Messi, Ronaldo & the Top 20 scorers of 2017

On Tuesday, the 2017 Goal 50 will be unveiled, our annual list of the 50 best players in the world.

Cristiano Ronaldo claimed last year’s prize and is in contention to retain his crown after firing Real Madrid to a Liga and Champions League double last season.

The forward’s goals also played a key role in Portugal’s qualification for next summer’s World Cup in Russia but how many did he actually net in 2017? Interestingly, not as many as Lionel Messi or Robert Lewandowski.

Indeed, Barcelona and Argentina ace Messi has scored more than any other player this year, 51 for club and country combined, to be precise – and in just 56 games to boot.

Messi 15/4 to be CL top scorer

No. Player Total Games Total Goals
1 Lionel Messi 56 51
2 Robert Lewandowski 46 47
3 Harry Kane 42 45
4 Cristiano Ronaldo 51 45
5 Edinson Cavani 51 44
6 Dragan Boskovic 37 41
7 Jaja Coelho 49 38
8 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 45 37
9 Ciro Immobile 47 37
10 Bas Dost 43 35
11 Romelu Lukaku 45 35
12 Edin Dzeko 47 34
13 Dries Mertens 51 33
14 Radamel Falcao 43 32
15 Jonas 40 31
16 Vincent Aboubakar 57 31
17 Albert Prosa 39 30
18 Eran Zahavi 35 28
19 Sergio Aguero 40 28
20 Alexandre Lacazette 42 28

Lewandowski racked up 47 goals in just 46 appearances for Bayern and Poland, meaning he averaged more than a goal a game in 2017.

However, the best goals-to-games ratio among our top 20 belongs to the man in third place, Tottenham and England hero Harry Kane, who struck 45 times in only 42 outings.

Ronaldo bagged as many goals as the 24-year-old but in nine games more and his inferior average means the Portuguese has to settle for fourth spot.

Lionel Messi Barcelona

Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich

Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Real Madrid v Tottenham

Elsewhere, Edinson Cavani ranks fifth, with 44 goals in 51 matches, which only serves to illustrate that the PSG and Uruguay striker really is in the form of his life.

Sixth and seventh place are occupied by two players probably unfamiliar to most readers, Dragan Boskovic and Jaja Coelho, both of whom have scored freely for Bangkok United and Buriram United this year.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang takes eighth spot, which only makes it all the more mystifying that not one of Europe’s elite made a summer swoop for the prolific Gabon international once it became clear that Borussia Dortmund were willing to sell.

Lazio striker Ciro Immobile and Sporting hotshot Bas Dost round off the top 10, with both presently enjoying the most prolific periods of their careers.

Elsewhere, Belgium duo Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens are 11th and 13th, respectively, which is a particularly impressive achievement by the latter, given he was only converted into a striker a year ago.

Meanwhile, the resurgent Radamel Falcao ranks 14th but there is no room in the top 20 for the world’s most expensive player, Neymar, who was pipped to the final spot on our list by Alexandre Lacazette.

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The Brazilian scored as many goals as the Frenchman but in more games, so the PSG ace misses out. Will Neymar feature in the Goal 50, though? Find out on Tuesday, when the full list is revealed at 1200 BST!

The Goal 50 is an annual award that both recognises and ranks the world’s 50 best footballers of the preceding 12 months. Chief editors and correspondents from Goal’s 37 editions around the world all cast their votes, with candidates judged on their level of consistency over the previous year of action, their big-game performances, footballing legacy and the success of their teams at both club and international level.

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Chelsea in for scary Halloween with Dzeko in best form of his career

The morning after Edin Dzeko had become Roma’s newest centurion, he was hailed by both Tuttosport and the Corriere dello Sport as the new king of the Eternal City.

It caps a remarkable rise for a striker once cruelly referred to as ‘Edin Cieco’ (‘Blind Edin’) by bemused supporters during a debut season at the Stadio Olimpico blighted by horrendous misses.

Dzeko first goal 7/2 with dabble

“I am personally proud to reach 100 appearances in a Roma jersey and, after my first year, nobody thought that was possible,” he acknowledged after Roma’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on October 18.

Indeed, many pundits felt that Roma had been ripped off – despite only paying Manchester City a grand total of €15 million for Dzeko in 2015.

The Bosnian contrived to squander one open goal after another during his first season in Serie A – there was one miss against Palermo that Dzeko himself says was inexplicable – and he ended the campaign having netted just eight times in 31 outings.

