Ah yes, the dreaded November international break.
Just when the domestic season finally seems to get rolling, when the Champions League group stage passes the halfway point and when the October international break starts to fade into the rearview — BAM. They hit us with one more slate of fixtures that no one really seems to want.
So, let’s take a begrudging look at which attackers were flying highest before their national teams called up. Who has been the most dangerous player for these 10 countries? To qualify, he must have played at least 500 minutes in domestic and continental competitions.
France: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Karim Benzema, who hasn’t been called up for international duty since 2015, is first among his countrymen in goals and second in assists, but that’s only because Mbappe, who should start against Moldova on Thursday (LIVE on ESPN , 2:45 p.m.), has played fewer than half as many minutes.
Per TruMedia, Mbappe is first among his countrymen in goals, shots, expected goals and expected assists per 90 minutes. He’s the best French player in the world and might be the best player from any country whose last name doesn’t rhyme with a folkloric dinosaur-type creature that supposedly haunts the Scottish Highlands. Did we mention that he’s only 20?
England: Tammy Abraham, Chelsea
It would have been Raheem Sterling — aka The English Mbappe — given he leads in xG and xA, but he got suspended for Thursday’s Montenegro game (LIVE on ESPN , 2:45 p.m.) because he [checks notes] tried to fight Joe Gomez in a cafeteria. So, instead it’s Abraham, who is lighting up the Premier League in his first season as a fully featured starter. He’s leading all English players in shots per 90 minutes, and he’s tied with Sterling atop the xG charts.
Abraham’s shot map is a thing of beauty — green are goals and the bigger the circle, the better the chance. Want to score a lot of goals, kids? Then take a ton of shots, and keep ’em all inside the box.
Brazil: Roberto Firmino, Liverpool
While Gabriel Jesus has been the most productive Brazilian on a per-minute basis, most of his playing time has come off the bench and substitutes typically perform more efficiently than guys who start. So we’ll go with Firmino, an ever-present jack-of-all-trades for the team sporting an eight-point lead atop the Premier League.
Firmino leads all Brazilians in touches in the opposition box and expected assists. He’s the only Liverpool player with more than three xG and xA in domestic play. Also, and this should count for something: he has perfect teeth.
Argentina, Non-Messi Division: Sergio Aguero, Man City
The GOAT remains the GOAT, so he is excluded from the conversation. Mauro Icardi is second among Argentina players in both xG per 90 minutes and actual G per 90 minutes, except he’s not on the roster possibly because he and the main man aren’t best buds. (The games might not be as fun, but international soccer certainly doesn’t lack drama!)
Angel Di Maria and Joaquin Correa are having special club seasons, but have also been overlooked by Lionel Scaloni. Lautaro Martinez and Paulo Dybala (and Correa and Alejandro Gomez and Gonzalo Higuain) are among the top 10 in Serie A for non-penalty xG xA per 90 minutes.
Despite all that, Aguero, second among Argentines in goals, xG, and shots per 90, and fifth in xA per 90, gets the nod. And despite all that, Argentina still hasn’t won a senior-level trophy in the Messi Era.
Germany: Timo Werner, RB Leipzig
Looks like someone decided it was time to become a superstar. Werner is leading the Bundesliga in expected assists and is second only to Bayern’s all-conquering Robert Lewandowski in expected goals. The 23-year-old is first in non-penalty xG xA per 90 minutes and has the top-line performance to go along with it; he also leads the league in non-penalty goals assists per 90 minutes.
To put it all into context: Werner’s production rate (1.40 non-penalty goals assists) is better than all but one of Cristiano Ronaldo‘s full seasons. He’ll probably drop off a bit at some point but he’s got a long way to go to fall out of the elite. Only two players — Messi and Mbappe — were even north of 1.00 last season. Werner and Germany face Belarus on Saturday (LIVE on ESPN , 2:45 p.m.).
Spain: Alvaro Morata, Atletico Madrid
Were it a choice among all Spanish players, the spot would go to Lazio’s Luis Alberto. Per Stats Perform data, only two players have averaged at least two shots, two chances created, one dribble, five final-third entries and four penalty-area entries per 90 minutes: Luis Alberto and Messi. However, the 28-year-old Spaniard didn’t make the latest squad, so it’s a choice between a number of frankly uninspiring options.
Gerard Moreno and Morata are the only players on the roster, which hosts Malta on Friday (LIVE on ESPN , 2:45 p.m.), with more than five goals so far this season — eight and seven respectively — but Morata leads the way in xG and he’s done it in 200 fewer minutes, so he gets this totally-made-up designation.
Italy: Ciro Immobile, Lazio
The 29-year-old striker has 14 goals; no other Italian has more than seven. He has nine non-penalty goals; no other Italian has more than seven. He has five assists; no other Italian has more, and only Lorenzo Insigne has as many. No fancy numbers needed for this one! Italy visit Bosnia-Herzegovina on Friday (LIVE on ESPN , 2:45 p.m. ET).
Netherlands: Memphis Depay, Lyon
If there’s a Russell Westbrook of the soccer world, it’s the guy who used to be engaged to Steve Harvey’s daughter. Among players with at least 30 chances created, only Di Maria has taken more shots. And among all the players with at least 50 shots, only Federico Chiesa has generated fewer expected goals. Lots of passing and lots of bad shots, sure, but it’s not like you can just decide to create that many chances and take that many shots.
It requires a special blend of skill and athleticism to fill up a stat sheet like that, so within Depay’s well-known inefficiencies lies a pretty good player: Among guys who have played at least half of the available minutes in Ligue 1 this season, the 25-year-old, who should start for his country at Northern Ireland on Saturday (LIVE on ESPN3, 2:45 p.m. ET), is tied for second in non-penalty goals assists per 90 minutes.
USA: Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
The U.S. national team might not be able to beat Canada, though they get another chance this Friday (LIVE on ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET), but it looks like they’ve got another potential young star who is starting to find his feet in the Bundesliga: Among players aged 20 and under with at least 500 minutes played in Europe’s top five leagues, Sargent is third in goals per 90 behind Mbappe and Lille’s Victor Omishen. The 19-year-old is also fifth in assists per 90.
Before you start booking future flights to Paris to attend the 2026 Ballon d’Or ceremony, remember: Sargent has only played 539 minutes this season and he’s only scored two goals and added two assists. On top of that, the pair of helpers came on a collection of passes worth just 0.2 expected assists; credit to his teammates for those, not necessarily to him. However, among this age cohort, he’s eighth in shots per 90 and fifth in xG.
Mexico: Raul Jimenez, Wolves
Jimenez finished ninth in the Premier League last season in non-penalty expected goals as promoted Wolves finished seventh. This year, he’s down in 33rd. Perhaps not coincidentally, his team has only won three Premier League games though after a slow start, they are back up to eighth in the table. Jimenez might also be starting to heat up, as he’s scored three goals in his last three matches, averaging 6.7 shots per game over that stretch.
Want a stat that sums up the divergent directions CONCACAF’s regional superpowers appear to be headed? In a single game against Arsenal two weeks ago, Jimenez took half as many shots as Sargent has attempted since the season began.