Ronaldo, Messi, Lewandowski: Who's the Champions League GOAT?

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The return of the Champions League brought fireworks last week. 

Barcelona were humbled by Kylian Mbappe in their own back yard, while Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund put on a five-goal thriller. 

It really is anyone's guess currently who is going to go all the way. 

According to FiveThirtyEight, Manchester City are the favourites statistically, followed by last year's champions Bayern Munich and in spite of their domestic woes, Liverpool. 

If anything, it's been individual performances from the likes of Mbappe and Erling Haaland - rather than collective efforts - that fans have been raving about. 

There's even been discussion about the young duo's potential to usurp Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as Champions League GOATs.

That is going to take some doing - but how do things stand currently?

GIVEMESPORT have ranked the forwards who have made it to the last-16 of the competition with the aim of establishing who really belongs in the later stages, and who's lucky to be sitting at Europe's top tables. 

Let's take a look: 

Not even elite

  • Gabriel Jesus
  • Timo Werner
  • Tammy Abraham
  • Yussuf Poulsen
  • Ferran Torres
  • Lars Stindl
  • Alvaro Morata
  • Alassane Plea
  • Martin Braithwaite
  • Mehdi Taremi
  • Alexander Sørloth
  • Hee-Chan Hwang
  • Mauro Icardi
  • Duvan Zapata
  • Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
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Great potential

  • Diogo Jota
  • Ansu Fati
  • Moise Kean
  • Joao Felix
  • Youssoufa Moukoko
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Past it

  • Sergio Aguero
  • Roberto Firmino
  • Thomas Muller

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Top notch

  • Mohamed Salah
  • Josip Ilicic
  • Raheem Sterling
  • Sadio Mane
  • Antoine Griezmann
  • Luis Suarez
  • Olivier Giroud
  • Youssef En-Nesyri
  • Leroy Sane
  • Jadon Sancho
  • Ciro Immobile
  • Karim Benzema
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Best of the best

  • Lionel Messi
  • Robert Lewandowski
  • Kylian Mbappe
  • Neymar
  • Erling Haaland
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GOAT

  • Cristiano Ronaldo
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We're not going to delve into the rabbit hole of the Messi vs Ronaldo debate for too long, but we're talking about the Champions League here. 

The Portuguese has won it five times and with two clubs - Manchester United and Real Madrid - to Messi's four. Ronaldo is also the top scorer in the competition's history, with 134 goals (Messi has 119). 

So in the echelon below 'GOAT' sits the Argentine, along with Robert Lewandowski (71 Champions League goals) and Karim Benzema (69). 

Perhaps the lower rungs of the ladder seem harsh. Timo Werner certainly looked like an elite player at RB Leipzig, but his early struggles at Chelsea have taken him down a peg. 

Likewise, it's a sad by-product of the futile passing of time that Aguero and Firmino can no longer be classed in the top-notch bracket, at least not in terms of goalscoring. Aguero's injuries have been a huge problem this season and he's expected to leave City when his contract expires. 

Firmino hasn't scored in Europe at all this term. 

At the other end of their careers, we have the likes of 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko, a hugely exciting prospect at Dortmund, but one whom we're reluctant to overhype just yet. The same applies to Ansu Fati at Barcelona and even though he's a bit older, Diogo Jota is still in the first season of his Liverpool stint and is recovering from injury. 

But there are four rounds left of this season's competition - so any of the forwards above still have plenty of time to prove us wrong. 

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