Which team has the best attacking trio in Europe?

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Last night saw Liverpool brush aside FC Porto in their Champions League Round of 16 fixture as they came away from Portugal with a 5-0 victory, their goals coming from a Sadio Mane hat-trick and one a piece from Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah.

The Liverpool front 3 has been in fine form this season, but how do they compare against other attacking trios across the continent? Let’s analyse the stats and see if we can come to a decision.

Liverpool – Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino & Mo Salah


We’ll start by looking at the aforementioned front 3 of Liverpool:

Player Cost (£million) Games Played Goals Assists
Sadio Mane 37 26 12 6
Roberto Firmino 37 35 20 9
Mo Salah 38 35 29 8
Total 112 96 61 23

Between the three of them they have amassed a combined 84 goals and assists from 96 games, averaging 0.64 goals and 0.24 assists per game, all at a reasonable £112 million price tag (reasonable by today’s standards at least).

Manchester City – Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne & Raheem Stirling


Keeping it in England let’s check the stats from the front 3 of the current league leaders:

Player Cost (£million) Games Played Goals Assists
Sergio Aguero 32 33 30 6
Kevin De Bruyne 68 38 11 18
Raheem Stirling 56 36 20 6
Total 156 107 61 30

The same amount of goals from 11 more games combined gives the City front three a goals per game average of 0.57 but the monster tally of assists from KDB boosts their assists per game to 0.28. The cost is quite a bit more than Liverpool’s, but we will come across teams with much higher figures than that.

Barcelona – Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez & Paulinho


If you’d have said back in 2015 that Paulinho would be included in an article about the top attacking trios in Europe I’d have told you where to get off. But with injuries ruling out Ousmane Dembele for most of the season so far and Phillipe Coutinho only arriving last month here he is! Let’s see how the current La Liga leaders are looking:

Player Cost (£million) Games Played Goals Assists
Lionel Messi 0 32 26 11
Luis Suarez 74 31 19 5
Paulinho 36 33 10 2
Total 110 96 55 18

It is hard to call them an attacking trio as Paulinho is not an attacker by trade and their numbers will certainly jump when either Coutinho or Dembele (or both) make their full impact on the team. But even so they put up a very comparable 0.57 goals per game ratio. Their assist ratio is only 0.19 but that’s not all that surprising given the amount of work Messi can do on his own.

Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale & Isco


This hasn’t been the greatest of seasons for Real Madrid, but they are still firing on all cylinders in the Champions League after an impressive 3-1 win over PSG last night. Here’s how their individual attacking stats look:

Player Cost (£million) Games Played Goals Assists
Cristiano Ronaldo 85 27 24 5
Gareth Bale 90 16 8 3
Isco 27 31 6 5
Total 202 74 38 13

Gareth Bale has missed a considerable amount of action this season which could be part of the reason for their poor form. It also doesn’t help that in this age of free flowing football where goals are needed from all over the pitch that they don’t have a real third attacking threat to make a trio. But when you have the Balon D’or winner on your side it certainly helps matters (even if it doesn’t help the bank balance). The best attacking trio they do have are averaging 0.51 goals and 0.18 assists per game.

Paris St Germain – Neymar  Jr, Edinson Cavani & Kylian Mbappe


While Ligue 1 is not considered to be one of the strongest leagues in terms of depth a statistical view of attacking trios without these three would be ridiculous. Let’s see how they stack up:

Player Cost (£million) Games Played Goals Assists
Neymar Jr 200 28 27 14
Edinson Cavani 58 34 28 5
Kylian Mbappe 0 30 15 11
Total 258 92 70 30

The numbers these three are putting up are astronomical, with a whopping 0.76 goals and 0.32 assists per game. But they already have the highest total cost for a trio without a fee for Mbappe who is on loan from Monaco this season – when his £165 million fee goes through in the summer they will be well over double their nearest challengers in the high spending stakes.

Juventus – Gonzalo Higuaín, Paulo Dybala & Miralem Pjanic


The final trio we will look at are from Italian giants Juventus, currently sitting second in Serie A behind Napoli.

Player Cost (£million) Games Played Goals Assists
Gonzalo Higuaín 81 34 20 3
Paulo Dybala 36 28 17 3
Miralem Pjanic 29 29 5 8
Total 146 91 42 14

The numbers from Turin are lower than the other teams we have looked at as they are only averaging 0.46 goals and a measly 0.15 assists per game. But when your defence has only conceded 15 goals in 24 league games you don’t have to worry about the attack so much.

Now we have our trios let’s compare their costs and their goals & assists per game averages:

cost graph

As we previously mentioned PSG have run away in the cost department, spending a huge £258 million on their triple threat. Barcelona are the lowest spenders but benefit hugely from the fact Messi came through their academy, meaning in terms of teams that paid fees for all 3 players Liverpool come in the lowest at £112 million.

GPG gragh

PSG are the clear leaders in goals per game average too, so maybe you do get what you pay for. But it is interesting to see Liverpool, with their low comparable cost, coming in second place with their 0.64 average. Juventus, while a big name on paper with some great attacking players, are some way behind their continental adversaries.

APG graph

When it comes to average assists per games again it is Les Parisiens coming out on top, further supporting their argument for high spending. Manchester City, aided by De Bruyne’s magic passing come in second and it is Juventus bringing up the rear once more.

So statistically speaking we can say that the trio of Neymar Jr, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe of Paris St Germain are the best attacking trio in Europe. You just need a considerable bank balance to be able to afford them.

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