European football will wave farewell to one of the game’s greatest goalscorers this summer, as Lionel Messi departs for MLS after a record-breaking career on the continent.
Messi has agreed a deal to sign for Inter Miami after spells at Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain that have seen the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner regarded, by many, as football’s best ever.
Messi will move on with his legacy and legend assured, following a career in which the Argentine has set unprecedented standards.
Following the news of his European exit, we’ve ranked the five highest goalscorers in the history of Europe’s top five leagues.
5. Robert Lewandowski – 335 goals
Robert Lewandowski has been one of the great goalscorers of the modern era and the Barcelona forward remains one of the best number nines around.
Lewandowski has scored 335 goals in Europe’s top five leagues during prolific spells at Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Barcelona. The Poland international made his name with the former and won back-to-back Bundesliga titles at Dortmund, before a free transfer move to divisional rivals Bayern Munich.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) September 28, 2022
Lewandowski’s goals helped inspire an unprecedented period of domestic dominance for Germany’s most successful side, who won eight consecutive league titles during the forward’s time in Munich. He scored 238 goals in 253 league appearances for the Bavarians, including a record-breaking 41 goals during the 2020/21 Bundesliga season
Lewandowski led the Bundesliga for goals on a joint-record seven occasions and twice won the European Golden Shoe at Bayern. He signed for Barcelona in search of a new challenge last summer and scored 23 league goals to win the Pichichi Trophy as La Liga’s leading scorer in his debut campaign.
4. Jimmy Greaves – 357 goals
Fans of a certain generation might occasionally forget, but football in England started well before the birth of the Premier League in the early nineties.
Harry Kane might be chasing down Alan Shearer’s Premier League goal record, but the Tottenham forward has some distance to go to catch Jimmy Greaves’ all-time top-flight record.
Greaves scored 357 top-flight goals during a career spent in bulk at Chelsea and Tottenham, with the former England international leading the league for goals on a record six occasions.
This moment of genius from Jimmy Greaves is 57 years old today.
So much to enjoy here: the balance, the poise, and then the effortless finish.
What a player.
— A Funny Old Game (@sid_lambert) October 16, 2022
Steve Bloomer and Dixie Dean are the only other players have ever passed the 300-goal mark in the top division and Greaves is a huge 144 goals ahead of Kane – the highest active goalscorer in English football.
Greaves also scored 44 goals in 57 appearances for England and was part of the Three Lions squad that won the World Cup in 1966, but did not feature in the final after Geoff Hurst impressed in place of the injured Greaves during the knockout rounds.
3. Gerd Muller – 365 goals
Gerd Muller was a goal machine and boasts a goal-per-game record for club and country that few can match.
Muller is the leading scorer in the history of the Bundesliga after scoring 365 goals in the division, during a career that saw the forward win four league titles and three European Cups at Bayern Munich.
Muller was the Bundesliga’s top scorer on a joint-record seven occasions and scored 563 goals in all competitions for Bayern, while he boasts the best goal-per-game ratio in European Cup history after scoring 34 goals in 35 games (0.97).
‘Der Bomber’s’ record was even better at international level, where he scored 68 goals in just 62 caps for West Germany and won both the European Championship and World Cup. He is one of just nine players to have won the World Cup, European Cup/Champions League and the Ballon d’Or.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – 495 goals
Cristiano Ronaldo ranks second for goals scored in Europe’s top five leagues after scoring an astonishing 495 league goals in the continent’s top divisions.
Ronaldo signed for Manchester United after an exciting emergence at Sporting Lisbon and evolved into one of world football’s finest in the Premier League. He won three consecutive league titles and the 2008 Champions League with the Red Devils, starring during the latter success to win a first Ballon d’Or.
The Portugal international joined Real Madrid in an £80m world-record deal in 2009 and went on to become the club’s all-time record goalscorer. Ronaldo scored 450 goals in 438 games in all competitions for the Spanish side, earning further Ballon d’Or accolades in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) March 5, 2023
Ronaldo’s latter career in Europe took in spells at Juventus and former club Manchester United, with the forward having won leading scorer accolades in England, Spain and Italy.
Ronaldo’s list of goal records include being the leading scorer in Champions League, European Championship and international football history, while he is the only player to score in five different FIFA World Cups
1. Lionel Messi – 496 goals
Lionel Messi will depart European football as the greatest goalscorer in the history of the continent’s leading leagues.
Messi has scored 496 league goals during spells at Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain and moved past Ronaldo’s record with a goal at Strasbourg in May, before deciding to leave PSG in search of a new challenge.
Messi’s finest football came in the colours of Barcelona, for who he holds the club’s all-time goal and appearance records. The Argentine has scored more La Liga goals (474) than any other player and also holds the record for most goals in a single La Liga season (50), reached in 2011/12.
“The perfect free-kick taker doesn’t exi-“
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) March 29, 2020
His genius is all the more apparent when considered Messi holds the records for the most La Liga assists (192) and the most assists in a single La Liga season (21) recorded in 2019/20.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has now won 43 trophies during his career, including 12 league titles in Spain and France and Copa America and World Cup success with Argentina.
Read Also – 90s Hitmen: Christian ‘Bobo’ Vieri – Il Toro