The 36-year-old with more goals than Haaland and Mbappé this year

With 17 goals in the first eight matches of the year for Sporting Cristal of Peru, Martin Cauteruccio is one of the most in-form strikers in the world. And, incredibly, he is set to turn 37 years old next month.

While Darwin Núñez’s exploits for Liverpool, Luis Suárez‘s form at Inter Miami and Edinson Cavani‘s goals for Boca Juniors are among the Uruguayan strikers hitting the headlines around the world, it’s a man who has never won a cap for his country who is outmatching them all in 2024, as well as the likes of Manchester City’s Erling Haaland (nine goals from eight games, amid time out with injury) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé (11 from 11.)

Since the Peruvian league season began on Jan. 27, Cauteruccio has struck three hat tricks and two braces to help his side to the top of Liga Apertura with five wins and one draw from six games. This weekend’s 1-0 victory over Atlético Grau was the first time he has failed to hit the back of the net at least twice in a game this season.

And his goal-scoring prowess continued in the Copa Libertadores. Not since 2013 has a club from Peru managed to make it out of the group stage and Sporting Cristal are not going to change that this season as they fell to Always Ready of Bolívia in the second qualifying round. But their early elimination was hardly the fault of Cauteruccio: He scored all four of Cristal’s goals in the two-legged tie — the problem was that his side conceded seven themselves to fall 7-4 on aggregate.

Since 2007, Cauteruccio has been trotting around Latin America at clubs like Nacional, San Lorenzo, Cruz Azul, Estudiantes and Independiente, always giving solid service and scoring plenty of goals. The 5-foot-10 striker is not physically imposing or especially quick, but he grew up with an understanding of the game, a fiercely competitive nature and a burning desire to get the best out of his talent.

His highlight — in a collective sense at least — came a decade ago in Argentina when he was part of the San Lorenzo side that won the 2014 Copa Libertadores for the first time, beating shock finalists Nacional of Paraguay to the trophy.

Later that year in the final of the Club World Cup, San Lorenzo came up against Real Madrid. The European champions paraded a front line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, backed up by James Rodríguez and Toni Kroos; the San Lorenzo attack was led by Cauteruccio.

Real Madrid won 2-0 without breaking sweat but a decade later, while the Peruvian league may be considered the weakest in South America, Cauteruccio has found a place where his own goal-scoring feats can be compared to the greats.

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