Top La Liga Scorers of All Time
Soccer, or football, is king around the world. And just like in the United States with the "Big Four" professional sports leagues of the NFL, NBA, MLB and NBA or the "Power Five" conferences for college football, European sports have their own version when it comes to soccer.
In Europe, the "Big Five" soccer leagues are Bundesliga (Germany), Premier League (England), Serie A (Italy), Ligue 1 (France) and Spain's La Liga, which is regarded as the very best of the European leagues. La Liga has won the most Champions League titles, Europe League titles and UEFA Super Cups of any of the Big Five. And its players have the most Ballon d'Or awards, FIFA Men's World Player of the Year awards and UEFA Men's Player of the Year awards.
These are the greatest goal scorers in La Liga history, and they include some of the greatest soccer players of all time in their ranks.
30. Laszlo Kubala — 138 Goals
Born: June 10, 1927 (Budapest, Hungary)
Died: May 17, 2002 (age 74, Barcelona, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 215 (1951-65)
Bottom line: Before Lionel Messi came along, Barcelona fans usually regarded Hungarian-born Laszlo Kubala as the greatest player in club history. They even voted him as such in 1999.
To play in La Liga, Kubala was forced to flee Soviet-controlled Hungary post-World War II, escaping his home country by hiding in the back of a pickup truck.
Kubala won four La Liga championships during his time with Barcelona and coached the team twice after his playing career was over.
27. Jose Mari Bakero — 139 Goals (Tie)
Born: Feb. 11, 1963 (Goizueta, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 483 (1980-97)
Bottom line: Jose Mari Bakero stood just 5-foot-8, but a position switch from forward to attacking midfielder turned him into a scoring machine during his 17 seasons in La Liga.
Bakero also won La Liga titles with two different clubs — back-to-back with Real Sociedad in 1981 and 1982, then four consecutive titles with Barcelona from 1991 to 1994.
27. Juan Araujo — 139 Goals (Tie)
Born: Nov. 24, 1920 (Jaen, Spain)
Died: Nov. 4, 2002 (age 81, Seville, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 207 (1945-56)
Bottom line: Juan Araujo won a championship with Sevilla FC in his first year in La Liga, and Araujuo ended up being the hero.
Sevilla won the championship in their final match of the season at rival Barcelona, which needed to win to secure the title but walked away with a 1-1 draw, with Araujo scoring the lone goal for Sevilla.
While Araujo became one of the top career goal scorers in La Liga history, he never led the league in goals in a single season.
27. Manuel Badenes — 139 Goals (Tie)
Born: Nov. 30, 1928 (Castellon, Spain)
Died: Nov. 26, 2007, 78 years old (age 78, Castellon, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 201 (1946-59)
Bottom line: Manuel Badenes won the Pichichi Trophy in 1958 as La Liga's top scorer with 19 goals for Real Valladolid — a three-way tie with Ricardo Alos and fellow La Liga legend Alfredo Di Stefano.
Badenes won back-to-back La Liga titles with Barcelona in 1948 and 1949 before spending the next six seasons with Valencia FC, where he scored 90 goals in 97 appearances.
26. Silvestre Igoa — 141 Goals
Born: Sept. 5, 1920 (Anorga, Spain)
Died: May 31, 1969 (age 48, San Sebastian, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 284 (1941-56)
Bottom line: Silvestre Igoa spent the first nine years of his career with Valencia CF, where he scored 81 goals in 168 appearances and won three La Liga titles. He then spent seven seasons with Real Sociedad, where he scored 60 goals in 116 appearances from 1950 to 1956.
Igoa also scored two goals for Spain in the 1950 World Cup.
He died in 1969, at just 48 years old.
25. Raul Tamudo — 146 Goals
Born: Oct. 19, 1977 (Santa Coloma, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 407 (1997-2013)
Bottom line: Raul Tamudo played in La Liga for 16 years, made a whopping 407 appearances and became one of the greatest goal scorers in league history. Although none of it compares to the story of the bonkers transaction that occurred for Tamudo's rights early in his career.
Tamudo spent his teenage years playing for his local club, UDA Gramenet. When he was 18 years old, Gramenet reportedly traded his rights to Espanyol in exchange for six soccer balls.
Tamudo spent the next 13 seasons with Espanyol's top club, scoring 129 goals in 340 La Liga appearances.
24. Daniel Ruiz — 147 Goals
Born: June 28, 1951 (Sopuerta, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 303 (1974-86)
Bottom line: Daniel Ruiz — better known to soccer fans as simply Dani — was a penalty kick specialist and goal-scoring machine for Athletic Bilbao, scoring 147 goals over 302 La Liga appearances with the club.
