Top 5 highest-scoring duos in the 21st century

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are among the greatest footballers of all time
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are among the greatest footballers of all time
Vishal Subramanian

The modern era of the beautiful game has been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, with the two legendary attackers setting the standards with their unbelievable goalscoring exploits over the years. Both players are still going strong despite entering their 30s and have etched their names into the history books, as they look to finish their careers on a high.

While Cristiano Ronaldo is currently plying his trade with Juventus, Lionel Messi is Barcelona's captain and looks set to extend his contract with the Catalan giants after coming close to leaving the club last summer. When it comes to goalscoring numbers, the two players are virtually unbeatable and the underlying stats add value to such claims.

However, over the years, both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo got a lot of support from a handful of world-class players, indicating that it is important to have a supporting cast regardless of how talented the protagonist is.

On that note, here are the five highest-scoring duos in the 21st century ranked in the increasing order of total goals scored in a specific season.

Note: All stats were gathered from

#5 Lionel Messi (73) & Cesc Fabregas (15) | 88 goals, Barcelona 2011-12

Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga
Valencia CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

The 2011-12 season proved to be another trophy-laden one for Barcelona and Pep Guardiola, as the Catalan giants completed the domestic double. Unsurprisingly, Lionel Messi was in the thick of the action, as he scored a staggering 73 goals in all competitions for Barcelona.

The Argentine's partner in crime turned out to be new signing Cesc Fabregas, who returned to his boyhood after a sensational spell with Arsenal in the Premier League. The Spanish midfielder enjoyed a stunning return to the Camp Nou, as he scored 15 goals in his debut season at the club.

The pair combined for 88 goals, as Barcelona ended the season on a high by adding the Copa del Rey crown to their La Liga title triumph. It turned out to be Guardiola's last season at the club, as the Spanish tactician took over the reins at Bayern Munich a few months later.

#4 Lionel Messi (54) & Luis Suarez (36) | 90 goals, Barcelona 2016-17

FC Barcelona v Celta Vigo - La Liga
FC Barcelona v Celta Vigo - La Liga

The 2016-17 season led to another domestic double for Barcelona, this time under the leadership of Luis Enrique. The Spaniard completed a historic treble in his first season at the club and followed it up with two more successful campaigns, with Lionel Messi leading the charge yet again.

Luis Suarez, though, played a pivotal role that season, as the Uruguayan hitman was by far the most feared striker in the world at the time. He scored 36 times in all competitions in his third season at the Camp Nou, while Lionel Messi notched up a staggering 54 goals.

It proved to be Enrique's last season at the club, though, as the Spaniard left Barcelona after three fantastic seasons at the helm.

Also Read: 5 Premier League managers who could leave their clubs this summer

#3 Cristiano Ronaldo (60) & Karim Benzema (32) | 92 goals, Real Madrid 2011-12

Real Madrid vs Galatasaray - Santiago Bernabeu Trophy
Real Madrid vs Galatasaray - Santiago Bernabeu Trophy

In what proved to be a record-breaking season for Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho's side were rampant on their way to winning the La Liga title. The Portuguese tactician made Real Madrid extremely hard to beat, while they were devastating on the counter-attack with Cristiano Ronaldo as the focal point of the attack.

The former Manchester United man was joined by Karim Benzema upfront, as the pair combined to magnificent effect to score a staggering 90 goals between them. Real Madrid won the title by notching up 100 points, as they broke Barcelona's points record of 99 from the 2010-11 season.

Los Blancos also broke several other records in what proved to be a historic season, but they failed to make their dominance count in the UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey.

#2 Lionel Messi (58) & Neymar (39) | 97 goals, Barcelona 2014-15

FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad de Futbol - La Liga
FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad de Futbol - La Liga

At the start of the 2014-15 season, Barcelona made two important moves that went on to shape a new era at the club. The Catalan giants signed Liverpool striker Luis Suarez in a big-money deal, as the Uruguayan was earmarked as the chosen one to play alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Secondly, former club captain Luis Enrique was appointed as the club's manager, as he returned to the Camp Nou after a fruitful spell with Celta Vigo. His first season turned out to be an unwavering success, as Barcelona completed the treble by blowing teams out of the water.

Suarez's addition turned out to be a masterstroke, but it was Neymar who was Lionel Messi's partner in crime that season. The Brazilian superstar notched up 39 goals in all competitions, while Messi had his hand in 58. The trio were fondly referred to as MSN and are widely regarded as one of the greatest attacking triumvirates in football history.

#1 Luis Suarez (59) & Lionel Messi (41) | 100 goals, 2015-16 Barcelona

FC Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano de Madrid - La Liga
FC Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano de Madrid - La Liga

Luis Suarez's goalscoring record has always been unbelievably good, but the Uruguayan striker reached new heights in the 2015-16 season. With 59 goals to his name, he comfortably managed to outscore every player in world football, as he won the Pichichi and the European Golden Boot.

Lionel Messi, despite not enjoying his best season at the club, scored a cool 41 goals, as Barcelona completed yet another domestic double. They didn't reach the heights of their treble-winning season in 2014-15, but Enrique's side added two more pieces of silverware to their growing trophy cabinet.

With 100 goals, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored more goals between them that season than any other duo in the 21st century.

Also Read: 5 players who have been linked with summer moves to Real Madrid

Edited by Vishal Subramanian
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