Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have well and truly mastered the art of goal scoring.
Both superstars have found the back of the net at a rate many thought was impossible over a prolonged period of time at the highest level – especially in the modern era.
Fifty goals in a single campaign? It’s become the norm for the two greatest to have ever played the game.
So it’s no surprise to learn that in nine different seasons since the turn of the century, Messi or Ronaldo have been the top goal scorer in Europe.
But they’re far from the only players to have lit up the continent with their brilliance in front of goal in the past 20 years. Below, we’e provided the top scorer from each campaign since 2000/01, along with their game and goal record in all competitions from that particular season.
All data sourced from Transfermarkt.
2000/01: Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan)
What a player Sheva was in his prime. The Ukrainian was in the form of his life in 2000/01, scoring 24 Serie A goals – the joint-most he managed in a single campaign with Milan.
2001/02: Mario Jardel (Sporting Lisbon)
A real blast from the past. The Brazilian was on fire in 01/02, scoring 42 goals in 30 Liga NoS games, but it all went downhill for Jardel shortly after. He joined Bolton in the summer of 2003 and scored just one goal in nine games for the club.
2002/03: Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United)
We all forget just how deadly Van Nistelrooy was. In 2002/03, he scored 25 Premier League goals in 32 matches, but a more eye-catching achievement from that season was his 12 goals in just nine Champions League games!
2003/04: Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
Henry was unstoppable the year the Gunners became the ‘Invincibles’. In the Premier League alone, the Frenchman scored 30 goals in just 37 games.
2004/05: Roy Makaay (Bayern Munich)
Remember him? The Dutchman and goals went hand-in-hand during the early 2000s and 04/05 was his deadliest campaign, with the elite marksman scoring 22 goals in the Bundesliga and seven in the Champions League.
2005/06: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Ajax & SC Heerenveen)
Dutch strikers were on fire at the start of the century. During the first half of 2005/06, Huntelaar scored 17 in 15 Eredivisie games for Heerenveen and after a January move to Ajax, he added another 16 in 16 league matches.
2006/07: Afonso Alves (SC Heerenveen)
It all went so, so wrong for the Brazilian at Middlesbrough, but in 06/07 he was Europe’s most prolific goal scorer after replacing Huntelaar at Heerenveen. Thirty-four of his goals came in just 31 Eredivisie games.
2007/08: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
2008/09: Marc Janko (Red Bull Salzburg)
A surprise entry, but the Austrian’s form in front of goal in 08/09 was scarily good. Thirty-nine goals in 34 league games? That is some effort!
2009/10: Luis Suarez (Ajax)
Before he was dazzling the Anfield faithful at Liverpool, Suarez was casually scoring more goals than games played at Ajax in 09/10. In the Eredivisie, the Uruguayan scored 35 times in 33 games that season.
2010/11: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Messi’s first season as Europe’s goal-scoring king. The Argentine was also the first to notch 50+ goals in a single campaign in the new millennium.
2011/12: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Seventy-three goals in a season is almost superhuman, with 50 of them scored in La Liga. Unsurprisingly, these ridiculous numbers coincided with Messi scoring 91 goals in a calendar year.
2012/13: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Yeah okay Leo, we get it, scoring 50+ goals in a single season is easy for you! It’s ridiculous to think Messi scored 186 goals in just three seasons – outrageous stuff.
2013/14: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
The year Ronaldo helped secure ‘La Decima’ by scoring an unprecedented 17 goals in his 11 appearances in the Champions League.
2014/15: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Just the 10 Champions League goals for Ronaldo in 14/15, but the Portuguese decided to do a madness in La Liga the same season by scoring 48 goals in 35 games.
2015/16: Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
Beating both Messi and Ronaldo in their prime? Seriously impressive stuff from Suarez. The Uruguayan also emulated the aforementioned pair by scoring 40 goals in La Liga alone.
2016/17: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
He’s back. Just the 37 La Liga goals and 11 Champions League strikes for Leo in 15/16, poor by the standards he had set previously…
2017/18: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Only 34 league goals?! Time to up your game, Leo. The Argentine only managed to strike six times in the Champions League as well, which is a seriously average return in Messi-land.
2018/19: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
This time around, the great man doubled his Champions League tally from 2017/18 to 12 and notched 36 goals in La Liga. You really do run out of words to describe this guy.
2019/20: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
The Bayern front man will all but certainly secure the title of Europe’s top goal scorer for the 2019/20 season. The Pole is without question the best out-and-out striker in the world right now.
GIVEMESPORT’S Danny Ryan says…
Remind me again why Ronaldo is considered to be the better goal scorer over Messi?
Because the stats appears to be in favour of the Argentine here, with the Barcelona legend finishing top of the scoring pile in SIX different seasons.
A special shoutout to Suarez as well, a player who’s often ridiculed these days as he approaches the end of his career but has scored goals at a frightening rate throughout his career.
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