A move to Galatasaray was rumoured but Dzeko was not about to give up. He refused to walk away.

Edin Dzeko Roma PS

“Rome is similar to Bosnia,” he told Il Messaggero in January. “The people don’t just criticise you, they insult you. So, I’m used to it.

“I did think about leaving because you do when you don’t play… but I decided to stay and I was convinced of that, even after the final game of the season, against Chievo.

“I didn’t play but I said to myself, ‘I’m not leaving here.’ “And that was my decision; no one asked me to stay. I saw it as a challenge to win.

“I went on holiday, I switched off and I started over.”

Indeed, Dzeko impressed Luciano Spalletti with his determined attitude and prolific performances in friendlies ahead of the 2016-17 season.

He saw a difference in Dzeko and he gave him all of the encouragement in the world in order to convince the forward that he could win over the notoriously demanding Roma fans.

“I told him that I had confidence in him and even flattered him a bit, as that’s necessary too sometimes,” the former Giallorossi coach explained in April.

“Dzeko has now started believing he’s a top striker. He can feel the confidence of the club and his team-mates, who have improved with him and in turn fuelled his confidence.

“Edinh had to suffer the judgements made about him last year but he’s a smashing lad, loves the dressing room banter and trains well.

“He’s humble and polite. He just needed to discover his form.”

Luciano Spalletti Edin Dzeko Roma PS

He did exactly that, equalling the club record for goals in a solitary Serie A season – set by Rodolfo Volk in 1930-31 – by striking 29 times to claim the 2016-17 Capocannoniere award. Indeed, since the start of last season, he has scored as many goals as Cristiano Ronaldo (49) and, across Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues, only Lionel Messi (70) and Edinson Cavani (58).

Spaletti’s summer departure for Inter, coupled with the sale of Roma’s creative fulcrum Mohamed Salah to Liverpool, seemed to spell trouble for Dzeko, who took a thinly veiled swipe at the tactics employed by new coach Eusebio Di Francesco after being left isolated during a dour 0-0 draw at home to Atletico Madrid in September.

“I scored many goals last season,” he mused, “but this year it’s tougher and I didn’t touch the ball many times tonight.” However, Di Francesco promptly “cleared the air” with his No.9, coinciding with Dezko rediscovering his very best form.

Big Five Leagues Top Scorers PS

There were six goals in his next four Serie A matches, as Roma forced their way back into the title race, while he struck three times in his next two Champions League appearances, against Qarabag and Chelsea, to propel the Giallorossi into second place in Group C.

It was the opening goal in the brilliant brace at the Bridge that really stood out, with his first-time volley evoking memories of Andriy Shevchenko – whom Dzeko idolised as a child in Sarajevo. Ahead of the return match versus Chelsea  on the night of Halloween on Tuesday, Dzeko is again expected to give Antonio Conte’s men a big fright.

The striker feels that in his two years in Italy he’s learned more about the game, and himself, than he did during his previous eight, in England and Germany.

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Dzeko is now 31 but is playing better than ever before, as underlined by his Ballon d’Or nomination. “I don’t feel old,” he has said. “I want to keep playing regularly and at a high level.”

It’s taken him a long time to get to this stage and it’s never been easy, so he’s determined to enjoy it for as long as possible.

In short, the King of Rome is not about to give up his throne any time soon.

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Dzeko volley named UEFA Champions League Goal Of The Week, presented by Nissan!

Edin Dzeko’s stunning volley versus Cheslea has been named UEFA Champions League Goal of the Week, presented by Nissan!

The Roma man struck in his side’s exhilarating 3-3 draw with Chelsea on Matchday Three.

Dzeko beat out competition from the likes of David Luiz, who lashed home a fine curling finish in the same game, and from Bosnia and Herzegovina team-mate Miralem Pjanic, who hit a fine free-kick in Juventus’ 2-1 defeat of Sporting.

Spartak Moscow’s Denis Glushakov also earned a nomination with a wonderfully-controlled volley of his own in a 5-1 thrashing of Sevilla.

Basel’s Taulant Xhaka rounded out the nominees with a fine run and smart finish that helped secure the Swiss side a comfortable victory at CSKA Moscow.

Click here to watch the UEFA Champions League Goal of the Week, presented by Nissan!

