The Champions League's greatest ever scorers ranked by their goal-per-game ratios

Juventus v FC Barcelona  - UEFA Champions League Final

The Champions League is one of the most prestigious accolades in all of sport.

With clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich dominating their native leagues, being able to conquer Europe has become the true barometer of a club's success.

Besides, hoovering up almost 10 consecutive Scudettos or Bundesliga titles is one thing, but being able to dethrone mega clubs like Liverpool and Real Madrid is a different ball game.

So, it's no wonder that countless legendary players have reached new heights by succeeding in the Champions League and perhaps none more so than Cristiano Ronaldo.

With a staggering 128 goals to his name, Ronaldo holds the Champions League scoring record and is considered by many to be European competition's greatest of all time.

Champions League's greatest goal-scorers

However, anybody well versed in comparing goal-scorers knows better than to just take the totals at face value... begging the question: who has the best goal-per-game ratio in the competition?

We decided to tackle that query here at GIVEMESPORT by taking the 25 highest scorers in Champions League history - sorry, no European Cup here - and ranking them by their lethality.

You might be surprised to hear that Ronaldo is NOT the most lethal scorer, instead winding up in third, so do yourself a favour and check out the full statistical rankings down below:

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25. Ryan Giggs - 0.19

Games: 145

Goals: 28

Nearly racking up 30 Champions League goals from midfield is no mean feat, but Giggs finds himself bottom of the rankings just as he did out of the Premier League's 100-goal club.

SL Benfica v Manchester United FC - UEFA Champions League

24. Arjen Robben - 0.28

Games: 110

Goals: 31

Again, the earlier rungs of this list are largely going to be occupied with midfielders and wingers, but Robben won't complain when one of his 31 strikes was the winner in the 2013 final.

Arsenal FC v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg

23. Kaka - 0.35

Games: 86

Goals: 30

Eighty per cent of the Ballon d'Or-winning midfielder's goals came during his time for AC Milan, so just imagine how highly he could have placed if things had worked out at Real Madrid...

Club Atletico de Madrid v AC Milan - UEFA Champions League Round of 16

22. Wayne Rooney - 0.35

Games: 85

Goals: 30

With an almost identical record to Kaka, it's hard not to view Rooney's European record as a little disappointing, especially when he never scored more than five times in a single Champions League season.

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21. Fernando Morientes - 0.35

Games: 93

Goals: 33

We're creeping into the territory of out-and-out strikers now and Real Madrid fans will forever be grateful for Morientes' strike during the 2000 final. Over half of his goals came with Los Blancos.

Monaco's Spanish forward Fernando Morien

20. Samuel Eto'o - 0.38

Games: 78 

Goals: 30

Winning back-to-back Champions League titles in 2009 and 2010, Eto'o has always loved the European stage, although his goal-scoring ratio is a little more aesthetically-pleasing in league games.

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19. Thomas Muller - 0.40

Games: 111

Goals: 44

This is darn impressive from a player who has never been a bona fide number nine, but just imagine how highly Muller could have placed if he hadn't gone off the boil in recent seasons.

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18. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - 0.40

Games: 120

Goals: 48

The club-hopping Swede is perhaps more famous for having not won the Champions League than thriving in it, but finishing just shy of a half-century of goals in Europe is nothing to be ashamed of.

Smashing home four in one game for Paris Saint-Germain against Anderlecht remains his magnum opus.

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17. Patrick Kluivert - 0.41

Games: 71

Goals: 29

Bursting on to the scene by scoring the winner in the 1995 final as a mere teenager, Kluivert remained a reliable striker in Europe with Ajax and Barcelona throughout his career.

Patrick Kluivert

16. Thierry Henry - 0.45

Games: 112

Goals: 50

There's a growing cohort of fans that believe Henry is somehow overrated and a Champions League goal-per-game ratio that falls short of his reputation will certainly strengthen their argument.

FC Barcelona v Bayern Munich - UEFA Champions League

15. Alessandro del Piero - 0.47

Games: 89

Goals: 44

It's easy to forget just how incredible Del Piero really was during his pomp with Juventus, but nearly scoring 50 goals as a deep-lying forward proves he should be remembered even fonder.

Juventus Italian forward Alessandro Del

14. Roy Makaay - 0.48

Games: 61

Goals: 29

If you know, you know. Makaay is one of the lesser known strikers on the list, yet his iconic nine-goal European season with Deportivo was pure class and the goals didn't dry up when he switched to Bayern Munich either.

