Yes, you read that headline correctly: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have finished 2021 as top scorers for Barcelona and Juventus, respectively, despite the two superstars leaving LaLiga and Serie A in the summer.
Messi, 34, departed Camp Nou amid a veil of tears to sign for Paris Saint-Germain on Aug. 11, while the 36-year-old Ronaldo made his shock return to Manchester United three weeks later.
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The 2021-22 season has now reached its halfway point for Barca and Juve, but still neither player’s calendar-year goal tally was surpassed by any of their former teammates.
Messi scored 28 goals for Barca in 2021 before his contract expired, but no one even came remotely close to matching his haul by the end of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Sevilla, the final game of the year for both clubs (stream the replay on ESPN+ in the U.S.).
Ronaldo, meanwhile, scored 20 goals for Juve in all competitions during the latter half of the 2020-21 campaign before moving back to Old Trafford in the summer. His tally remained top of the chart for the Bianconeri following their 2-0 win over Cagliari on Tuesday, their last game before facing Napoli on Jan. 6.
It’s either a testament to the duo’s enduring brilliance — they are, after all, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 among the world’s top forwards in ESPN’s FC 100 for 2021 — or a damning indictment of the squads they left behind. Perhaps both.
Barcelona (108 goals in all competitions in 2021)
The Catalan giants scored a collective total of 108 goals in all competitions in 2021, with Messi scoring 28 of them before leaving for PSG in August. The rest of the Barca squad mustered 80 goals between them.
Messi scored almost double the number of goals as the next player on the list, Antoine Griezmann, who also left Camp Nou to return to Atletico Madrid on loan at the start of September.
28 goals: Lionel Messi
15: Antoine Griezmann
8: Memphis Depay
7: Frenkie de Jong
6: Ousmane Dembele
4: Ansu Fati, Jordi Alba, Martin Braithwaite
3: Gerard Pique, Ronald Araujo, Francisco Trincao
2: Pedri, Oscar Mingueza, Sergino Dest, Sergi Roberto, Philippe Coutinho, Nicolas Gonzalez, Own goal
1: Riqui Puig, Junior Firpo, Ilaix Moriba, Luuk de Jong, Sergio Aguero, Sergio Busquets, Abde Ezzalzouli, Ferran Jutgla, Gavi
Juventus (106 goals in all competitions in 2021)
Post-Ronaldo, Juve have struggled to keep pace in Serie A this season and are down in fifth place in the table having scored fewer goals than any other club in the top eight.
They have, however, managed to score 106 goals across all competitions this year, with 20 of those amassed by Ronaldo before he re-joined Manchester United at the end of August.
Juve have seen a few more players crack double-figures than Barca, but second-highest goal scorer Morata still failed to top the chart for this calendar year despite making 53 appearances for the club in 2021 to Ronaldo’s 31, as well as inheriting penalty-taking duties.
20: Cristiano Ronaldo
17: Alvaro Morata
15: Federico Chiesa
11: Paulo Dybala
6: Juan Cuadrado, Weston McKennie
5: Dejan Kulusevski
4: Adrien Rabiot, Moise Kean
3: Alex Sandro, Leonardo Bonucci
2: Aaron Ramsey, Matthijs de Ligt, Manuel Locatelli
1: Danilo, Hamza Rafia, Arthur, Gianluca Frabotta, Federico Bernardeschi, Own goal