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Fantasy Football: Salah and Dzeko lead the Goal Champions League Team of the Week

Round three of Champions League action is in the books and now everyone has played every team in their group once. Liverpool were this week’s big winners with their dominant 7-0 win against Maribor, a performance which placed four of their players in our Goal Team of the Week. You should definitely consider adding as many Liverpool players to your team as possible with the reverse match at Anfield coming up next.

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GK: Alphonse Areola – PSG – 1 Game, 6 Saves, 1 Clean Sheet = 10 Points

DF: Taulant Xhaka – Basel – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 1 Clean Sheet = 17 Points

Typically Taulant is the lesser known of the Xhaka brothers but, as the only one in the Champions League, is the only important one for this format. He contributed towards both of Basel’s goals in their 2-0 win against CSKA moving them up into second in Group A. Xhaka is not top five in either goals or assists in the Swiss Super League so this is likely just a one off, but what a one off it was!

DF: Mats Hummels – Bayern Munich – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

DF: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goal, 1 Clean Sheet = 14 Points

Mohamed Salah

MF: Mohamed Salah – Liverpool – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 17 Points

Salah is having a ridiculous season both domestically and in Europe, sitting in a top three spot in both for goals by midfielders. This performance obviously came against a lesser opponent but they will turn around and do it again in their next Champions League match as well, so the Egypt international should be considered a wise investment.

MF: Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool – 1 Game, 1 Goals, 2 Assists = 14 Points

MF: Eden Hazard – Chelsea – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

MF: Bernard – Shakhtar Donetsk – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 14 Points

Once a highly sought after prospect, Bernard has been quietly working away out in Ukraine for the past few seasons. He had the highest key passes rate (per 90 mins) in his domestic league last season and should, in theory, be picking up more assists in both competitions. The next match against Feyenoord should be a great chance for Bernard to show what he can do as the Dutch side sit last in Group F conceding an average of three goals per match.

Quincy Promes Spartak Moscow

FWD: Quincy Promes – Spartak Moscow – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 2 Assists = 18 Points

FWD: Roberto Firmino – Liverpool – 1 Game, 2 Goals, 1 Assist = 15 Points

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FWD: Edin Dzeko – Roma – 1 Game, 2 Goals = 12 Points

The former Manchester City man had a terrific season last year for Roma, leading Serie A in goals with 29. He’s continued that form into this campaign sitting top five in Italy, and has now scored three times in his last two Champions League matches. The two he netted against Chelsea were terrific and he’ll be hoping to repeat the feat against the reigning Premier League champions next time out.

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Arsenal can now kiss goodbye to conquering Europe and Champions League winners & losers

Edin Dzeko netted his first ever goals against Chelsea, while the struggles of Dortmund, Atletico and Napoli are bad news for Arsenal


WINNER: EDIN DZEKO


Edin Dzeko Roma Chelsea

“When I was at Manchester City,” Edin Dzeko mused after Roma’s 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, “I never scored against Chelsea, but I made up for that tonight.” And how!

Dzeko struck twice in what was his 10th outing against the Blues, levelling the game with a thumping, first-time volley from a wonderful pass from deep from Federico Fazio before then heading the visitors into a 3-2 lead.

Eden Hazard salvaged a barely deserved draw for Chelsea, who looked like the away side all evening, with just 40 per cent of the ball, and the man of the match award went to the brilliant Belgian. But the night still belonged to Roma’s No.9, who was proclaimed “King Dzeko” by both Tuttosport and the Corriere dello Sport on Thursday morning.

At 31, he is in the best form his career, as underlined by his recent nomination for this year’s Ballon d’Or.

Dzeko’s double in west London has taken his Roma goals tally to 59 in just 100 games, a record made all the more remarkable given he struggled in his first season after moving to the Stadio Olimpico from Manchester City in the summer of 2015, scoring just 10 times in his first 39 appearances for the Giallorossi.

That makes it 49 goals in his past 61 appearances, which underlines just why Francesco Totti saw so little game time before his retirement.

The King is dead, Long live the King!

Mark Doyle


WINNER: CENK TOSUN


Cenk Tosun Besiktas Monaco

Cenk Tosun told Goal in September, “The best feeling in the world is when you see the ball hit the net. If you’re a striker, you step on the field to taste that feeling.” The Besiktas forward has certainly developed an insatiable appetite for Champions League goals over the past year.

Tosun won the tournament’s goal of the season award for his sensational scissor-kick against Benfica last November, while he kicked off the current competition by bagging the best goal of Matchday 1 – a thunderous strike from distance in a surprise 3-1 victory at Porto.

