Almost every footballer worth their salt wishes to ply their trade in Europe. The continent houses the biggest teams and hosts the most-watched competitions, giving players the perfect platform to become household names.
However, making it big in Europe is easier said than done, especially in the top five leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1) on the continent. Only a chosen few are capable of thriving in those leagues, capable of forcing the world to sit up and take notice.
Below, we will take a look at five forwards who have done exceptionally well in Europe’s most sought-after divisions in recent years, helping their teams nick crucial wins.
Here are five players with the most goals in the top five European leagues since the turn of the decade.
Data via: Transfermarkt
#5 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain): 62 goals
Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe is arguably the best forward in the world right now.
The Frenchman has an abundance of pace, is a naturally gifted finisher, and likes to lead by example. Even with Lionel Messi and Neymar in the team, Mbappe is PSG’s best attacker, which is truly an imaginable feat.
France’s premier division, Ligue 1, may not be the most competitive out there, but there are some solid defensive units present. Mbappe, however, has paid them no mind, seamlessly finding his way past them.
The 23-year-old has scored 62 goals in 74 Ligue 1 matches since 2020, making him the most efficient goalscorer in the league since the turn of the decade.
The 2021-22 Ligue 1 campaign was particularly special for the 2018 World Cup winner, as he not only scored the most goals (28) but he also provided the most assists (19) en route to PSG’s title win. He is the only player to do the double in Ligue 1 history.
#4 Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund/Manchester City) - 62 goals
Erling Haaland joined Borussia Dortmund from Red Bull Salzburg in the 2019-20 winter transfer window. Between January 2020 and July 2022, Haaland was Dortmund’s undisputed talisman. The intimidating Norwegian chased after every ball, took the defenders out on a spin, and bagged goals left, right and centre.
Before leaving for Manchester City earlier this month, Haaland scored 62 Bundesliga goals for the BVB in 67 appearances, making him the second-most prolific forward in Germany in the last two-and-a-half years.
Haaland’s best league season for Borussia Dortmund came in the 2020-21 season. The Norway international scored 27 goals and provided eight assists in 28 Bundesliga games.
Premier League holders Manchester City have one of the best forwards in the world in Haaland. It will be interesting to see how well he fits into Pep Guardiola’s demanding system in the 2022-23 season.
#3 Ciro Immobile (Lazio) - 66 goals
Ciro Immobile is one of the most underrated forwards of his generation. The Italian ace may not be as flashy as some of his peers, but there are very few players who are as ruthless as him in front of goal.
Serie A outfit Lazio, who have had Immobile since July 2016, have built their team around him, allowing the 32-year-old to operate at his best.
Immobile has been a force to be reckoned with in Serie A and he is seemingly getting better with age.
Since 2020, the Italy international has scored 66 league goals in 87 appearances, emerging as the division’s leading scorer in the last two-and-a-half years.
Immobile enjoyed a stellar 2021-22 campaign, scoring 27 times and creating three more in 31 Serie A games.
#2 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) - 68 goals
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo hardly needs an introduction. He has been defying rules and acing hurdles for nearly two decades, and the 37-year-old may still have some gas left in the tank.
Despite being on the wrong side of 30, Ronaldo has performed admirably since 2020. Across the two leagues (Serie A and the Premier League), the Portuguese superstar has featured in 83 games, scoring 68 goals (18 for United and 50 for Juventus).
Although he has had many exceptional league campaigns over the course of his illustrious career, especially at Real Madrid, the 2021-22 season deserves a special mention.
Playing for a struggling Manchester United side, the five-time Champions League winner scored 18 league goals and provided three assists in 30 appearances.
He finished the campaign as the division’s third-highest scorer, behind Mohamed Salah and Heung-min Son (23 goals each).
Had it not been for exploits, the Red Devils would have had a hard time securing European football for the 2022-23 season by finishing fifth.
#1 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich / Barcelona) - 91 goals
Sitting at the top with a considerable lead over his peers, Robert Lewandowski has easily been the most formidable striker in Europe in recent years.
The Poland international, who signed for Barcelona from Bayern Munich this summer, was one of the biggest contributors to the Bavarians’ formidable Bundesliga streak between 2014 and 2022.
Scoring 238 goals in 245 appearances, he helped Bayern to eight consecutive Bundesliga titles.
Lewandowski has grown in stature with every passing day, emerging as the only player in the top-five European leagues with a goal per game ratio greater than one. Between 2020 and 2022, Lewandowski played 77 Bundesliga games for Bayern, netting a staggering 91 times.
With Lewandowski in their ranks, Barcelona should be able to fight on all fronts in the 2022-23 season.
It will be interesting to see how the 33-year-old adjusts to new surroundings at the Camp Nou.