Cristiano and Messi, out of this world, Zlatan, the best of the rest

After gathering data from the past five years from some of the most important names in European football with Kery Ruiz, I decided to write this blog post to share some of my findings. There are no huge surprises but some interesting data could be extracted from the numbers. 

In general, we found that the best strikers in the world average around a goal every one and a half games. There are two outliers, however, Messi and Ronaldo. The Argentinian genius has scored a goal every 83 minutes in the past five years – that means one per game roughly. The Real Madrid star was able to score in less time gaps, getting the ball to the back of the net every 79 minutes.

And this may not come as a surprise, but the third best scorer on average in the past five years is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The 34-year old Swedish forward has been considering himself as one of the top talents of all time and with good reason. With a goal every 1.31 games, he has the evidence to support his claims and he remains at this level even being the oldest player of the group that we analyzed.

Curiously, none of those three can be considered all and out strikers. Messi has operated as a right winger, a number 10 or a false 9, Ronaldo usually starts his runs down the wing and Zlatan is always paired with a traditional centerforward. Their extraordinary scoring rates are probably the indication that they are the best players of their generation and the only ones capable to compete with the historical greats.

After them, there is a group of talented number 9s. It might surprise some to find Robin van Persie (1.41) as the striker with the fourth best average but the rest are what anyone could expect: Robert Lewandowski (1.42), Sergio Agüero (1.42) Edinson Cavani (1.47), Karim Benzema (1.48), Radamel Falcao (1.52) and Luis Suárez (1.52)

As a side note, Chicharito Hernández, which was considered as a reliable substitute but not a regular starter in Real Madrid and Manchester United, has a scoring average of a goal every 1.52 games. As good as anyone in the top leagues of Europe.

And finally, comes the group of stars with a scoring average closer to one goal every two games. In this group we can find players like Mario Mandzukic (1.73), Álvaro Negredo (1.78), Edin Dzeko (1.79), Diego Costa (1.80) and Borussia Dortmund star, Marco Reus (2.0).

Sometimes the scoring streaks of players can be deceptive, as we tend to believe they move above from the pack, but as we can see, the average of the top scorers in the business is very similar. Except, of course, from the two biggest stars in world football right now and an old genius whose talent doesn’t seem to be fading with age.

You can check the full table here: