Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first Premier League goal for Manchester United in November 2003 and he quickly became one of the most prolific players in Europe.
Having scored over 100 goals for three of Europe’s biggest clubs, Ronaldo’s goalscoring prowess knew no limits. Throughout his club career, he has scored at a rate of 0.74 goals per game which is absolutely ridiculous.
The 37-year-old has now departed the European game, but his record over the course of his 19 and a half seasons in Europe’s major leagues was truly remarkable.
We’ve gone back through the archives and taken a closer look at the top 10 goalscorers in Europe’s big five leagues since Ronaldo made he made his debut for Manchester United back in 2003.
10. Edin Dzeko – 221
Perhaps one of the most underrated strikers of the last decade, Dzeko is still going strong at 36 years old in Serie A. With 221 goals in Europe’s top five leagues, he gets into this top 10 ahead of the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Wayne Rooney and Thierry Henry.
9. Gonzalo Higuain – 237
The France-born Argentinian striker had the best spell of his career whilst he was with Napoli, having scored an average of 0.68 goals per game in the league during his three-year spell at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
He also ranks 14th on Real Madrid’s all-time top goalscorers list, having scored 107 La Liga goals during his spell at the Bernabeu. In total, Higuain has scored 237 goals in Europe’s top five leagues.
The iconic Napoli announcer Decibel Bellini and the fans chanting Gonzalo Higuain's name at the Stadio San Paolo.
Spine-tingling noise. 📢pic.twitter.com/rJ8DuMURTV
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) October 3, 2022
8. Luis Suarez – 248
“I actually think he was the best centre-forward in the world for like four years. Not just at Liverpool, but what he did at Barcelona for the next two or three years,” Jamie Carragher told the Overlap.
A two-time winner of the European Golden Shoe, Suarez was breathtaking during his prime. In total, he has scored 248 goals in Europe’s top five leagues for Liverpool, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. That’s not even counting the 91 Eredivisie goals he scored for Groningen and Ajax.
Only Lionel Messi and Cesar Rodriguez have scored more goals for Barcelona than the Uruguayan, which is pretty astonishing when you consider he was only at the Camp Nou for six – ridiculously prolific – seasons.
7. Sergio Aguero – 259
Aguero ranks fifth on the all-time Premier League top goalscorers ranking with 184 goals for Manchester City. He scored an additional 75 for Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, taking his overall tally to 259 in Europe’s top five leagues.
On this day 8 years ago, Sergio Aguero scored the most iconic goal of Premier League history.
As Martin Tyler said: "AGUEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOO"pic.twitter.com/P5duCUuHpk
— Transfer HQ (@Transfer__HQ) May 13, 2020
6. Edinson Cavani – 267
The Uruguayan striker is still scoring goals today for Valencia in La Liga. Across a career which has spanned over 17 years so far, Cavani has 267 goals to show for it in Europe which is a superb return – notching in four of Europe’s top five leagues, with only the Bundesliga missing out.
Kylian Mbappe may be breathing down his neck, but the 35-year-old remains PSG’s all-time top scorer for now (200 goals in all competitions, 138 in Ligue 1).
5. Karim Benzema – 270
“There is now an absolute fear from other defenders when he comes up against them,” Rio Ferdinand told BT Sport in 2022. “There are players going to bed not sleeping as comfortably as they would have in previous years because of the way he has reached a rich vein of form.”
Benzema deservedly won the latest Ballon d’Or for his remarkable 2021-22 campaign. He often sacrificed his own goalscoring return to accommodate others, but a tally of 270 league goals (227 for Madrid, 43 for Lyon) speaks to his brilliance.
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 301
There’s standing the test of time and then there’s Ibrahimovic. The Swedish striker has scored goals in four separate decades and he is still of use to AC Milan today at 41 years old.
Since Ronaldo made his debut in 2003, Ibrahimovic has scored 301 goals in Europe’s top five leagues, with his most prolific spell coming with PSG between 2012 and 2016.
On top of that, Ibrahimovic scored 35 Eredivisie goals for Ajax and 16 league goals for his boyhood club Malmo.
3. Robert Lewandowski – 325
We still can’t believe Lewandowski was robbed of a Ballon d’Or in 2020 when the event was cancelled. He’s now smashing it in La Liga after dominating the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich – only the legendary
The Polish striker has scored 325 goals in the Bundesliga and La Liga and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down any time soon.
2. Lionel Messi – 487
Messi will surely have his eyes set on the number one spot as his tally of 487 league goals is just a few away from matching Ronaldo’s tally. His tally of 91 goals in 2012 is a record which is bound to stand the test of time.
Way out front as La Liga’s all-time goalscorer with 474 goals in 520 appearances for Barcelona, he’s since added another 13 in Ligue 1 with PSG.
Now that he seems comfortable with his surroundings in Paris, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him carrying on for another few years and break all sorts of goalscoring records.
10 years ago today, Lionel Messi scored his *91st* goal of the calendar year. Here's every single one of them.
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) December 22, 2022
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 495
Who else but Ronaldo? When it comes to goalscoring on the biggest stage, CR7 is inevitable. With a record of 495 goals in Europe’s top five leagues, he is out ahead of anyone else since he made his debut for Manchester United in 2003.
The legendary forward scored 311 goals in 292 La Liga appearances for Real Madrid, 103 goals in 236 Premier League appearances for Manchester United and 81 goals in 98 Serie A appearances for Juventus. He also scored three goals in the Portuguese top flight as a teenager for boyhood club Sporting Lisbon.
We might yet see Ronaldo return to Europe after a stint in Saudi Arabia, but if not he has still left behind one of the greatest legacies of all time in Europe.