Ronaldo, Haaland, Mbappe: the highest goals-per-game ratios in Champions League history

Erling Haaland

Cristiano Ronaldo is the top Champions League/European Cup goalscorer of all time.

The Portuguese has bagged 140 goals in the competition, 15 more than his closest competitor, Lionel Messi. He has cemented hímself as the tournament's best-ever marksman in terms of volume, but the same cannot be said in regards to his goals-per-game ratio.

Of the 50 top goalscorers in the tournament's history, who possesses the best GPG ratio? Read on to find out.

Kylian Mbappe – 31 goals in 51 matches; 0.61 goals-per-game

On Tuesday, Mbappe bagged a brace in Paris Saint-Germain's convincing victory over Club Brugge to become the youngest player to reach 30 goals in Champions League history, beating teammate Messi's record.

Kylian Mbappe

He has now found the back of the net 31 times in just 51 matches, giving him an impressive ratio of 0.61. As of yet, though, his goalscoring ability has not brought him any Champions League silverware, with him coming closest last year when PSG lost 1-0 in the final to Bayern Munich.

Eusebio – 45 in 65; 0.71 GPG

The Portuguese legend spent the majority of his career with Benfica, and he proved to be lethal in the European Cup. All in all, he scored 45 goals in 65 games, earning him an impressive ratio of 0.71 – considerably higher than Mbappe.

Eusebio

Five of those strikes came during the 1961/62 competition, which culminated in Benfica beating Real Madrid 5-3 in the final – Eusebio bagged a brace. That, though, was the last European trophy the striker or the club would win, with the 'curse' of Bela Gutmann taking effect immediately after.

Jean-Pierre Papin – 28 in 37; 0.76 GPG

Papin's career spanned 17 years, with most of his European Cup/Champions League goals coming for Marseille and AC Milan. He consistently found the back of the net in European competition, finishing his career with 28 goals in 37 matches in Europe's premier club competition.

Jean-Pierre Papin

He did win the Champions League in 1994 with AC Milan, but was not part of the matchday squad in the final as AC Milan humbled Barcelona 4-0, while he was an unused substitute the year before as his former club Marseille beat the Italian giants.

Ruud van Nistelrooy – 56 in 73; 0.77 GPG

Papin is edged by van Nistelrooy, who scored 56 times in 73 matches, giving him a ratio of 0.77. Eight of his strikes came for PSV, 35 were scored at Manchester United, and he plundered 13 during his spell at Real Madrid.

Giveaway

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Interestingly, the former Netherlands international is only one of two players on this list never to play in a final – the other will be revealed later. In fact, he only ever reached one semi-final, while at United in 2002, as the Red Devils lost to eventual runners-up Bayer Leverkusen. However, his disappointing team record did not stop him from winning the Champions League top goalscorer award in three separate campaigns.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 140 in 181; 0.77 GPG

The competition's highest-ever goalscorer, Ronaldo is only likely to add to his astounding haul as he continues to play at the highest level. However, he is only eighth on this list. It took him 28 matches to score his first goal in the competition, which has damaged his goals-per-game ratio of 0.77.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Still, Ronaldo's goals have led to silverware. Only Paco Gento has won the European Cup/Champions League more times than the former Juventus man's five, with him scoring in three of those finals. At his current rate – he has six goals in five games this season – his GPG ratio will only increase.

Robert Lewandowski – 82 in 101; 0.81 GPG

While Messi and Ronaldo dominated the Champions League for much of the 2010s, Lewandowski has become European football's star man over the past few campaigns. In 2020, he netted 15 goals in just ten matches as Bayern won the trophy, and he already has nine goals in five games this term.

Robert Lewandowski

All in all, he has a ratio of 0.81 goals-per-game across spells with Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Only Messi and Ronaldo are ahead of him on the all-time goalscoring list, as well, and you can expect Lewandowski to keep finding the back of the net for a while longer.

Lionel Messi – 125 in 154; 0.81 GPG

The Argentinian may have got the better of old rival Ronaldo in this particular ranking, but he only comes home in sixth place himself. Messi did not take as long as the Portugal star to get going in European competition, although he did score just twice in his first three years in the competition.

Lionel Messi

It is instead Barcelona's patchy form in more recent years that stopped him from scoring at the rate we have become used to. Still, 125 goals in 154 matches at a ratio of 0.81 goals-per-game is hardly shabby, and the four Champions League trophies he has won should soften the blow.

Alfredo Di Stefano – 49 in 58; 0.84 GPG

During the European Cup's formative years, Real Madrid were top of the tree, winning the trophy for five consecutive years, including its inaugural edition. Di Stefano was present for all of them, one of the star men of a team full of world-class talent.

Alfredo Di Stefano

In just 58 matches, he scored 49 times, taking home the tournament's Golden Boot in 1958 and 1962. Truly one of the greatest players ever to play the game and a more-than-worthy fifth place on this list of elite goalscorers.

Jose Altafini – 24 in 28; 0.86 GPG

Altafini only played 28 times in the competition, but he was prolific, scoring 24 times at a rate of 0.86 goals-per-game. It was during spells with AC Milan (20) and Juventus (four) when he found the back of the net in the tournament.

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The 1962/63 edition was the Brazilian-turned-Italian's crowning glory. As Milan triumphed, Altafini finished top goalscorer with 14 strikes, including both goals in the 2-1 final win over Benfica. Seven years with Napoli, who didn't qualify for the European Cup until 1987, ultimately stopped the striker from scoring even more.

Ferenc Puskas – 36 in 41; 0.88 GPG

Puskas was the other superstar amongst the Real Madrid squad during the mid-to-late 1950s. He scored one goal in the European Cup for Honved in his homeland of Hungary, with the rest of his 36 strikes coming in the white of the Spanish outfit.

Ferenc Puskas

He was already 31 when he rocked up at the Santiago Bernabeu, but it was the years in the Spanish capital that saw him evolve into a European, rather than just Hungarian, legend. He was present for three Real Madrid triumphs, finishing top goalscorer in the competition in 1959/60 and 1963/64.

Gerd Muller – 34 in 35; 0.97 GPG

Muller may not have been the most elegant of players, but he is arguably the greatest goalscorer in the game's history based on the number of games he played. He averaged more than a goal a match for Germany, and scored a whopping 563 times in 605 outings for Bayern.

Gerd Muller

He missed out on a record of a goal-a-game in the European Cup, but only just. He netted 34 times in 35 matches, finishing as the tournament's top goalscorer no less than four times. During his spell at Bayern, the German side won the trophy in three consecutive seasons between 1973 and 1976, with Muller's goals a massive factor in their success.

Erling Haaland – 23 in 19; 1.21 GPG

Haaland may have only played 19 times in the Champions League, but he is arguably already one of the competition's icons. With both Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund, he has found the back of the net at an alarming rate and, given he is only 21 years of age, he has every chance of toppling Ronaldo at the summit of the all-time charts if he continues at his current rate.

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Stuart Taylor - Aston Villa

Do you know this obscure Aston Villa footballer from the 2000s?

Among his 23 goals, the Norwegian has displayed a variety of finishes. While it is unlikely he will average a goal a game throughout his career, you would not bet against him doing so. His strikes have not yet contributed to much success in the competition – he has not played beyond the quarter-finals – but they surely will do in the future, whether with the 'Schwarzgelben' or, most probably, elsewhere.

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