The stellar careers of top players in the European leagues took a hit this season. Despite winning fans around the globe with their past performances, prominent forwards failed to meet or exceed expectations this season, let alone help their teams to victory.
Mario Balotelli, Radamel Falcao, Romelu Lukaku, Roberto Firmino and Gonzalo Higuain went through a season they likely want to forget in their bright record of effortless scoring in past seasons.
Italian forward Balotelli donned the jersey for European greats Inter, Manchester City, Milan and Liverpool for years, but he fell out of grace after he carved out a bad boy image for himself while in the Premier League with antics on and off the pitch. He found his comeback with French outfit Nice, which he joined in 2016, with 17 goals in his first season with the Ligue 1 side. It was followed with another stellar season where he scored 26 goals. Yet, this season proved problematic for Balotelli who could not find an opportunity to score in all 10 matches when he was in the starting eleven.
Colombian striker Radamel Falcao also enjoyed a comeback with another Ligue 1 outfit, Monaco. The former forward for Porto and Atletico Madrid, was off to a great start in Monaco with 30 goals in the 2016-2017 season and another 24 last season. Nevertheless, as if in line with Monaco's downfall this season that brought the former European heavyweight to the danger zone in the league, Falcao upset the fans with only seven goals in 20 matches he was on the pitch. Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku, another star of yesteryear, is far from his old form. The 25-year-old Manchester United player scored only six goals in 16 matches in the Premier League this season, while he failed to impress in five UEFA Champions League games with no goals at all.
Premier League leader Liverpool also suffers from a failing forward in the form of Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian forward is among the underperforming players this season, despite contributing to Liverpool's rise to the finals in last season's Champions League and ending the Premier League in fourth spot, with his 27 goals and 17 assists. This season, he scored only 6 in 24 matches. He was also less than stellar with Brazil's national team, with only 8 goals in 28 matches. In the Turkish Super League, Slimani is criticized for his less-than-stellar gameplay. Algerian forward who shone with 31 goals in 46 games in Sporting Lisbon in the 2015-16 season, joined Turkish outfit Fenerbahçe from Leicester City in August as the team sought a comeback under new management. Yet, he disappointed fans of the Yellow Canaries and scored only one goal in 13 Super League games.