The 20 players with the most international goals & assists since 2000: Messi or Ronaldo?

Many footballers consider the privilege of playing for their country as the highest of honours and players from the likes of Barcelona, Liverpool and PSG have thrived on the international stage.

We have taken a look at the numbers to find out the top 20 players with the most goals and assists in international football in the 21st century.

It will come as no surprise that Lionel Messi tops the list. Having recently won the World Cup, Messi further cemented his immortal legacy on the international stage.

Messi’s best goalscoring year with Argentina came in 2022 as he scored a total of 18 goals. Over his entire career for Argentina, Messi has 156 goal contributions – one more than eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Argentina’s No.10 overtook Ronaldo with a hat-trick and an assist in a 7-0 friendly rout of Curacao on Tuesday. He’s now scored 102 goals for his country, becoming only the third player in history – after Ronaldo and Iran legend Ali Daei – to reach a century of international goals.

“He is a football leader, you can see that, but when he speaks he says the right words,” Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni told Universo Valdano.

“And I’ve never seen what he transmits to his teammates, not only as a footballer. In any person. It’s difficult, I can talk about it, but people would have to experience what he transmits when he speaks.”

It will come as no surprise to learn that Ronaldo isn’t far behind with 155 goal contributions for Portugal. The 38-year-old is still going strong and recently scored four goals in Portugal’s Euro qualifiers, with braces against Liechtenstein and Luxembourg.

Portugal manager Roberto Martinez has reaffirmed Ronaldo’s importance to Portugal, even at 38.

“He [Ronaldo] is very important, he has a unique experience at an international level,” the manager told Record.

“For us, he is important because he is a reference in the locker room and he is prepared to lead [the team to Euro 2024] and be the captain of this selection.”

Elsewhere on the list, the likes of Neymar, Robert Lewandowski, Miroslav Klose and Luis Suarez have each got 100 or more goal contributions for their country.

Mohamed Salah is the highest-ranking African player on the list with a total of 80 goal contributions for Egypt. Didier Drogba also makes an appearance on the list with 72 goal contributions for Ivory Coast.

We have gathered the data and have listed the 20 players with the most goals and assists in international football since the year 2000.

Note: if players have the same number of goals and assists we have ranked them by their goal contribution ratio.

1. Lionel Messi – 156 G/A, 102 goals, 54 assists, 174 games
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – 155 G/A, 122 goals, 33 assists, 198 games
3. Neymar – 133 G/A, 77 goals, 56 assists, 124 games
4. Robert Lewandowski – 106 G/A, 78 goals, 28 assists, 138 games
5. Miroslav Klose – 101 G/A, 71 goals, 30 assists, 137 games
6. Luis Suarez – 100 G/A, 67 goals, 33 assists, 126 games
7. Alexis Sanchez – 87 G/A, 50 goals, 37 assists, 152 games
8. Edin Dzeko – 86 G/A, 64 goals, 22 assists, 126 games
9. Romelu Lukaku – 86 G/A, 72 goals, 14 assists, 106 games
10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 85 G/A, 62 goals, 23 assists, 121 games
11. Mohamed Salah – 80 G/A, 52 goals, 28 assists, 90 games
12. Lukas Podolski – 77 G/A, 49 goals, 28 assists, 130 games
13. Thomas Muller – 74 G/A, 44 goals, 30 assists, 121 games
14. Kevin De Bruyne – 74 G/A, 26 goals, 48 assists, 98 games
15. Landon Donovan – 74 G/A, 57 goals, 17 assists, 157 games
16. Clint Dempsey – 73 G/A, 57 goals, 16 assists, 141 games
17. David Villa – 72 G/A, 59 goals, 13 assists, 99 games
18. Didier Drogba – 72 G/A, 66 goals, 6 assists, 106 games
19. Edinson Cavani – 72 G/A, 61 goals, 11 assists, 136 games
20. Harry Kane – 71 G/A, 55 goals, 16 assists, 82 games

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