Without a doubt, the best goalscorer in the World Cup history is Miroslav Klose. However, in this post, I’ll focus on the best goalscorers participating in the 2022 World Cup. So, when I say World Cup top scorers, I don’t mean overall in the history of just the World Cup, but in general.
I’ll write about the players that are most likely to be among the best FIFA World Cup players this year.
World Cup Overview
FIFA World Cup is the most important sporting competition in the world, along with the Olympics. It happens once every four years, which adds to its excitement and importance. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the last time 32 teams will participate. This format started in 1998, and FIFA expanded it to 48 teams for the 2026 World Cup in North America.
Also, the Qatar World Cup will be the first tournament held during the winter months. That also means that, for the vast majority of players, the World Cup will be played in the middle of the club season. So, we’ll see the effects of this change for the first time.
World Cup Schedule:
- November 21: Opening Ceremony, Group A Opener (Qatar)
- December 2: Final Group Games
- December 3-6: Round of 16
- December 9-10: Quarterfinals
- December 13-14: Semifinals
- December 17: Third-Place Match
- December 18: Final
Brazil leads all nations with five World Cup titles, and right behind them are Germany and Italy with four, but only Germany will have a chance in Qatar to tie for first place. The winner of the first World Cup, Uruguay, shares 3rd place with France and Argentina, each having won two times. Lastly, England and Spain each won once.
The best goalscorer in the history of the World Cup is Miroslav Klose, with 16 goals, and he participated four times. However, when we speak about the best goalscorer in a single tournament, that title goes to Just Fontaine, who scored 13 goals for France in 1958.
Who Is the Top World Cup Scorer?
Germany’s Miroslav Klose participated in four World Cups between 2002 and 2014, scoring 16 goals in total. He debuted in Japan and South Korea when he scored five goals en route to the final game, where Germany lost to Brazil, led by the leading scorer of that tournament, Ronaldo, who scored eight goals.
In 2006, he again scored five whilst playing on the home field, and Germany finished in 3rd place. In South Africa in 2010, Klose and his team again finished 3rd, and one of the best World Cup soccer players scored four goals this time.
In his final appearance in 2014 in Brazil, Germany finally won their 4th title. The veteran striker contributed with two goals, his last being in a legendary semifinal game against Brazil that Germany won 7-1.
Who Is the Oldest Goalscorer in a World Cup?
Roge Milla is the World Cup’s oldest goalscorer at 42 years and 39 days. He set a new record when he scored against Russia in the 1994 World Cup, breaking his own record set in 1990.
Also, in 1994, Milla was the oldest player to play in the tournament until Colombian goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon broke that record in 2014 (later broken again by Essam El Hadary). Milla is one of the Cameroon legends, having scored 43 goals in 77 matches for the national team.
Who Is the Youngest Goalscorer in a World Cup?
The youngest goalscorer was also one of the best players in the history of the sport – the legendary Pele. In 1958 in Sweden, Pele scored six goals in four games, the first being at the age of 17 and 239 days. The legend helped Brazil win three of their five World Cups in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
To this day, he is Brazil’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 77 goals in 92 games. Pele broke the record set at the first World Cup in 1930 when Manuel Rosas scored for Mexico at the age of 18 years and 93 days. He is also among the World Cup’s top scorers, with 12 goals in 14 matches.
Possible World Cup Top Scorers (2022)
|1. Cristiano Ronaldo||Portugal||Manchester Utd||117||42|
|2. Lionel Messi||Argentina||PSG||86||51|
|3. Robert Lewandowski||Poland||Barcelona||76||28|
|4. Thomas Müller||Germany||Bayern Munich||44||40|
|5. Kylian Mbappé||France||PSG||27||21|
Number 1 on the all-time list is the Portuguese menace, Cristiano Ronaldo. For his national team, Ronaldo played a record 189 times and scored 117 goals>/strong>, and he is the second player to surpass 100 goals, after Iranian Ali Daei. In the past, Ronaldo competed at four World Cups, and after 4th place in 2006, he didn’t reach the quarterfinals stage.
Like his biggest rival, Lionel Messi, the Qatar World Cup is likely his last chance to win the most crucial football tournament and bring the first World Cup trophy to Portugal.
He currently holds the 30th position with seven goals in 17 matches, but if he repeats his success from Russia, when he scored four goals, he can climb to 6th position and achieve a tie with World Cup legends Sándor Kocsis and Jürgen Klinsmann.
Lionel Messi won the Golden Ball in 2014, which is the award for the best player in the World Cup. He will probably have his last chance in Qatar to bring new glory to Argentina and match the success of his idol Diego Armando Maradona.
