Real Mallorca. Diego Forlan did the same a year later when playing for an Atletico Madrid side that finished fourth.

10. Kevin Gameiro

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    Kevin Gameiro almost came to La Liga a number of times when Valencia was keen on signing him while he was at PSG, according to RMC Sport, via Goal.com.

    He did eventually find himself in Spain last summer, and his goal-scoring prowess has continued.

    The striker only started 19 matches in the league but scored 13 goals in those appearances, as noted by WhoScored.com.

    He finished the campaign with 15 goals in the league and was Sevilla's top scorer, despite Colombian Carlos Bacca starting eight more times.

9. Antoine Griezmann

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Atletico Madrid's new winger was a regular scorer for his old side, Real Sociedad, and had a good World Cup with France.

    Antoine Griezmann netted 16 times in the league last season and only Ronaldo, Messi and Gareth Bale attempted more shots per game, per WhoScored.

    His pace is an obvious reason why he can capitalise on the counter-attack, but he scores a surprising amount of headers for a wide man.

    Around better players and in a tactical system that should see him shine, there's no reason why he can't better that tally this year.

8. Gareth Bale

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    Bale, last summer's big transfer, scored 15 goals in 24 starts, per WhoScored, despite spending the majority of the season battling to gain full fitness.

    When you also consider that the team wasn't set up to maximise his potential, it was a decent debut. He also had 12 assists.

    There's a lot more expected of the Welshman this time around, and unlike the majority of his competitors he didn't have to play a tournament in the previous two months.

    That means he should hit the ground running, and Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti will see Bale as instrumental in the opening weeks with other key players requiring patience due to their workload in Brazil.

7. Carlos Vela

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    The former Arsenal man has seen his importance to La Real rise with the sale of Griezmann to the champions.

    Although he has predominately found himself out on the wing in his time at the Anoeta, he has steadily improved his goal return year after year.

    He did get an opportunity as a central striker at times last term, and that's likely to continue, depending on the opposition.

    Carlos Vela finished off the season in fine form, grabbing four goals in the final five games.

6. Aritz Aduriz

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    Athletic Bilbao's Aritz Aduriz is another who scored 16 league goals, which was the highest total outside the top three clubs.

    His aerial ability is a constant menace for defenders, and his movement over a short distance is perfect for his fellow attackers.

    The former Valencia striker excelled when given the responsibility of the Basque club.

    His temperament occasionally lets him down, and he could miss a number of matches through suspension because of it.

5. Mario Mandzukic

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    Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

    Diego Costa's superb effort saw him accumulate 27 goals in the league last year, which was 35 percent of Atletico Madrid's total, according to WhoScored.

    His replacement is Croatian Mario Mandzukic, who can be just as prolific in and around the box.

    He finished with 18 strikes in the Bundesliga and was only toppled by Bayern Munich's new centre forward, Robert Lewandowski.

    Pep Guardiola's philosophy isn't exactly in line with Mandzukic's attributes, so expect him to thrive under Diego Simeone.

4. Karim Benzema

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    The Frenchman started the World Cup in brilliant fashion as he scored three goals in the first two matches.

    His contribution and performances dipped slightly in subsequent rounds as he failed to add to his tally.

    Real Madrid's sale of Gonzalo Higuain last August certainly assisted the striker at club level.

    Ancelotti's faith in Karim Benzema has been rewarded and is likely to be again with no further forwards arriving at the Bernabeu.

3. Luis Suarez

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    The former Liverpool talisman might be suspended for the opening months of the campaign due to a biting incident at the World Cup, but he's still a serious contender to top the list.

    He was in a very similar predicament last season and still went on to equal Ronaldo to jointly claim the European golden shoe.

    His problem this time is that his new Barcelona team are very much set up to make the most of a certain Argentinian.

    Luis Suarez is very adaptable, and he possesses the talent and the ego not to be overawed by the prospect of sacrificing part of his game.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Ronaldo, last year's winner, will of course be among the front-runners to reclaim his title.

    The Portuguese winger had a difficult time in Brazil as he struggled with injuries and those around him capitulated at vital moments.

    No one takes more shots than Ronaldo, so as long as he can keep his fitness issues at bay he should continue his incredible goal ratio at Los Blancos.

1. Lionel Messi

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    He may have taken home the World Cup Golden Ball for outstanding individual of the tournament, but for many, Messi underperformed.

    That's a little harsh given his actual contribution, and he was clearly fatigued as the competition progressed.

    The notion that he wasn't interested is completely ridiculous, and if Barca's best player can stay off the treatment table he will want to show the world that he's still the greatest.