Football

Neymar leads Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in international goals race

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Neymar may not have enjoyed the World Cup he'd always dreamed of, but it certainly looks as though he's making up for lost time in the aftermath of the tournament by banging in the goals left, right and centre.

The Barcelona forward was carried off on a stretcher following a heavy challenge from Colombia's Juan Zuniga at the quarter-final stage that left him with a broken back and put him out of the tournament that he was supposed to carry his country to victory in. 

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The 22-year-old was then forced to stand by and watch as Brazil suffered a record-breaking defeat against Germany in the semi-finals and the Netherlands in the third-place play-off.

Back to his best

Now though he's back and has wasted no time in getting back to his best. He's already got seven La Liga goals for Barcelona in six appearances, while he was at it for Brazil again yesterday. 

In four friendlies for Brazil since the World Cup he's got five goals, including four against Japan in Singapore yesterday. That goal glut took his record for Brazil to an incredible 40 goals in 58 games. At just 22, he looks well on course to beat Pele's record of 77 goals for the Selecao. He's already up to 5th on the overall list, with Zico - who managed 48 goals in 71 games - well and truly in his sights.

Record

For some time now Neymar has been tipped to become one of the best players in the world alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and while he can't quite compete against the illustrious pair at club level, when it comes to international football he certainly holds his own.

Indeed he's already scored more goals that both in FIFA competitions, while he has reached 40 international goals at the age of 22 years and 251 days, only slightly slower than Pelé who did it aged 22 years and 189 days.

After his last-minute winner against Denmark last night, Ronaldo has 51 international goals to his name at the age of 29 from 116 games, while Messi has 44 from 95 and is two years younger than his great rival.

Ratio

Neymar is well on course to score more than the pair, while so far he's got a better goal ratio too, managing 0.69 goals-per-game compared to Ronaldo (0.44) and Messi (0.46). Of course the youngster has his critics who say his goals have come against soft opposition - but for what it's worth 48% of his goals have come against teams in FIFA's top 30 rankings.

However he's still got some way to go in order to be the highest international goal scorer ever - Ali Daei managed an astonishing 109 goals in his international career for Iran. He'll need to up his average to be the most deadly striker in international football history too - Danish hitman Poul Nielsen managed an incredible 52 goals in 38 games at a rate of 1.37-per-match.

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Topics:
Barcelona
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi
Football
Neymar

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