Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar: Who's been the deadliest forward in the 21st century?

Cristiano Ronaldo averages 0.75 goals-per-game in his career

It’s widely accepted these days that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the two greatest goalscorers in football history.

The two global icons have both found the back of the net with frightening regularity during the course of their incredible careers thus far.

Messi and Ronaldo have each scored over 700 goals, which is frankly ridiculous.

However, while no player in the 21st century comes close to matching their numbers overall, neither of them take the title of the deadliest forward since the turn of the millennium.

Ronaldo’s record of averaging 0.75 goals-per-game is only good enough for a bronze medal in that regard, while Messi takes the runner-up spot.

So who has been deadlier in front of goal than the superstar duo? Well, thanks to Transfermarkt, you can find out the answer to that very question below.

GMS Giveaway


The 20 deadliest forwards in the 21st century

20. Radamel Falcao (193 goals) – 0.52 goals-per-game

19. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (295 goals) – 0.53 goals-per-game

18. David Trezeguet (209 goals) – 0.53 goals-per-game

17. Romelu Lukaku (282 goals) – 0.54 goals-per-game

16. Thierry Henry (317 goals) – 0.54 goals-per-game

Henry with Arsenal

15. Mohamed Salah (224 goals) – 0.55 goals-per-game

14. Sergio Aguero (402 goals) – 0.56 goals-per-game

13. Pauleta (245 goals) – 0.56 goals-per-game

12. Ronaldo (144 goals) – 0.56 goals-per-game

11. Edinson Cavani (409 goals) – 0.56 goals-per-game

Cavani with Man Utd

10. Ruud van Nistelrooy (270 goals) – 0.60 goals-per-game

9. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (447 goals) – 0.60 goals-per-game

8. Neymar (263 goals) – 0.62 goals-per-game

7. Kylian Mbappe (184 goals) – 0.62 goals-per-game

6. Luis Suarez (368 goals) – 0.62 goals-per-game

Suarez with Atletico

5. Harry Kane (269 goals) – 0.64 goals-per-game

4. Robert Lewandowski (486 goals) – 0.74 goals-per-game

3. Cristiano Ronaldo (790 goals) – 0.75 goals-per-game

2. Lionel Messi (755 goals) – 0.80 goals-per-game

1. Erling Haaland (82 goals) – 0.98 goals-per-game

Haaland with Dortmund

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Haaland is an absolute machine, isn’t he?

If the 21-year-old can maintain the goalscoring form he’s shown over the past two years or so for the majority of his career, legendary status awaits him.

Lewandowski’s sparkling displays at Bayern of late mean the striker is now very close to matching Ronaldo’s goals-per-game record, which is quite something.

Lewandowski in action

Poland’s record goalscorer has already found the back of the net 19 times in 15 appearances this season, an average of 1.26 per game.

Not bad, Robert.

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