Andrej Kramaric is not a name Premier League football fans would associate with Europe’s elite strikers — but that may be set to change.
The Croatian, 29, managed just two top-flight goals for Leicester during an ill-fated stay in England before a loan spell with Hoffenheim turned into a permanent switch.
Kramaric (pictured above) has set the scoring charts alight this season with six goals in just three Bundesliga appearances.
But can the former Foxes flop maintain his red-hot streak and see off Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland to finish the campaign as Germany’s top scorer?
Kramaric has consistently hit double figures in each of his full seasons with Hoffenheim since joining permanently in 2016.
His Bundesliga goal tally for Die Kraichgauer stands at 68 in 135 games, which is a remarkable record when factoring in that 28 of those appearances came from the bench.
Kramaric struggled with injuries last season but actually enjoyed his most efficient campaign.
The Croatian international’s knee and groin problems limited him to 19 league appearances yet his 12-goal haul equated to 0.76 goals per 90 minutes.
Hitting new heights in 2020-21
There is no doubt Kramaric’s four previous Bundesliga seasons have been a success.
But he has never truly competed to top the goalscoring charts thanks to the scintillating numbers posted by top scorers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lewandowski over that period.
Yet this season could be different. Very different indeed.
Kramaric hit the ground running with an opening day hat-trick against Cologne and he is outperforming his expected goals of 1.54 per 90 minutes.
Can Kramaric keep it going?
There is certainly evidence beyond his expected goals ratio to suggest that Kramaric’s recent form is anything but a fluke.
He is producing five shots per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga and is also highly ranked for shots on target at 2.67 per 90 minutes.
Will Hoffenheim keep performing?
The biggest issue for Kramaric is whether or not his team-mates can continue to provide him with the service he needs.
While Lewandowski and Haaland are surrounded by talented individuals at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively, Hoffenheim do not have the same quality at their disposal.
Sebastian Hoeness’ outfit are currently ninth in the Bundesliga with two wins and two losses from their opening four matches, but it is their expected goals stats that are particularly interesting.
Their two goals scored per 90 minutes is just below their expected goals of 2.15, offering hope they can continue scoring at the same rate for at least a little while longer.
It will be tough for Kramaric to finish top of the pile when he is up against Lewandowski, who netted 34 goals last term and has already found the back of the net seven times this season.
But that is not to suggest he cannot better his own personal best, with all the evidence pointing to another stellar season from one of Europe’s most underrated forwards.