While Dani had the majority of his individual success with Bilbao early in his career, team success would only come later on, when he won back-to-back La Liga titles in 1983 and 1984 as a role player.
23. Adrian Escudero — 150 Goals
Born: Nov. 24, 1927 (Madrid, Spain)
Died: March 7, 2011 (age 83, Madrid, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 287 (1945-58)
Bottom line: Adrian Escudero began playing for his hometown club Atletico Madrid in 1945, at just 18 years old. He spent the next 13 seasons with the club, leading them to back-to-back La Liga titles in 1950 and 1951.
Escudero spent his entire career with Atletico, making 287 appearances in La Liga play. After his career was over, he continued working for the club's youth teams before becoming an assistant manager for the top squad.
22. Julio Salinas — 152 Goals
Born: Sept. 11, 1962 (Bilbao, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 417 (1982-2000)
Bottom line: Julio Salinas was a prolific scorer in almost 20 years playing La Liga, where he became one of the few players in history to make over 400 appearances.
Salinas won six La Liga titles with two different clubs, Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona, but is much more well known for his time with Spain's national team. In international play, Salinas made 56 appearances for Spain, scored 22 goals and played in three World Cups.
21. Ferenc Puskas — 156 Goals
Born: April 1, 1927 (Budapest, Hungary)
Died: Nov. 17, 2006 (age 79, Budapest, Hungary)
La Liga appearances (years): 180 (1958-66)
Bottom line: Hungarian soccer player Ferenc Puskas is widely regarded as the first international superstar in the sport's history.
Puskas scored an incredible 625 goals in 631 appearances across NB I (Nemzeti Bajnokság), the top Hungarian League, and La Liga. Puskas' time in La Liga was relatively short compared to his time in NB I. He made 156 goals in 180 appearances for Real Madrid, won the Pichichi Trophy four times and the La Liga title six times. His greatest moment came in 1954, when he led Hungary to the World Cup final.
Puskas was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2000 and died in 2006, at 79 years old. Hungary held a state funeral for him, and his body was buried under the dome in St. Stephens Basilica in Budapest.
20. Aritz Aduriz — 158 Goals
Born: Feb. 11, 1981 (San Sebastian, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 443 (2002-20)
Bottom line: Aritz Aduriz bounced around La Liga like an NBA journeyman more than anything. He had three different stints with Athletico Bilbao and also spent time in La Liga with Real Valladolid, Mallorca and Valencia.
While Aduriz is one of the few players in history to make 400 career La Liga appearances, team success eluded him. In 18 seasons in La Liga, he never won a championship.
19. Antoine Griezmann — 159 Goals
Born: March 21, 1991 (Macon, France)
La Liga appearances (years): 413 (2010-present)
Bottom line: At only 31 years old, Antoine Griezmann not only has established himself as one of the greatest goal scorers in La Liga history but has what many on this list are missing — he won a World Cup with France in 2018 and was the Man of the Match in the World Cup final.
One big problem with Griezmann? He was caught on video being racist. He responded to the racism accusations and apologized.
But still no thanks.
18. Luis Aragones — 160 Goals
Born: July 28, 1938 (Madrid, Spain)
Died: Feb. 1, 2014 (age 75, Madrid, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 360 (1960-74)
Bottom line: The leading scorer in Atletico Madrid history, Luis Aragones won three La Liga titles with the club. One of those title years was in 1970, when he won the Pichichi Trophy. Aragones also led Atletico Madrid to a La Liga title as the club's manager in 1977.
Just like Antoine Griezmann, who is one spot behind him on the list of La Liga's career goals leaders, Aragones has been involved in racism controversies. He also denied being a racist and was cleared of racist conduct in a Spanish court.
But his reputation still took a hit.
17. Samuel Eto'o — 162 Goals
Born: March 10, 1981 (Doula, Cameroon)
La Liga appearances (years): 280 (1998-2009)
Bottom line: Cameroon native Samuel Eto'o battled racial abuse from fans, teammates and opponents throughout his career. It got so bad that at one point he forbade his family from coming to his matches. But Eto'o still found a way to become a superstar in La Liga.
Eto'o was named African Player of the Year four times in his career and won three La Liga titles in five years while playing for Barcelona alongside Lionel Messi.
16. Guillermo Gorostiza — 178 Goals
Born: Feb. 15, 1909 (Santurtzi, Spain)
Died: Aug. 23, 1966 (age 57, Bilbao, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 256 (1929-45)
Bottom line: Guillermo Gorostiza spent all 14 seasons of his professional career in La Liga playing for Athletic Bilbao and Valencia, winning six La Liga championships between the two clubs and bringing home the Pichichi Trophy as La Liga's top scorer twice, in 1930 and 1932.
