Updated: Jul 28
The Greek striker has been nothing short of spectacular since signing for Atlanta from Celtic. Since his signing, Giakoumakis has scored 10 goals in only 9 starts for Atlanta United. This puts him second in the golden boot race and the player with the highest goals per 90 to have scored more than 5 goals this season. This makes him Atlanta's fastest-ever player to reach 10 goals, beating legendary striker Josef Martinez by 55 minutes. But what makes him so successful when so many other attackers this season as well as last year have not been able to produce?
Efficiency in Front of Goal
The easiest thing to see when looking at Giakoumakis's stats is that he is super efficient. His scouting report for shooting is ridiculous. Giakoumakis scores every 3 shots on average. That is in the 99th percentile of MLS players and almost double Mbappe's goals per shot. In addition, he also on average overshoots his xG by a fair bit each game. This, clearly, shows a lot of skill in front of goal and just how clinical he is. He rarely skies chances or misses anything he should score and, I at least, am always confident when he gets on the ball in attacking positions. But his finishing ability isn't the only thing that makes him successful, he is also a very smart player.
Getting into Position
Giakoumakis reading the play and being in position is potentially even more important than being a good finisher. A striker that knows where to be on the field is a striker that can score. While this shotmap is from the Scottish league, it still reflects his play style, and it is clear to see that he is good at finding the ball in and around the six-yard box where he can force in ugly goals. As a poacher his job isn't to score beautiful golazzos, he has to be the finisher who will put the ball into the back of the net whatever way possible. Forcing the ball into the back of the net, though, isn't possible if you aren't getting on to the end of passes. This is clear with Miguel Berry. Berry keeps over-running the ball and that is why he isn't getting the dangerous chances to finish. He has only has four shots this season, and one on target. Despite being a massive 6 foot 3 striker the Spaniard hasn't gotten a shot on target from inside the box all season.
Images from sofascore.com
The left image is Gigi's heat map and the left is his shot map (both from Atlanta's 3-3 draw with Chicago Fire). What should be taken away from these is the overlap between his shotmap and heatmap in that dangerous area right on the edge of the 6-yard box. In this game, he comes off the bench in the 46th minute and scores twice after Miguel Berry failed to do anything of note, and both goals came from good positioning. The first goal was a headed pass back from the left side of the goal line into Giakoumakis which he converts because of good positioning in between the center backs. In the second goal, he finds space in between the center back and right back to run in behind and round the keeper before finishing confidently.
Images from ATLUTD.com
This shows the importance of positioning to his game as well as the benefits of being able to dribble with the ball at his feet. While he is not a playmaker or creative outlet, he is very much a skillful player and it is his ability on the ball that has let him score his second goal against Chicago and his goal against DC when Tyler Miller was way off his line.
The World's Best Goal Scorer January 2021
This positional awareness coupled with a devastating eye for goal is what makes Giakoumakis so effective. The Greek not only can finish but gets himself into positions where he can finish (and that is the important part). This tenacity is what earned him the title of The World's Best Goal Scorer in January 2021 which is given out by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics to the player who scores the most goals in the month. The Greek won with 11 goals that month, enough to beat players like Lionel Messi (6) and Robert Lewandowski (7).