Regarded as one of Europe’s premier domestic competitions by football’s governing bodies, La Liga has played host to some of the game’s all-time greats throughout its long and illustrious history.
Some of world football’s finest finishers have plied their trades in Spanish football for leading clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and we’ve decided to look back at the greatest goalscorers the division has seen.
Here are the five highest goalscorers in La Liga history:
Raul – 228 goals
Raul began his career in the youth system of city rivals Atletico before making his name as a star at Real Madrid, establishing himself as one of the greatest players in the history of Spanish football.
The forward briefly held the record as Real Madrid’s youngest ever player when making his debut as a teenager, before scoring his first goal in the capital derby the following week and quickly cementing himself in the first-team set up at the Bernabeu.
Raul scored prolifically during a 16 season stay with Los Blancos, winning a host of major honours including six La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies – scoring in two finals.
The forward scored 323 goals in all competitions for Real with 228 of those goals coming in league action, the fifth-highest tally of any player in the history of Spain’s top flight.
The home-grown hero of a Galactico era at the world’s biggest club, Raul also once reigned as the leading scorer in the history of the Champions League and Spanish national side.
Hugo Sanchez – 234 goals
One of the key figures in a golden period for Real Madrid and widely regarded as the greatest Mexican footballer of all-time, Sanchez became a huge favourite in the Spanish capital courtesy of his ruthless – and often spectacular – finishing and trademark somersault celebration.
Sanchez began his career in La Liga with an impressive four-year spell at Atletico Madrid, before crossing the city divide and inspiring rivals Real to five consecutive league titles between 1986 and 1990.
Only two players have finished as the division’s leading scorer on more occasions than Sanchez’s five, the Mexican winning the Pichichi award five times in just a six season spell.
That prolific run also included winning the European Golden Shoe in 1990 after a 38-goal La Liga campaign – a record that lasted two decades and incredibly saw the forward score every single goal with a one-touch finish.
Happy 6⃣0⃣th birthday HUGO SANCHEZ! 🇲🇽🎉
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) July 11, 2018
Telmo Zarra – 251 goals
The all-time record goalscorer in the history of Athletic Bilbao, Zarra spent the majority of his footballing career with the Basque club and scored at an unprecedented rate in Spanish football’s top flight.
Zarra scored 251 league goals in just 278 appearances for Bilbao and helped the club to the La Liga title in 1943, in addition to five Copa del Rey successes – memorably scoring a record four times in the final victory over Valladolid in 1950.
He remains the leading scorer in Copa del Rey history and his reign as the leading scorer in La Liga history stood for six decades, whilst only Lionel Messi has ever won the Pichichi trophy on more occasions.
Zarra also scored 20 goals in just 20 appearances for the Spanish national side, with Marca recognising his legacy with the creation of the ‘Zarra Trophy’, formed after his death in 2006 and awarded to the highest scoring Spanish player in each La Liga season.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 311 goals
Ronaldo’s goalscoring exploits are difficult to fathom following a phenomenal career at the top level, the Portuguese international cementing himself as the greatest goalscorer in Real Madrid history during a goal-laden nine-year spell at the Bernabeu.
The forward arrived in a world-record deal from Manchester United in 2009 and quickly began to cement his position amongst the game’s all-time greats, breaking a host of records including eclipsing Raul as Real’s record goalscorer and winning the Pichichi award on three occasions.
Ronaldo, somewhat incredibly, managed better than a goal-per-game throughout his time in the all-white colours of Madrid, winning four Champions League trophies and two La Liga titles amongst his extensive list of honours.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is the second-highest scorer in La Liga history on 311 goals, in addition to being the Champions League’s all-time record goalscorer.
Lionel Messi – 472 goals
Far and away the leading goalscorer in the history of Spanish football’s top flight, Lionel Messi’s landmark looks like a figure that may never be matched.
The Argentine is regarded by many as the greatest footballer the game has witnessed, winning ten La Liga titles and lifting the Champions League on four occasions in the famous colours of Barcelona.
Messi’s goalscoring exploits have seen the six-time Ballon d’Or winner finish as Spain’s top scorer a record seven times, with an eighth accolade and fifth in succession set to come this season as he continues to elevate the sport to new heights.
The 33-year-old has also won the European Golden Shoe six times, including after scoring a La Liga record of 50 league goals during the most prolific single season of his career in 2011/12. That year also saw Messi break Germany legend Gerd Muller’s 40-year record for most goals in a calendar year, scoring 91 times throughout 2012.