The all-time Champions League top scorers list reads as a who's who of the greatest strikers of all time.
We're talking old-school, too. This is a list that extends way beyond the star-ball branding that came in for the 1992/93 edition: this is the complete top 20 of those who plundered in the European Cup, too.
So who's made the list? Let's get stuck in…
All-time Champions League top scorers: 20. Edinson Cavani
🇺🇾 'El Matador' Edinson Cavani has now scored 3⃣5⃣0⃣ goals in his European club career 👏⚽️2⃣0⃣0⃣ Paris ⚽️1⃣0⃣4⃣ Napoli⚽️0⃣3⃣7⃣ Palermo ⚽️0⃣0⃣9⃣ Manchester United@ECavaniOfficial | #UCL pic.twitter.com/M6dtjzjQiFApril 16, 2021
Clubs: Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United
Goals to game ratio: 0.51
Cavani is yet to open his Champions League account for Manchester United, though he did net in 2021's Europa League final defeat.
The Uruguayan’s goals in Europe’s top competition mostly came in a PSG shirt, including six in the group stage alone in 2016/17, and he may have been able to climb higher up the list had he not waited so long for his Champions League bow.
=18: Mohamed Salah
Clubs: Basel, Roma, Liverpool
Goals to game ratio: 0.51
With 11 Champions League goals in his first season at Anfield – he scored another 32 in the Premier League, remember – Mohamed Salah helped to fire Liverpool towards their first Champions League final since 2007.
Ever since, the Egyptian King has been a thorn in the sides of European defenders, who find his twisting and turning just as hard to predict as those in the Prem at the weekend. His highlight, undoubtedly, was the penalty he dispatched in the 2019 final.
=18. Ferenc Puskas
Clubs: Budapest Honved, Real Madrid
Goals to game ratio: 0.88
Real Madrid and Hungary legend Puskas can point to a phenomenal 1959/60 campaign, where his 12 goals in seven games included a hat-trick in the first round and four in the final.
However, he’s also a rarity in having netted a hat-trick in a defeat, when Madrid came up short against Eusebio’s Benfica in the semi-final two years later.
=16. Sergio Aguero
👀 When Sergio Agüero scored a hat-trick against Gladbach in 2016...#UCLdraw | @aguerosergiokun pic.twitter.com/j6b5ONl7Q9December 14, 2020
Clubs: Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona
Goals to game ratio: 0.53
Aguero missed out on a European title in his final season in England, coming on as a late substitute in the final – and his best years at Manchester City involved Champions League disappointment.
The Argentine scored two hat-tricks in the 2016-17 campaign, his first under Pep Guardiola and unfortunately couldn't manage any more magic for Barcelona before his forced retirement in 2021.
Clubs: Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain
Goals to game ratio: 0.55
While Neymar has been unable to lead Paris Saint-Germain to a European title, he still has his victory with Barcelona in 2015 to fall back on, not to mention a better goalscoring ratio than Benzema and Raul to name but two. The Brazilian has yet to hit more than 6 in one European campaign for PSG, but the arrival of Lionel Messi in Paris could change that.
15. Alessandro Del Piero
19 seasons in Turin 💪Most appearances for club 👌All-time top scorer ⚽️Club legend ✔️🎉🎉🎉 Happy birthday, 1996 #UCL winner & Bianconeri hero Alessandro Del Piero! pic.twitter.com/wQjDCiNGjTNovember 9, 2018
Goals to game ratio: 0.47
Juve legend Del Piero scored European goals in 12 separate seasons, with the peak coming in 1997/98. The World Cup winner netted Juve’s first and last goal in that year’s competition, helping the Bianconeri reach the final with an enviable record of 10 goals in 10 games - including a decisive semi-final hat-trick against Monaco.
14. Didier Drogba
Clubs: Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasaray
Goals to game ratio: 0.48
Drogba didn’t just score a lot of goals – he scored big ones too.
The equalising goal and winning penalty in 2012 stand out above everything else, and a hat-trick for Marseille helped him announce himself in 2003, but Chelsea fans may also be inclined to wonder whether they might have finished as champions in 2008 without his red card in the final.
=12. Filippo Inzaghi
Happy Birthday to one of the finest finishers in UCL history, Pippo Inzaghi! 🙌#UCL pic.twitter.com/yrauG66zEzAugust 9, 2020
Clubs: Juventus, AC Milan
Goals to game ratio: 0.57
The poacher’s poacher, Inzaghi was an asset to both of his clubs in Europe and played his part in two title wins in the red and black of Milan. There were fewer players you’d rather see the ball drop to in the six-yard box, and the Italy international’s goal return - highlighted by a match-winning display in the 2007 final - is testament to that.
Goals to game ratio: 0.71
The old European Cup format meant there were fewer unimportant games, and Eusebio’s first season in the competition saw him score a decisive double in the final. He also netted in every round besides the final in 1967/68, when Benfica got within one game of being crowned champions of Europe for a second time in his spell.
=10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
⚽️ One of the most feared strikers of his generation...🤩 Where has Zlatan Ibrahimović played his best football?#UCL | @Ibra_official pic.twitter.com/Utluzp29qyJune 25, 2020
Clubs: Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United
Goals to game ratio: 0.40
When Ibrahimovic next takes to the pitch for a Champions League game, more than 20 years will have passed since his bow in the competition for Ajax against a Celtic side managed by Martin O’Neill.
