When reviewing top goalscorers since the start of 2015, two names from Europe's top-five leagues stand above the rest.
The first is Lionel Messi.
FC Barcelona's diminutive, yet potent, Argentine forward has destroyed La Liga since 1 January—scoring 12 goals in nine games. Arguably the world's foremost footballer, Messi's demolition in Spain's top division comes as no real surprise.
Our second member, however, is a relative shock.
FC Bayern Munich have a virtual stronghold on Germany's footballing competitions and show no signs of slowing this year.
Much attention is justifiably focused on the Allianz Arena, but there are other clubs in the Bundesliga who are doing outstanding work—VfL Wolfsburg being chief among the rising challengers for German supremacy.
Every successful team needs a trusted goalscorer. Were one to look around the globe at top teams, they all possess one common characteristic: An attacking focal point. Barca have Messi, Real Madrid employ Cristiano Ronaldo, Chelsea have Diego Costa, Bayern use Arjen Robben—no matter where you search, there is an indelible link with victorious sides and firing, clinical frontmen.
Wolfsburg possess one such component at the moment—he goes by Bas Dost.
The Dutch striker has scored 13 goals in eight games since his club resumed play on 30 January (11 of those 13 coming in seven Bundesliga fixtures); considering he registered just one goal before the winter break, Dost's current form is almost spellbinding.
Rather than simply enjoying his blistering 2015 record, though, on the lips and in the minds of many one could find the question: Is Bas Dost this good?
In 2011/12, Dost was the Eredivisie's top goalscorer with 32 goals in 34 games—this prompted Wolfsburg to spend just over £6 million in the 2012 summer transfer window. There is precedence for the 25-year-old's current form—the Bundesliga, however, is a grade above the Eredivisie.
All-time greats like Messi and Ronaldo have periodic dips in form, so Dost cannot be expected to maintain his current altitude; the more poignant question is: Can Bas Dost be a key component for Wolfsburg's hopeful revolution?
In a word: Yes.
Standing 6'5" and possessing fantastic penalty-box awareness, Dost looks a similar player to Arsenal's Olivier Giroud or Manchester City's Edin Dzeko (who ironically played at the Volkswagen Arena from 2007-2011). These two attributes, height and 18-yard-box prowess, are perfect in the system Wolfsburg run—especially with their current attacking-midfield talent.
When looking at Dost's statistics, his suppliers must not be overlooked.
Kevin De Bruyne has blossomed into a top talent in Germany after frustrating times at Chelsea, his ability to feed strikers has been crucial in Dost's emergence. The 23-year-old Belgian midfielder has six assists since the Bundesliga's restart and leads the German top division with 15 assists on the season.
Dieter Hecking's side added another winger from Stamford Bridge this January transfer window; once £22-million-man Andre Schurrle acclimates himself with his new team-mates and relearns the Bundesliga, there seems little reason to think, from either central midfield or wide areas, Wolfsburg's frontmen will lack quality service or space to operate.
Provided his club continue to improve, Dost will as well.
Strikers are needed to do more than score: Hold-up play, set-piece duties and dictating alignments/responsibilities of opponents are crucial elements to a forward's game—Dost can bolster those areas by simply playing matches.
What may not translate into goals on a scoresheet could translate into points in the Bundesliga table.
There is no concrete answer to our title question, but Dost should be considered more "the real deal" based on his movement, body type and the quality of his creative team-mates.
Were (e.g.) De Bruyne to leave Wolfsburg, then one might be persuaded to call Dost an automatic "flash in the pan," but the Belgian pipeline creates goals, and some lucky soul must be charged with placing them through posts—Dost appears as capable as any in that regard.