Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may be stealing the show in La Liga with their gluttony of goals already this season, but there is one striker lower down the league who is quietly turning heads after a bout of consistency.
Mallorca’s Tomer Hemed may not get many mentions in the weekend football betting previews in Spain, but after a discrete season at the Mediterranean club, he is finally scoring for fun, and Mallorca could capitalise from his increase in form this campaign.
Hemed is currently the fourth top scorer in Spain, behind the talents of the two La Liga greats, Messi and Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao. There is little chance he will one day emulate the superstar status of this trio but the 25-year-old nevertheless has more goals than Barcelona’s David Villa and Sevilla’s Álvaro Negredo.
With five goals to his name this season, Hemed has set the pace for the rest of Spain to follow and Mallorca are feeling the benefits.
Currently sixth in La Liga, Mallorca are level on points with Real Madrid and are close behind Betis and Malaga for UEFA Champions League places. Granted, the season is in its early stages but Hemed and his team have so far kept up with the breakaway pack.
So prolific has his start been – five goals in seven games – that Hemed was recently asked about his team’s chances of winning the title, which he dismissed, before being quizzed over his chances of finishing top scorer in La Liga.
“I’m not competing with Messi who is in a different league to me,” Hemed conceded to reporters. “Let’s be modest and not set unrealistic goals. I’d settle for second place at the end of the season.”
Indeed, second best would do very nicely for Mallorca if Hemed achieved this feat. Messi scored 50 goals last season while second-placed Ronaldo netted ‘just’ 46. If Hemed were reach second this year – scoring 48 goals for example – then Mallorca would rocket into title contention or at least secure a place in the Champions League.
Of course, he is very unlikely to score this much and Mallorca as a team netted just 42 times last season, but Hemed’s potential to find the goal makes him a valuable asset in this Mediterranean side.
Four of his goals have come in the second half of games and he has earned Mallorca five points already from lost causes; the Israeli international is quick, responsive to changes in play and can hit the target from anywhere in the penalty box.
Yet what is most evident is that Hemed has become confident leading the line for his team. He struggled to live up to expectations in his first season and netted just eight in 29 appearances – form that lost him a place in the Israel side. Now, however, his fire has been rekindled and if Hemed can maintain his performances this autumn then Mallorca have a genuine chance of qualifying for Europe come May.