Who has scored the most goals in a European soccer season?

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When one thinks of the greatest goal scorers in soccer history, two names likely come to mind: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

During Messi's 19 years in LaLiga, he scored 496 goals. In Ronaldo's 21 seasons across the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A, he totaled 495 goals. They are the only players to score at least 800 career goals.

Over the past 35 years, who has scored the most goals in a single season across the top five European leagues? Let's take a look at the numbers. (These totals include only league play.)

Lionel Messi, 50 goals (2011-12)

During the 2011-12 season, Messi recorded 50 goals and 16 assists. Although we're counting only goals in league play, Messi also dominated in the UEFA Champions League (14 goals), Copa del Rey (three), Club World Cup (two), UEFA Super Cup (three) and Supercopa (three). Barcelona ultimately wasn't able to win the LaLiga title, finishing second to Real Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo, 48 goals (2014-15)

This was Ronaldo at his best, as he finished the 2014-15 season with career highs in goals (48) and assists (16). Ronaldo won the Pichichi Trophy (which is given to LaLiga's top goal scorer each season), as Messi scored just 43 goals that season. However, Messi and Barcelona ultimately won the LaLiga title.

Lionel Messi, 46 goals (2012-13)

Messi followed up his incredible 50-goal season with another stellar performance during the 2012-13 campaign, totaling 46 goals and 11 assists while leading Barcelona to the LaLiga title. Messi won the Pichichi Trophy, which he has done a record eight times throughout his career.

Cristiano Ronaldo, 46 goals (2011-12)

During the 2011-12 season, Messi and Ronaldo had an intense battle for the Pichichi Trophy. Messi ultimately won thanks to his 50-goal season, with Ronaldo finishing as the runner-up with 46 goals of his own. No other player scored more than 24 goals that season. Ronaldo got his revenge by leading Real Madrid to the LaLiga title.

Lionel Messi, 43 goals (2014-15)

As previously mentioned, Messi's 43 goals during the 2014-15 season weren't enough to win the Pichichi Trophy, as Ronaldo scored 48. These two legends were playing on a different level from the rest of their peers, as no other player scored more than 22 goals that season. While Messi came up short in terms of goals, he still helped Barcelona win the LaLiga title.

Robert Lewandowski, 41 goals (2020-21)

During the 2020-21 season, Lewandowski scored 41 goals (a Bundesliga record). He was honored with the Kicker-Torjägerkanone, which is given to the top league scorer each season. Lewandowski is a seven-time winner of this award (a record), winning it five seasons in a row from 2017-18 to 2021-22 (another record). Lewandowski also led Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title in each of those seasons.

Luis Suarez, 40 goals (2015-16)

The 2015-16 Barcelona squad was a juggernaut, with Suarez totaling 40 goals and 17 assists, Messi recording 26 goals and 14 assists, and Neymar chipping in 24 goals and 10 assists. Suarez won the Pichichi Trophy, and Barcelona won the LaLiga title.

Cristiano Ronaldo, 40 goals (2010-11)

During the 2010-11 season, Ronaldo scored 40 goals to win his first Pichichi Trophy. However, as was the case every year that he led the league in goals, he wasn't able to lead Real Madrid to the LaLiga title (finishing second behind Barcelona).

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