Man Utd are the only team for whom he played in the competition without scoring (albeit just for 16 minutes), while a high point came in 2013/14 when he scored at a rate of better than a goal per game for PSG.
=10. Andriy Shevchenko
Clubs: Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, Chelsea
Goals to game ratio: 0.48
While Chelsea fans won’t have especially great memories of Shevchenko in front of goal, the same can’t be said for supporters in Ukraine and Italy.
One Champions League title could have been two were it not for some Jerzy Dudek heroics in 2005, and he was the star of a Dynamo side which came perilously close to making the 1999 final.
9. Alfredo di Stefano
Clubs: Real Madrid
Goals to game ratio: 0.84
A legend of the early European Cup years, Di Stéfano has the third-best goals to game ratio of anyone on this list. His 49 goals included plenty of very important ones as Real Madrid dominated on the continent, including a winning goal in the 1957 final and a hat-trick as Los Blancos beat Eintracht Frankfurt to lift the trophy in 1960.
8. Thierry Henry
😎 Thierry Henry. Unplayable. #UCL | @ThierryHenry pic.twitter.com/tC4FyDbIlBMay 11, 2020
Clubs: Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona
Goals to game ratio: 0.45
Despite scoring freely domestically, Henry’s European exploits were more spread out, never resulting in more than seven goals in a single Champions League season.
Looking back on his career, he might feel as though a single European trophy is less than he warranted, though he’ll always have that performance for Arsenal at the San Siro.
7. Thomas Muller
First-time shot ✅Outside of the foot ✅⚽️ Thomas Müller ⚽️#UCL | @esmuellert_ | @FCBayern pic.twitter.com/9k7029hykHMarch 24, 2020
Clubs: Bayern Munich
Goals to game ratio: 0.39
Muller’s tally isn’t too shabby for a man who hasn’t spent his entire career as a striker, and more than a decade has passed since he opened his European account in a last-16 win over Sporting.
He has notably netted semi-final goals in two separate runs to glory, as well as scoring in the 2012 final as Bayern lost to Chelsea on penalties.
6. Ruud van Nistelrooy
Clubs: PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Real Madrid
Goals to game ratio: 0.77
One of the best finishers of his generation, Van Nistelrooy didn’t let at least one serious injury get in the way of a phenomenal record in front of goal. The Dutchman is the highest-placed member of this list not to win the competition, and indeed he only once made it further than the quarter-final stage for any of his clubs.
🎁 7⃣ 🎁 ℹ️ Real Madrid number 7 Raúl González became the first player to find the net in two UEFA Champions League finals (2000 & 2002). #UCLadvent 🎄 pic.twitter.com/iva3GyYll9December 7, 2018
Clubs: Real Madrid, Schalke
Goals to game ratio: 0.50
There was a period when it looked unlikely anyone would overtake Raul’s tally, with the Spaniard peaking in 1999/2000 when he finished as joint-top scorer in the competition with 10 goals.
His final strike in the competition came in Schalke colours, in a surprise knockout win over Inter Milan, before he ended his career away from Europe.
=3. Karim Benzema
🎂🎉 Karim Benzema 🎉🎂Fourth-highest scorer in #UCL history 👏 200+ goals for Real Madrid in all comps 💪 pic.twitter.com/ZVaRDTmEgoDecember 19, 2018
Clubs: Lyon, Real Madrid
Goals to game ratio: 0.61
Benzema was still a few days shy of his 18th birthday when he scored for Lyon against Rosenborg in the 2005/06 group stage, and his most recent goal in the competition - for Real Madrid against Chelsea - came at the age of 33. That’s longevity for you, and the Frenchman will feel confident of adding to his tally.
=3. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski scored FOUR goals as Dortmund beat Madrid 4-1 #OTD in 2013 🔥🔥🔥#UCL pic.twitter.com/yefP4d0HACApril 24, 2021
Clubs: Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich
Goals to game ratio: 0.81
Lewandowski’s star turn came against Real Madrid in 2013, when he scored all four for Dortmund in a semi-final victory. The Polish striker had to wait until he was 23 to even play in the Champions League for the first time, and one wonders how many more goals he might have been able to score with an earlier start.
Lewy's quick hat-trick against Red Bull Salzburg in the last-16 in 2022 confirmed him as the best striker of goals per appearance since 1992.
2. Lionel Messi
🙌 Messi fired FOUR past Arsenal #OnThisDay in 2010! ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️#UCL pic.twitter.com/7qm4ypTcqfApril 6, 2019
Clubs: Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain
Goals to game ratio: 0.8
Messi has fewer Champions League goals than Ronaldo, but no player from the post-1992 era had a better goals-to-game ratio than the Argentine until Lewandowski overtook him this season.
A four-goal performance against Arsenal in 2010 and five of the seven which Barca scored against Bayer Leverkusen two years later are just a couple of the memorable European nights he enjoyed at Camp Nou.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
🔴 Your favourite Cristiano Ronaldo goal for Manchester United❓@Cristiano | @ManUtd | #UCL pic.twitter.com/LVu83nKqcGAugust 27, 2021
Clubs: Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus
Goals to game ratio: 0.77
It’s odd to think it took Ronaldo until his third United season to score in the Champions League, netting in the play-off win over Debrecen, but it was in Madrid where he really thrived.
A personal high-point came in the 2016/17 season, when he scored hat-tricks for Real Madrid in the quarter-final and semi-final en route to lifting the trophy. He's still tucking them away for the Red Devils in his second spell.
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