So far, Messi has scored six World Cup goals in 19 matches. With his first one, against Serbia and Montenegro in 2006, Messi became the 6th youngest World Cup goal scorer, one week before his 19th birthday. With 86 goals in 162 matches, Messi is the all-time leader of the Argentine national team in both goals and caps, with 30 goals more than second-placed Gabriel Omar Batistuta and 15 more matches than his long-time teammate Javier Mascherano. His 86 goals put him in 4th place among international goal scorers overall.
Interestingly, Lewandowski never scored a World Cup final goal because Poland qualified only once during Lewandowski’s impressive run in the last 12 years with his German football club. Since moving to Germany in 2010, Lewandowski has scored 103 goals in four seasons for Borussia Dortmund and 344 goals in 375 matches for Bayern Munich during the last eight seasons.
Even in the World Cup qualifiers, the captain of the Polish national team has an impressive record of 30 goals in 37 matches. Lewandowski just turned 34, but he’s got a new challenge since moving to Barcelona, where he’s already scored two goals in two games. Like Messi and Ronaldo, Lewandowski has a final chance to add a World Cup success to his resume.
Another player who can surpass some legends and reach the top of the goal scorers list is Germany’s silent killer, Thomas Müller, who is somewhat surprisingly among the World Cup’s top scorers in history. The Bayern Munich legend has already played at three World Cups, and in Russia, in 2018, he didn’t score. However, he found the net five times each in 2010 and 2014, when he helped Germany win its fourth World Cup.
After the group stage exit in 2018 and the Round of 16 exit at Euro 2020, Germany made massive changes, and Hansi Flick replaced Joachim Löw as the national team coach. Flick introduced a new generation starring:
- Kai Havertz
- Serge Gnabry
- Jamal Musiala
- Florian Wirtz
However, Müller remained on the team to lead them on and off the field. In Qatar, he will get a chance to add to his tally of 10 goals as a member of Die Mannschaft’s strong attacking formation.
On the way towards the second World Cup trophy for France, Mbappé scored four goals, including two in an epic quarterfinal game against Argentina, and one in the World Cup final game against Croatia, for a score of 4-1, which put the game out of reach for the Croatian national team.
Mbappé also made it to the youngest scorers list, sitting in 12th place of all time. PSG players have already scored 27 goals for Les Bleus in 57 matches. Mbappé will be 24 years old two days after the 2022 World Cup ends, so he has a chance to catch record holder Miroslav Klose during this one and the next two or three World Cups.
Even though he was among the World Cup’s top players in 2018, he wasn’t considered for the main individual award, but that could change this year, and he’ll have an opportunity to become one of the Golden Ball winners.
|7. Luis Suarez||Uruguay||Nacional||68||37|
|8. Romelu Lukaku||Belgium||Internazionale||68||15|
|9. Harry Kane||England||Tottenham||50||14|
|10. Karim Benzema||France||Real Madrid||37||20|
Most probably, there isn’t a more controversial player in football in the last decade than Neymar. His apparent diving and strange absences are constantly annoying football fans. None of them, however, can deny his offensive output. A 30-year-old PSG player debuted for the Seleção at the age of 18, and with his teammate Dani Alves he is chasing the two most capped Brazil players ever, fullbacks Cafu and Roberto Carlos.
Neymar is currently 4th with 119 games but is second in goals with 74, just three less than football and World Cup legend Pele. Counting only World Cup appearances, Neymar scored six goals in 10 games in Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018. He has a new opportunity in Qatar to add to his score and help Brazil win their sixth title, the first since 2002.
Uruguay’s best player in the last decade participated in three World Cups and scored seven goals in total. However, his most memorable World Cup moment is an intentional handball that got him a red card but saved the net. After a penalty kick that Asamoah Gyan of Ghana missed, Uruguay managed to pass through to the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Suarez and his counterpart in the Uruguay attack, Edinson Cavani, got reinforcement in the form of new Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez. This trio, together with a strong core in the midfield, have a new chance to reach beyond the semifinals, something they’ve done three times since their second title in 1950. Suarez’s record on the national team is outstanding, he is currently:
- 4th in caps
- 1st in goals
- Scored 68 times in 132 matches
Romelu Lukaku played his first match for the Belgium national team two months before his 17th birthday, and he surpassed 100 caps for the Red Devils before turning 30.
He played in two World Cups, scoring five goals in ten matches. With players like Kevin De Bruyne, the Hazard brothers, and their new hope in Charles De Ketelaere, Lukaku is looking to add to his all-time leading 68 goals in 102 matches for Belgium. If he remains in form, Belgium could take another step forward and reach the World Cup final.
