Ronaldo, Messi, Mbappe: Who scored the most goals by age 21?

Football fans have borne witness to many young talents over the years, who burst onto the scene and began tearing up defences seemingly overnight.

There are few things that grab the attention of football fans across the world more than a formidable goal scorer. It’s something about them, the aura they carry, the glory they seize. It’s the hardest thing to do, score consistently as the eyes of the world watch on.

So, when a young teenager barely out of school uniform turns up and begins to run riot against hardened professionals, everyone sits up and takes notice.

Recent examples of this kind of dynamite young star would be Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland. But how do they fare in comparison to the superstars of the past?

Well, in terms of goals before the age of 21, pretty darn well.

Check out the top 10 in that regards as follows:

The 10 players with the most goals by age 21

10. Cristiano Ronaldo – 36 goals in 182 appearances

9.  Lionel Messi – 51 goals in 140 appearances

8. Karim Benzema – 62 goals in 143 appearances

7. Wayne Rooney – 66 goals in 212 appearances

6. Michael Owen – 76 goals in 156 appearances

5. Sergio Aguero – 84 goals in 213 appearances

4. Kylian Mbappe – 116 goals in 199 appearances

3. Erling Haaland – 118 goals in 168 appearances

2. Neymar – 140 goals in 220 appearances

1. Ronaldo Nazario – 167 goals in 185 appearances

There you have it, the illustrious ‘R9’ still reigns supreme. The Brazilian was on another level in the early stages of his career, leaving a trail of destruction in his path at Cruzeiro, PSV, and Barcelona, before becoming the youngest ever recipient of the Ballon D’or in 1997. He wasn’t called ‘O Fenômeno’ for nothing.

Haaland just about did enough to pip present day rival Mbappe to third on the star-studded list. Although, Neymar holds the aces over both of his younger counterparts.

Ex-Liverpool and England bagsman Owen comes in at number six, who like Ronaldo, won the Ballon D’or at 21, albeit a few months further along from his birthday.

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The most surprising thing about the top 10 is how far down Ronaldo and Messi find themselves. ‘CR7’ moved to Manchester United aged 18 and saw his goals steadily increase season-on-season before his £80 million move to Real Madrid caused his goal scoring returns to rocket.

Meanwhile, Messi found himself in a Barcelona team ran by Ronaldinho at the time and despite making an instant impact with the Catalan giants, he was carefully managed by Frank Rijkaard.

The real question posed now is can Ronaldo’s record ever be broken? Any player attempting to do so would need to reach a staggering figure nearing the 200-goal mark to surpass the Brazilian icon.

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Can you name the team that plays in this UEFA Champions League final stadium from 2021?

But who knows, in football, anything is possible.

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