Cristiano Ronaldo is still the all-time record goalscorer in international football, having netted 117 times in 187 matches for Portugal, but Lionel Messi has cut the gap by putting five past Estonia in a friendly on Sunday.
The Argentina captain now has 86 goals from 162 appearances, placing him fourth on the all-time list and meaning he has now moved ahead of Hungary‘s Ferenc Puskas, who had 84 strikes.
The all-time ranking of national team goalscorers
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal): 117 goals
- Ali Daei (Iran): 109 goals
- Mokhtar Dahari (Malaysia): 89 goals
- Lionel Messi (Argentina): 86 goals
- Ferenc Puskas (Hungary and Spain): 84 goals
- Godfrey Chitalu (Zambia) – 79 goals
- Hussein Saeed (Iraq) – 78 goals
- Pel (Brazil) – 77 goals
- Ali Mabkhout (UAE) – 76 goals
- Sandor Kocsis (Hungary) – 75 goals
Can Messi catch Ronaldo for international goals?
Messi is still significantly behind Ronaldo in this sense, trailing his longtime rival by 31 goals.
Even though Messi is only 34 and more than two years younger than Ronaldo, it is unlikely that the No.10 will ever catch the Portugal captain, as Messi could retire from Argentina duty after the World Cup in Qatar.
However, Messi will make the podium with just three more goals and could catch Ali Daei‘s 109 goals if he keeps producing performances like that of Sunday night.
That display showed that Messi has what it takes to bully weaker international sides and left some fans wondering how many the forward might have scored had he not been with a South American national team all his career, where the World Cup qualifiers are notoriously more difficult than the European qualifiers.
Looking at the per-minute stats of Messi and Ronaldo‘s international careers, Ronaldo has been scoring at a rate of 127 minutes per goal for the Selecao, while Messi has done so at 156 minutes per goal for the Albiceleste.