All the major leagues in Europe have concluded their business, so we decided to check if there was anyone alive good enough to tickle the scoring heroics of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, racing through the record books for another season. These are the best the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A and French Ligue 1 had to offer.
Eden Hazard, Lille – 20 Goals
The 21-year old Belgian star announced earlier this season that his time at Lille and the French Ligue 1 is over, with a Premier League club being his next destination. Hazard had a wonderful season for Lille, scoring a career high 20 goals, leading the club to another Champions League worthy finish. He is one of seven players through the season in France to score a hat trick. He also won the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year award.
21 Goals – Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Nene (PSG), Olivier Giroud (Montpellier)
Karim Benzema‘s 21 goals were only enough for fifth in the La Liga and third on Real Madrid’s scoring charts, but he probably came out as the big winner for the team, winning a spot over Gonzalo Higuain in the starting lineup. It was the best season of his career in terms of goals, surpassing his Lyon days.
Anderson Luiz de Carvalho (Nene) had a hard time earlier this season, adjusting to the new situation in which he was no longer the star of PSG, with the arrival of Pastore and Menez, but he grew into his new role with the team and finished as joint top scorer of the French League, alongside Olivier Giroud.
Giroud, like Hazard, has probably begun saying his goodbyes to Montpellier teammates. Just like his club, his success this year came out of nowhere, and it’ll probably lead him to a bigger club, with Bayern being suggested as the top pursuers.
22 Goals – Robert Lewandowski (Dortmund), Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid)
We might get a chance to see this summer and next season if Robert Lewandowski is really that talented of a striker, improving his tally by 14 goals in his second Dortmund season, or is it just a case of being in the right system. He’ll try and prove his worth with Poland this summer and maybe with a different club (Manchester United?) next season.
Gonzalo Higuain, like many others on this list, may be looking for a new club this summer. Scoring 22 goals this season and 91 in 162 matches for Real Madrid since his arrival haven’t been satisfying for the Argentinian, who felt he didn’t get enough time on the pitch this season, falling behind Karim Benzema in the hierarchy.
23 Goals – Kun Aguero (Manchester City), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Edinson Cavani (Napoli)
Sergio Aguero had no trouble adjusting to the differences in the Premier League, scoring 23 goals in 34 matches, non more important than his 94th minute strike against QPR, giving Manchester City their first league title since 1968.
Di Natale is an impossible phenomenon to explain, but I guess the wine parallel is probably the best way to do it. He’s been on fire these past three seasons, scoring 80 league goals in 107 matches, securing a Champions League berth for Udinese.
Edinson Cavani proved all the doubters wrong by avoiding the second season syndrome, making it 49 goals for him in his two-year Napoli career. No Champions League next year for the Uruguayan striker if he remains in South Italy, but it’s going to take a hefty price to lure him away.
24 Goals – Diego Milito (Inter), Falcao (Atletico Madrid)
Milito seemed like a done player, suffering like the entire team from the post-Mourinho effect. But just like Samuel Eto’o last season, he thrived under the turmoil and problems, equaling his best scoring season for 2008-2009 when he played for Genoa.
Radamel Falcao probably impressed more people by winning his second consecutive Europa League title, adding a brace in the final, but his league output was just as good, leading Atletico to a fifth place finish in the La Liga.
Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich) – 26 Goals
Mario Gomez has an incredible scoring record these past two seasons with Bayern, netting 54 goals in 65 league matches. But he’s also one of the greatest $%^& ups in front of the net, considering all the chances he gets and creates each match.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) – 27 Goals
Quietly, quietly, Rooney almost snagged the golden boot away from Van Persie, finishing with his best scoring tally since, well, forever. Maybe it was Manchester United’s unimpressive way of winning this season that kept Rooney’s goal record under the radar.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan) – 28 Goals
Zlatan Ibrahimovic took AC Milan on his back yet again, but it wasn’t enough for his ninth consecutive league title. He had to settle for his second Serie A top scorer award.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), 29 Goals
Schalke didn’t make it through the long race for the title yet again, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had somewhat of a breakthrough season, showing he hasn’t forgotten about scoring goals, netting 29 goals, his best tally since his Ajax days.
Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) – 30 Goals
Robin Van Persie was already on a tear last season, but he played during half of it. This year, he had an entire season to go through the roller coaster Arsenal ride, being the club’s only reliable attack while picking up both player of the year honors from the players and journalists.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 46 Goals
Incredible. Ronaldo improved his own record from last season, which was enough to lead all goalscorers in Europe, by six goals. But in a crazy arms race like the one he and the tiny guy from Barcelona have, even 46 isn’t enough to capture the Pichichi.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 50 Goals
All about records this year. Well, Barcelona were all about Messi this year as well. But again, this was about records – A new record for goals in the Spanish league; A new record for goals in a single European season; A new Champions League record for goals in a campaign and in one match.