2020 was a surreal year ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought unique challenges to the top football leagues in the world.
Following a belated conclusion to the 2019-20 season, the top leagues had a shorter-than-usual off-season before the commencement of the ongoing campaign. That has meant that several top teams and players have looked off the pace.
However, despite the massive disruption to the football calendar brought about by the pandemic, a few players produced goal-rich years, helping their clubs reap rich dividends in the process.
Ten most prolific scorers in Europe's top 5 leagues in 2020
While many teams in the top five leagues have struggled to hit the ground running despite strong finishes in the previous season, the performances of a few players - especially up front - have belied that of their teams.
On that note, let us have a look at the ten most prolific scorers in the top-5 leagues during the last year.
#10 Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - 19 goals
Lionel Messi had a rare underwhelming year in 2020. This had a crippling effect on the fortunes of Barcelona, who endured their first trophy-less campaign in more than a decade and may struggle to finish in the top four in the Spanish league this season.
Messi scored only 12 league goals last season since the turn of the year. Despite a dip in his goal-scoring returns, the player broke Xavi's record of most assists in a La Liga campaign. However, Barcelona struggled to get going all year.
Messi, who netted only seven times in 14 games in the ongoing 2020-21 league season, will hope for a strong finish to the campaign in 2021 to bury the demons of a forgettable year.
#9 Francesco Caputo (Sassuolo) - 19 goals
After flourishing in Serie B for most of his career, 33-year-old Francesco Caputo hit the ground running on his return to the top tier in 2018, scoring 16 times for Sassuolo.
Caputo then followed up with an even impressive 2019-20 campaign, tallying 21 strikes - with 13 of them coming in 2020.
The 33-year-old striker has already racked up six goals in the 2020-21 edition of Serie A and has also tallied four assists along the way.
#8 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) - 19 goals
Kylian Mbappe is one of the most exciting young prospects in world football at the moment. However, 2020 was a bit of an underwhelming year for the French sensation, considering his exploits in the previous two years with club and country.
Nevertheless, the 22-year-old played his part in Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) continuing their domestic stranglehold and reaching their first Champions League final.
In a truncated 2019-20 Ligue 1 season, Mbappe scored seven league goals before tallying 12 in the current campaign, despite PSG's stuttering domestic fortunes that cost Thomas Tuchel his job.
#7 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan) - 20 goals
The 39-year-old Swedish striker scored ten league goals since the turn of the year to help Milan qualify for the Europa League.
However, Ibrahimovic has been on fire in the current campaign - scoring ten times in just six league games - to propel the Rossoneri to the top of the Serie A table. Only two players have ever scored more in their first eight league games in a season.
However, injuries have meant that Ibrahimovic is yet to feature in seven Italian top-flight games since scoring a brace against Napoli in November.