The Dutchman also holds the distinction of scoring the fastest goal in Champions League history.

FOOT-CORUNA-ARSENAL

13. Didier Drogba - 0.48

Games: 92

Goals: 44

We're not sure Drogba really gives a damn about his goal-per-game ratio when he scored an iconic equaliser and the winning penalty during Chelsea's victory in the 2012 final.

Chelsea's Ivorian forward Didier Drogba

12. Andriy Shevchenko - 0.48

Games: 100

Goals: 48

If Shevchenko had sustained his very best form with AC Milan - scoring nine European goals in 2000/01 and 2005/06 - for a little longer, then a top 10 place would have been guaranteed.

Andriy Shevchenko of AC Milan celebrates

11. David Trezeguet - 0.50

Games: 58

Goals: 29

The vast majority of the Frenchman's goals on the continent came with Juventus, bagging eight in the 2001/02 season alone and coming within a hair's length of winning the 2003 title vs AC Milan.

Juventus' forward David Trezeguet (R) ce

10. Raul - 0.50

Games: 142

Goals: 71

For a long time, Raul was the number one striker in Champions League history, becoming its youngest ever hat-trick scorer at just 18 and bagging 10 goals in the 1999/00 campaign alone.

The Real legend also found the net in both the 2000 and 2002 finals, winning the title in both.

Real Madrid's Raul Gonzalez kisses his ring after

9. Karim Benzema - 0.54

Games: 119

Goals: 64

We're now into the territory of players who average more than a goal every two games and who better to kick things off than with a Real striker who never seems to get the credit he deserves?

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8. Sergio Aguero - 0.55

Games: 71

Goals: 39

It might be well documented that Manchester City keep failing in their attempts to win a maiden Champions League, but that hasn't stopped from Aguero from being just as lethal as he is in the Premier League.

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7. Edinson Cavani - 0.56

Games: 62

Goals: 35

Haters will say Cavani's stats are bloated by merely scoring in the group stages and, to be honest, the haters would largely be right, but who are we to mock such a lethal goal-scoring rate?

Paris Saint-Germain v Celtic FC - UEFA Champions League

6. Filippo Inzaghi - 0.57

Games: 81

Goals: 46

An absolute god amongst footballing hipsters, Inzaghi was the ultimate poacher and destroyer of offside traps, bagging 10 goals in Europe with Juventus in 1999-00 and a mind-blowing 12 for AC Milan in 2002/03.

UEFA Champions League Final: Liverpool v AC Milan

5. Neymar - 0.61

Games: 57

Goals: 35

Say what you like about Neymar and trust us, there's plenty to say, but there can be no denying his goal-per-game brilliance and the Brazilian has never been far away from scoring for either Barca or PSG.

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4. Robert Lewandowski - 0.74

Games: 86

Goals: 64

It's incredibly tight at the top and you can expect Lewandowski to surpass Raul's total in the coming seasons when you consider he's notched a barely-believable 39 goals in 33 games for Bayern in 2019/20.

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3. Cristiano Ronaldo - 0.76

Games: 169

Goals: 128

The GOAT of the Champions League? Most likely, but failing to score in Europe until his third season with Manchester United is almost certainly responsible for his shock, third-place finish.

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2. Ruud van Nistelrooy - 0.77

Games: 73

Goals: 56

RVN might 'only' be the Champions League's sixth greatest scorer and he isn't a member of the Premier League 100-club, but boy does he shine whenever his goal-per-game ratio is compared to the greats.

Real Madrid's Dutchman Ruud Van Nistelro

1. Lionel Messi - 0.81

Games: 141

Goals: 114

Now this drives a massive spear into the hornet's net that is the Messi vs Ronaldo debate.

Perhaps this should serve as food for thought when one of the biggest arguments in favour of CR7 is his Champions League record and Messi even has age on his side to claim the scoring throne outright.

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Messi comes out on top

Some real surprises, that's for sure.

While you can never make major decisions on players based on a single statistic, there's certainly reason to take Ronaldo's record with a pinch of salt when you consider this new information.

Sure, his early days at Old Trafford are responsible for the discrepancy, but Messi was similarly forced to grow and adapt his game while playing for a top, Champions League club.

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristia

There's no right or wrong answer for European competition's greatest goal-scorer, it just happens that the statistical solution might actually be Messi as opposed to Ronaldo. Talk about a plot twist.

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