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Living Legends: Appreciating the five active players to have scored 500+ goals

Luis Suarez made history this week after scoring for Atletico Madrid in their 1-0 win over Alaves, the forward netting the 500th goal of his career for both club and country.

It is a phenomenal total for a player who has been one of world football’s finest over the past decade, Suarez having starred at the highest level for the likes of Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona before making the move to the Spanish capital last summer.

The Uruguayan international has become just the fifth active player to reach 500 career goals, and following the forward’s milestone moment we’ve decided to look back at the legends to have achieved the feat.

Here are the five active players to have scored 500+ career goals:

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo – according to which statisticians you believe – became the greatest goalscorer football has ever seen this year, scoring his 760th goal for club and country to add yet another record to an incredible career of success.

Ronaldo came through the academy system at Sporting Lisbon before earning a glamour move to Manchester United as a teenager, evolving from talented but frustrating winger into arguably the world’s best player and a goalscoring machine during six seasons in the Premier League.

After more than a century of goals, three league titles, a Champions League crown and the first of five Ballon d’Or awards, he moved to Real Madrid in a world-record deal and shattered all manner of goalscoring records in the famed all-white colours.

Ronaldo became the Spanish champion’s all-time record scorer after netting a barely believable 450 goals in 438 appearances across a nine-year spell, one that delivered a further four Champions League trophies and countless individual accolades.

Winner of the European Golden Shoe on four occasions, the goals have continued to flow at Juventus with Ronaldo currently leading the scoring charts in Serie A, bidding to become the first player in history to finish as the leading scorer in England, Spain and Italy.

Ronaldo’s 102 goals for Portugal are more than the next two players on the list – Pauleta and Eusebio – scored combined, the record of Iran’s Ali Daei (109 goals) as the most prolific player in international history now firmly in his sights ahead of this summer’s European Championships.

Lionel Messi

Ronaldo’s achievements, rightly or wrongly, have forever been associated with those of Lionel Messi, the two players having set unprecedented standards in terms of goalscoring success and individual achievements.

Messi has spent his entire career with Barcelona to date and has scored 663 goals for the club in all competitions, alongside a further 71 in 142 caps for Argentina to become the record goalscorer in La Albiceleste’s history.

Witnessing two players produce performances of such standards at the same time has been captivating, and whilst the endless debates over who is the better are tedious, both can be appreciated as icons of the game.

There are few sights more mesmerising than Messi in possession, a footballer with an impossible ability to manoeuvre past challenges and an unerring accuracy when taking sight at goal.

The 33-year-old has averaged almost a goal-per-game in his league career to date, a staggering achievement given he recently eclipsed Xavi as Barcelona’s all-time appearance maker.

Messi has won a record six Ballon d’Or trophies and six European Golden Shoes, whilst no player has ever finished as Spain’s leading scorer on more than his seven occasions – a record-breaking eighth looking likely following an outstanding 2020/21.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Love him or loathe him, there has been no missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic over the past two decades.

Football’s evergreen superstar is continuing to torment top-level defences, currently spearheading the resurgence of AC Milan despite rapidly approaching his 40th birthday.

Ibrahimovic’s career began with Malmo before embarking on a journey of Europe’s elite clubs, taking in spells at Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United alongside two spells with AC Milan.

Those spells have included 11 league titles and five divisional top scorer accolades, whilst his latter career also included a stint in MLS with LA Galaxy, a period which saw the star score 53 goals in just 58 appearances.

Winner of Sweden’s Footballer of the Year award 12 times, Ibrahimovic has also scored a record 62 goals for the national side and there is the promise of more to come after recently coming out of international retirement.

Robert Lewandowski

Arguably the world’s leading goalscorer at present and certainly the best true number nine, Robert Lewandowski is currently enjoying the best period of a record-breaking career.

Lewandowski was named as The Best FIFA Men’s Player in 2020 after helping Bayern Munich to treble success, finishing as the leading scorer in each competition as the Bavarians won the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

The Poland international has scored 42 goals in just 36 appearances in all competitions this season, remarkably the sixth consecutive campaign he has reached 40+ for the Bundesliga champions.

Lewandowski is now just five goals short of matching Gerd Muller’s single season record of 40 in Germany’s top flight, a record well within his grasp after netting 35 in just 25 appearances so far.

The highest-scoring non-German player in the division’s history following an outstanding career for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern, he trails only the aforementioned Muller for Bundesliga goals and only Ronaldo and Messi amongst the Champions League’s all-time scorers.

Heading towards a sixth season as the Bundesliga’s leading scorer, the 31-year-old has also managed a record 63 goals in 116 caps for Poland.

Luis Suarez

The latest name to join this illustrious list, Luis Suarez scored goal number 500 of his career with the winner as Atletico Madrid beat Alaves 1-0 last weekend.

Suarez began his career with Nacional before moving to Europe with Groningen, shooting to wider prominence after moving to Ajax and plundering 111 goals in just 159 appearances for the Eredivisie outfit.

Liverpool secured his signing in 2011 and he soon established himself as one of the Premier League’s leading lights, winning the Golden Boot during a 2013/14 campaign in which he was named as the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.

Barcelona came calling that summer and signed the forward in a £75m deal, where he enjoyed the best period of his career to become the third-highest scoring player in the Catalan’s history.

Suarez scored 198 goals in all competitions for Barcelona and won four league titles and the Champions League amongst his honours, winning the second European Golden Shoe of his career with a 40-goal La Liga campaign in 2015/16.

Surprisingly allowed to depart for divisional rivals Atletico last summer, he has enjoyed a fine renaissance in the Spanish capital and trails only Messi for league goals this season.

The inspiration for Uruguay at international level alongside teammate Edinson Cavani, Suarez is La Celeste’s leading scorer of all-time with 63 goals and fired his nation to Copa America success in 2011.

Read – Ronaldinho – 10 of the best quotes about the magical Brazilian

Read Also – The slow death of the selfish number 9: Why centre-forwards are going out of fashion

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