Only Erling Haaland has more goals than Alexander Isak in the Premier League this season.
The Manchester City No.9 has eight goals this term but has failed to find the back of the net in his last two outings in the English top-flight. Isak has four in his last three appearances for the Magpies and his double against West Ham United took his haul for the campaign to six.
He’s been directly responsible for 30% of the goals scored by Eddie Howe’s team.
Isak also scored the winner against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup to knock Pep Guardiola’s side out of a competition they usually do so well in.
Across all competitions this season, the 24-year-old has seven goals in 719 minutes. And yet, outside of the North East, his exploits appear to be going somewhat under the radar. It was the same last season too.
A thigh issue limited his game time during his debut campaign in England and a lot of the focus was on Callum Wilson with the former Bournemouth forward scoring 18 times for the Toon Army as they claimed a Champions League place.
Isak hit double figures though, finishing with 10 goals and an assist in just 1,527 minutes. This was also a season in which he was used in multiple positions while still adapting to the rigours of the Premier League.
The focus was on other big-money summer signings across the league, such as Haaland and Darwin Nunez, and it allowed Isak, Newcastle’s record buy, to settle in without the scrutiny.
Howe said as much following the historic 4-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
The Newcastle manager singled out his No.14, saying: "In recent weeks, I’ve seen a real desire off the ball from Alex to press, to work, to set the standards, really, from the front in terms of how we play off the ball and I think he’s been terrific. It was not nice to see him cut and bandaged, I’d never say that, but it was nice to see a response to it. He responded and worked even harder, so full credit to him.
"It was a big change for him when he came to England because just the style of play and our style of play is different, so I think there was a period of adjustment for him. But I think probably what helped him, actually, was his early injury gave him a chance to sit back and watch the team and to understand the expectations and how we do things. Sometimes you can see that even clearer from watching."
🔥 No player has scored more clear-cut goalscoring opportunities than Alexander Isak (6) in the Premier League this season pic.twitter.com/F0mOcA7c3T— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 9, 2023
Isak was allowed to acclimatise without the pressure of having to perform in a way that few other record signings are. In a strange way, the injury was a blessing for him.
It was the perfect storm with Wilson ensuring the Magpies didn’t miss the £62m signing during his absence and this allowed Howe to ease the 6ft 4in centre-forward back in. And now Newcastle are reaping the rewards with the Sweden international showing exactly why he was one of the most sought-after forwards in world football prior to his move to St James’ Park.
His double against the Hammers at the London Stadium was his second of the season after he scored twice against Aston Villa during Newcastle’s opening-day win over Unai Emery’s side. Isak has scored in each of his last three Premier League appearances and he’ll look to extend this run of form after the international break. The Magpies welcome Crystal Palace to the North East. The one-time Real Sociedad forward is yet to score or win against the Eagles. He appeared in both matches against them last season, starting one and coming off the bench in the other. Both games finished 0-0.
After that, the Magpies host Borussia Dortmund, Isak’s former club, in the Champions League. It will no doubt be a game he wants to impress in after a disappointing stint with BVB. In the grand scheme of things, these games might not be huge but on a personal level for Isak, they kind of are.
Isak has been one of Newcastle’s best players this season and has a WhoScored rating of 7.19. For context, only Kieran Tripper and Anthony Gordon have a higher average. If he keeps on performing to this level, he’s going to be rivalling Haaland for the crown of best centre-forward in the Premier League. And the club record fee paid by Newcastle is going to look like a bargain.