Where do Messi, Luis Suárez and Cavani stand among the 21st Century’s top South American goal scorers?

The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) has published a list of South American goal scorers of the 21st century so far. Unsurprisingly Lionel Messi sits in pole position, way ahead of the rest. The Inter Miami forward has registered a total of 821 goals during the period from 1 January 2001 to the most recent date, 31 December 31 2023.

Behind Leo are two Uruguayan legends. In second place is his club team mate Luis Suárez with 557 goals, while third place is occupied by Edinson Cavani with 440 goals. Neymar and Sergio Kun Agüero complete the Top 5. As expected, Brazilian and Argentinean players dominate the top 20 positions. Surprisingly, just two Colombians are present in the ranking – Radamel Falcao and Dayro Moreno.

Falcao, who has been on the books at Spanish LaLiga side Rayo Vallecano since 2021, is the top-scoring Colombian player of all-time with 343 goals – 225 in domestic leagues, 23 in cup competitions and 59 in international tournaments. He also holds the national team record with 36 goals for La Tri. Moreno meanwhile is close to becoming the player with the most goals in the FPC (he is seven goals away from surpassing Sergio Galván Rey).

South American scorers of the 21st century

  1. Lionel Messi (Argentina) – 821
  2. Luis Suárez (Uruguay) – 557
  3. Edinson Cavani (Uruguay) – 440
  4. Neymar (Brazil) – 439
  5. Sergio Agüero (Argentina) – 426
  6. Fred (Brazil) – 404
  7. Ricardo Oliveira (Brazil) – 390
  8. Óscar Cardozo (Paraguay) – 376
  9. Gonzalo Higuaín (Argentina)- 366+
  10. Luis Fabiano (Brazil) – 355
  11. Hulk (Brazil) – 349
  12. Radamel Falcao (Colombia) – 343
  13. Vágner Love (Brazil) – 333
  14. Magno Alves (Brazil) – 238
  15. Dayro Moreno (Colombia) – 326

What records can Messi break in 2024?

A breakdown of Messi’s career goals shows that he will soon reach a few milestones. The Inter Miami ace is just three goals away from his 500th goal in domestic league competition (LaLiga and MLS) and three away from reaching the 150-goal mark in international club competitions. He has notched 71 goals in cup competitions and 106 at full international level with Argentina – a national team record, almost double the tally of Gabriel Batistuta in second place.

In the IFFHS ranking, only five players in the top 10 remain active – Messi, Luis Suárez, Cavani, Neymar and Óscar Cardozo. As crazy as it might seem, there are still a handful of record that Messi could break in 2024. He is currently on 13 goals in the Copa América – just two behind Lolo Fernández (Peru) and Severino Varela (Uruguay) and four behind the joint record holders: Norberto Méndez (Argentina) and Zizinho (Brazil), both on 17.

Leo could also become Inter Miami’s top scorer of all-time in just his second season. Gonzalo Higuaín holds the record with 29 goals. Also ahead of Messi, whose tally stands at 11 are Leonardo Campana with 23 and Josef Martínez on 12. So he needs just 18 goals in 2024 to pull level with El Pipito.


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