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Messi, Ronaldo, and this season’s European Golden Shoe race … modified

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The last two winners of Europe’s Golden Shoe, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the only two realistic contenders for this year’s award. Each have scored 35 goals in league, and once UEFA applies their league strength adjustment, those totals will far out-distance the 31 goals Burak Yilmaz (Trabzonspor) has scored in Turkey.

UEFA’s adjustments are pretty straight forward, if a bit discouraging. For the leagues ranked sixth through 21st in the region, goal totals are multiplied by 1.5. Yilmaz’s 31 goals turn to 46.5. If you’re playing in the first through fifth-ranked leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy, and now, Portugal), your goal total is doubled. Messi and Ronaldo’s 35 goals turns to 70. Sorry, Burak.

Prior to 1996, there were no adjustments. In 1989-90 and 1990-91 (the last two years the award was officially given without adjustment), players from Yugoslavia and Bulgaria claimed it. During the “unofficial” years (1991-1996), players from Scotland, Wales, Armenia, and Georgia would have snagged it.

The adjustments are a step forward, if a bit crude. Drawing hard lines at five and 21 seems weird and arbitrary. Is the difference between Portugal and France, Croatia and Romania enough to justify those adjustments? Because as we see with Yilmaz, a .5 different on the multiplier makes a huge difference.

For some reason, I was thinking about all this this morning and asked (myself), “What would the Golden Shoe race look like if we eliminated these arbitrary lines – eliminated the arbitrary 2x, 1.5x modifiers – and based the adjustments on the coefficient itself?”

What does that mean? The “coefficient” is nothing but points accumulated over a five-season span, awarded when a team wins in Champions League or Europa. The logic? “Hey, your team got a result against a club from another league, and that hints at your league’s relative strength, so here – have some points. We’ll start adding these up.” When an English team gets a result in one of UEFA’s competitions, England gets points.

I didn’t say it was great logic, but hey, it’s something, and until something better comes along, it is (probably) better than nothing.

Over the last five years, England’s accumulated 83.16 points. That number means nothing, just know it’s the highest. Spain (79.329) and Germany (73.519) are next, followed by Italy (59.838) and Portugal (54.346).

All of which brings me back to this 2x versus 1.5x business. France, having just fallen to sixth, has a coefficient of 54.178. It’s practically equal to Portugal’s, yet goal scorers from the Primeira will get a 1.5x adjustment, Ligue 1’s won’t. Sorry, Olivier (Giroud, France’s leading goal scorer).

So here’s what I did: I took the top 15 leagues from Europe (15 because that’s the number of leagues that get more than the obligatory one entrant into Champions League), looked at their top goal scorers, and instead of applying the 2x and 1.5x, I applied a new ratio. That ratio: their league’s coefficient divided by the average coefficient of the top 15 leagues. The result is less clean, but it gets rid of that weird 5-6 threshold issue that’s been bothering me for the last few hours.

Smarter people have done smarter things with this, but I’m just trying to do one thing here: Get this annoying question out of my head. So, here’s your payoff. Please, don’t take it too seriously:

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Follow Live: Chelsea vs. Liverpool at the Rose Bowl

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Roberto Firmino of Liverpool is closed down by Nemanja Matic of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
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Premier League powers Chelsea and Liverpool tangle Wednesday in the Rose Bowl as both clubs prepare for their first full seasons under two coaches.

[ FOLLOW: Liverpool‘s Twitter | Chelsea ]

Sadio Mane, Loris Karius and Marko Grujic start for Liverpool, while Chelsea has a lot of familiar names in the fold for the International Champions Cup match.

Liverpool: Karius, Randall, Lovren, Klavan, Moreno, Stewart, Ejaria, Grujic, Mane, Coutinho, Firmino.

Chelsea: Begovic; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Aina; Fabregas, Matic; Willian, Traore, Loftus-Cheek, Moses. Subs:

Borja goal leads Atletico Nacional to Copa Libertadores title (video)

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Get into space and good things will happen.

That’s how Miguel Borja scored the goal that gave Atletico Nacional an edge that would stand up in the Copa Libertadores final on Wednesday in Medellin.

Borja’s goal gave Atletico Nacional a 1-0 win over Independiente del Valle in Wednesday’s second leg after a 1-1 first leg in Quito.

[ MORE: Wilshere likes Arsenal’s chances ]

Colombia’s Los Verdolagas hadn’t won a Copa Libertadores title since 1989, and the match was its first final since 1995. It was Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle’s first final.

Atletico Nacional’s Orlando Berrio traded goals with Independiente’s Arturo Mina in the first leg.

Two Newcastle players set for combined $60 million from Barca, Real Madrid?

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Newcastle player Jack Colback (r) celebrates his goal with Ayoze Perez (l) and Moussa Sissoko during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St James' Park on December 28, 2014 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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Newcastle United purchased Moussa Sissoko and Ayoze Perez from Toulose and Tenerife for combined fees of approximately $4 million.

They stand to make a whole lot more if Wednesday’s rumors are true.

Multiple reports say Real Madrid is set to bid $40 million to pry French international Sissoko from St. James Park, while Barcelona is ready to spend about $20 million to get Ayoze Perez as the fourth fiddle to its MSN attacking trio.

[ MORE: Wilshere likes Arsenal’s chances ]

Perez, 22, has scored 13 goals in two Premier League seasons with the Magpies after arriving from Segunda Division side Tenerfie in 2014, and was linked to Spurs amongst other locales.

But Barca has had trouble finding a player interested in being its fourth striker. Pedro left for Chelsea before last season, and players like Robin Van Persie and Luciano Vietto were tipped to join Barca earlier this summer.

Sissoko, meanwhile, was a feast or famine player at Newcastle this season but brought his A-game under the bright lights of EURO 2016 this summer. Real is reported to be giving up on Paul Pogba to focus on his French midfield mate.

As for Newcastle, Rafa Benitez probably planned on losing Sisssoko but Perez had worked well in preseason with new signing Dwight Gayle and was expected to be a factor this year. It could send Rafa back to the transfer mill, and he’d sure have some profit to spend.

PSG’s Meunier fires a laser versus Real Madrid in ICC match (video)

COLUMBUS, OH - JULY 27:  Thomas Meunier #12 of Paris Saint-Germain F.C is congratulated by Serge Aurier #19 of Paris Saint-Germain F.C after scoring a goal during the first half of the game against Real Madrid C.F. on July 27, 2016 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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Thomas Meunier is feeling it this summer.

The 6-foot-4 right back had a tremendous EURO for Belgium, and now is starting hot for Paris Saint-Germain after moving from Club Brugge.

[ MORE: Wilshere likes Arsenal’s chances ]

Facing Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup on Wednesday, Meunier scored a pair of first half goals including this absolute laser to beat Kiko Casilla.