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

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. Besart Berisha is the greatest goal scorer in the A-League era. Archie Thompson and Shane Smeltz have similar figures but spent almost double as much time in the league as Berisha has.

That’s not the argument. The purpose of this article is to attempt to calculate when or if someone will usurp Berisha as the A-League’s best goal scorer.

Firstly, let’s look at the top 10 goal scorers in the A-League at the time of writing:

A-League’s Top 10 Goal Scorers

  • 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 he remains 10 goals ahead of the inactive, second placed Shane Smeltz. In fact only three other players in the top 10 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 the closest active player but is still 39 goals behind the Kosovo-international.

Brosque is coming off his best goal scoring season in his A-League career (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 the 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 would have increased if or when 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 score 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 this year.

But at 30 years of age he could still be around for a few years in the A-League but will that be enough to become the A-League’s greatest goal scorer? Probably not.

What about up-and-coming players? Are there any young forwards who in the league currently?

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), then he could potentially overtake Berisha if another move overseas doesn’t happen.

Other than Taggart and Fornaroli there are no other player currently 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 the future. A dystopian future where the FFA have expanded the league and for the sake of argument it’s the same 20-team format like the Premier League.

This is still 15-20 years away where there are strikers scoring 20-25 goals a season. But by the time Berisha retires or leaves the A-League he could have anywhere between 150-175 goals. Back to the example used, this will take approximately six seasons to match.

Surely someday someone will usurp Berisha as the highest goalscoring player in the A-League, as Sydney FC have proved records are made to be broken.

But Besart Berisha is the greatest goal scorer in A-League history, and he will remain that for decades to come.

 

 

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