Kane had an outstanding first campaign and was among the best soccer players in the World Cup four years ago. With six goals in six games, he propelled England’s team all the way to the semifinals, where they fell short despite an early lead. However, the team came even closer to a trophy on a subsequent Euro 2020, where they lost in the final game in a penalty shootout.
Harry Kane’s track record with the national team is on a record-breaking pace. He is second in goals behind Wayne Rooney, but it’s only a matter of time before he becomes an all-time leader, positioned in front of such legends as Charlton and Lineker. The national team’s captain scored 50 goals in 73 games after his late debut in 2015.
Karim Benzema’s return to the French national team gave their fans hope that they could repeat the success between 1998 and 2000 when France won both the World Cup and the Euro. However, Les Bleus fell short, exiting in the Round of 16.
Nevertheless, the team looks prepared for the World Cup title defense, and bringing back Benzema after a series of controversies will help. Before being left out of the 2018 team, Benzema was on the 2010 team but didn’t appear on the field. In 2014, he scored three goals in five matches, but France got knocked out by champions — Germany.
They have kept the core team and added more young talent to help Benzema add to his record of 37 goals in 97 games in his quest to surpass the French legend Michel Platini and move closer to Thierry Henry.
|11. Edinson Cavani||Uruguay||/||58||17|
|12. Aleksandar Mitrović||Serbia||Fulham||46||5|
|13. Gareth Bale||Wales||Los Angeles FC||40||22|
|14. Sadio Mane||Senegal||Bayern Munich||33||20|
|15. Ivan Perišić||Croatia||Tottenham||32||25|
Another veteran who has already had World Cup success is the Uruguayan striker, Edinson Cavani, a member of a 2010 squad that finished in 4th place and both the 2014 and 2018 teams. In total, he played in 14 World Cup games and scored five goals. Adding just one more goal would propel him over some legendary players who scored five goals.
Cavani has had success with the 2-time World Cup winners, capturing the Copa America in 2011 and his clubs, where he won 7 national titles. Cavani is the second of all-time in matches for Uruguay, behind his captain, Diego Godin. The forward appeared 133 times and scored 58 goals. This is the last trip to the World Cup for Uruguayan veterans and their final chance to improve on the successful 2010 campaign.
Former Newcastle United player, Mitrović became Serbia’s all-time top scorer at the age of 26. Mitrović was in top form last season for his team, Fulham FC, which again achieved promotion to the Premier League. Still, it was his goal against Portugal in the final minute of the game in the last qualifying match that highlighted his season.
Partnered with Ajax’s Dušan Tadić and new Juventus player Dušan Vlahović, Mitrović will try to score again in the World Cup, where he has one goal in three matches during Russia’s campaign, and add more goals to his record-holding 46 in 74 matches.
Bale is another player with an outstanding international career to go along with his trophied club career. The Welsh captain won the Champions League with Real Madrid five times and had success with Wales in 2016 when they finished 3rd in the European Championships. Moreover, he helped the team reach the tournament finals for the second time in the national team’s World Cup history.
During his international career that started in 2006, Bale played for Wales 106 times (2nd behind teammate Chris Gunter), and he is the highest scorer by a wide margin with 40 goals, 12 more than 2nd placed Ian Rush.
The biggest star of the Senegal national team is waiting for the World Cup in great spirit. He moved to Bayern Munich over the summer after leading Senegal to an Africa Cup of Nations trophy early in the year. Mane won every major trophy while at Liverpool, so the World Cup success would put him in consideration for the best African player of the 21st century.
For the first time, Mane led Senegal’s team to two consecutive qualifications for the World Cup competition. However, his one goal in Russia didn’t help them advance past the group stages despite winning four points.
With the help of teammates, captain Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea) and Idrissa Gueye (PSG), he will look to both surpass Senegal’s highest achievement (Quarterfinals in 2002) and become the first African country to reach the semifinals. Gueye and Mane are second and third in appearances, respectively, and Mane is already the team’s all-time top scorer with 33 goals in 91 games.
One of the crucial members of Croatia’s 2018 World Cup team, Perišić has been a staple for the team since his debut in 2011. The new Tottenham Hotspur winger is a part of the Croatian core along with captain Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić, and Ante Rebić, who continued with strong performances even after the retirements of Mario Mandžukić and Ivan Rakitić.
Perišić’s overall national team goal-scoring record in 113 games isn’t eye-popping, which is understandable considering his position. However, among his 32 goals and 25 assists, he scored five goals and added three assists in two World Cup tournaments, including one of each in both the 2018 semifinal win and final loss.
Currently, he is 4th in appearances and 3rd in goals for the Croatian national team, looking to add to his tally in possibly his last World Cup in Qatar.