The Turkey international netted again on Tuesday, twice in fact, to earn Besiktas an impressive come-from-behind win at Monaco that means his side have a maximum nine points after three rounds of action.

“I keep training hard, both with the team and after the sessions,” the in-form Tosun said after the win at the Stade Louis II. “I want to improve what I have been doing wrong and what I could do better.”

Having been expected to finish bottom of a competitive, well-balanced group that also features RB Leipzig, Besiktas have now won three Champions League group games on the bounce for the first time in their history to leave them just one win away from a maiden appearance in the knockout stage.

Tonsun will be key to their hopes of progression because while Pepe, Ryan Babel, Alvaro Negredo and Ricardo Quaresma may be the most famous names in Senol Gunes’ squad, it is the humble but hungry centre-forward who adds real bite to the Besiktas attack.

Mark Doyle


LOSERS: BORUSSIA DORTMUND


Christian Pulisic Borussia Dortmund

It’s not been a great few days for Borussia Dortmund boss Peter Bosz. After watching his side’s unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season come to an end at home to RB Leipzig on Saturday, the Dutchman then had to endure a dismal 1-1 draw at APOEL on Tuesday that has left BVB’s Champions League hopes in tatters.

Indeed, further bad news had arrived at full-time, when Bosz was informed moments before his post-match interview that the other game in Group H, between Real Madrid and Tottenham, had also finished level. “That 1-1 draw in Spain isn’t good for us either,” he lamented. “It wouldn’t have been good even if we’d won here.”

He wasn’t wrong there: BVB’s failure to win in Cyprus leaves them needing a minor miracle to qualify for the last 16. As it stands, Dortmund sit third in Group H, six points behind both Spurs and Madrid. The Bundesliga leaders should at least defeat APOEL at home to boost their qualification hopes but even then, they would still need to defeat Tottenham at home at Real in the Bernabeu just to have a chance of progressing.

In reality, BVB are already out and, in truth, only have themselves to blame after managing just one goal, and four shots on target (the same number as APOEL), in a game in which they had 72.6 per cent possession. Admittedly, they came close to nicking a late winner, with both Shinji Kagawa and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang striking the woodwork in the dying minutes.

However, even a bemused Bosz admitted that his side did not warrant all three points: “We actually got weaker the longer the game went on.” He will now be hoping Dortmund’s season doesn’t follow a similar course.

Mark Doyle


LOSERS: ATLETICO MADRID


Antoine Griezmann Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid have been Champions League finalists in two of the last four seasons but based on this week’s evidence, they will be lucky to even escape the group stage this time around. Wednesday’s goalless draw in Qarabag serves as the worst result of Diego Simeone’s brilliant reign at Atletico.

Their rookie opponents had never even gained a point in the Champions League in their history and had been humiliated 6-0 by Chelsea on matchday one.

But Atletico were slow and predictable throughout the match and barely created a single chance in the second half, even when the Azerbaijanis were reduced to 10 men with 15 minutes to go. In fact, Qarabag even threatened to score on the counter-attack on a number of occasions.

Most worrying of all, though, Atletico now find themselves with a lot of work to do to qualify. With just two points from three games, they find themselves six points behind leaders Chelsea and three points shy of second-placed Roma.

Carlo Garganese


LOSER: ARSENE WENGER


Arsenal Arsene Wenger

Arsenal’s diastrous failure to qualify for this season’s Champions League did have one silver lining: the opportunity for Arsene Wenger to win the first European trophy of his career and a first for Arsenal since their Cup Winners’ Cup win over Parma in 1994.

When the draw for the Europa League group stages was made, there were few teams who would have frightened Wenger. Indeed, their strongest rivals right now are Roberto Mancini’s Zenit St Petersburg, crisis-hit AC Milan and the likes of Villarreal, Lazio and Marseille.

However, this week’s Champions League results mean that the knockout phase of the Europa League is going to get a whole lot tougher for Arsenal because it’s not only the aforementioned Atletico and Dortmund who are struggling.

Serial Europa League winners Sevilla slipped from top to third in Group E after a shocking 5-1 loss at Spartak Moscow, while even an excellent Napoli side are now third-favourites to make it out of Group F after losing two of their opening three fixtures.

Should Sevilla, Atletico and the league leaders in both Germany and Italy drop down into the Europa League, it could end Arsenal’s chances of salvaging anything from what could be another miserable season in north London.

Carlo Garganese

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