Gorostiza's career came apart in its later years because of dual addictions to alcohol and sex, with the star forward sometimes showing up for matches drunk or having not slept at all. He died destitute in a nursing home in Bilbao, Spain, in 1966. He was 57 years old.
15. Luis Suarez — 179 Goals
Born: Jan. 24, 1987 (Salto, Uruguay)
La Liga appearances: 252 (2014-present)
Bottom line: Few soccer players in history have played the villain role as well as Luis Suarez, a four-time La Liga champion.
Suarez's actions are everything wrong with soccer. He's bitten opponents on multiple occasions, including the 2014 World Cup, and has become as known for taking dives and flopping as he has for scoring goals throughout his career.
Worse than that, like several other players on this list, Suarez was involved in a racism controversy. In 2011, the FA banned Suarez for eight matches for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
14. Juan Arza — 182 Goals
Born: June 12, 1923 (Estella, Spain)
Died: July 17, 2011 (age 88, Seville, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 349 (1943-59)
Bottom line: Juan Arza spent the majority of his career with Sevilla, where he played 16 seasons, won a La Liga championship in 1946 and won the Pichichi Trophy in 1955, when he scored 29 goals.
After his retirement in 1960, Arza had a long career as a manager, where he led several different clubs, including Sevilla until 1980.
13. David Villa — 185 Goals
Born: Dec. 3, 1981 (Langreo, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 352 (2003-14)
Bottom line: Growing up in rural Spain, David Villa earned the nickname "The Kid" for playing soccer with children much older than him from an early age.
Villa's fame skyrocketed in the early 2000s as a star for lots of different teams in La Liga in a series of ever-more-expensive transfers — Sporting Gijon, Real Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Villa won two La Liga championships with Barcelona in 2011 and 2013 and was named La Liga's Spanish Player of the Year in 2006.
12. Santillana — 186 Goals
Born: Aug. 23, 1952 (Santillana del Mar, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 461 (1970-88)
Bottom line: Carlos Gonzalez was known as Santillana throughout his career — a nickname given to him in honor of his hometown.
Santillana made an immediate impact in La Liga as a 19-year-old with Real Madrid in 1971, scoring 10 goals in 34 appearances on the way to winning the first of nine La Liga titles.
Santillana played in La Liga for 17 seasons — all with Real Madrid — and represented Spain in the World Cup twice.
11. Edmundo Suarez — 195 Goals
Born: Jan. 22, 1916 (Barakaldo, Spain)
Died: Dec. 14, 1978 (age 62, Barakaldo, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 231 (1939-50)
Bottom line: Edmundo Suarez did it all in La Liga over 11 seasons with Valencia FC, winning three La Liga titles and winning the Pichichi Trophy twice as the league's top scorer.
Known as "Mundo" by fans, the truly interesting twist in his career came before it really began. Suarez had a contract in place with Athletic Bilbao, but the Spanish Civil War changed his future. Because Suarez's contract was signed in pro-Franco territory, it was considered invalid, and he was placed on a pro-Franco army team.
Facing Valencia FC in an exhibition match, the club quickly swooped up all the team's best players on new contracts, including Juarez.
10. Pahino — 210 Goals
Born: Jan. 21, 1923 (Vigo, Spain)
Died: June 12, 2012 (age 89, Madrid, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 278 (1943-56)
Bottom line: Pahino lit up La Liga in 13 seasons with Celta, Real Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna, winning the Pichichi Trophy with Celta and Real Madrid.
Pahino only made three appearances for Spain's national team in seven years on the roster.
9. Karim Benzema — 216 goals
Born: Dec. 19, 1987 (Lyon, France)
La Liga appearances (years): 410 (2009-present)
Bottom line: Karim Benzema might be one of the greatest scorers in La Liga history. But off the field has been another story, involving more controversial actions.
Benzema was implicated in a scandal where he and fellow teammates had sex with underage prostitutes. He also was arrested for trying to blackmail one of his teammates on France's national team, Mathieu Valbuena, with a sex tape in 2015.
Benzema was found guilty of conspiracy to blackmail Valbuena with the sex tape in 2021 and given a one-year suspended sentence with a hefty fine.
8. Quini — 219 Goals
Born: Sept. 23, 1949 (Ovideo, Spain)
Died: Feb. 27, 2018 (age 68, Gijon, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 448 (1970-87)
Bottom line: Quini spent the majority of his remarkable career playing for Sporting Gijon. He won the Pichichi Trophy as the top goal scorer in La Liga four times but never won a La Liga championship in 17 seasons.
Quini, who died in 2018 at 68 years old, also was involved in one of the most bizarre incidents in soccer history that overshadowed his achievements on the field.
In 1981, Quini was kidnapped at gunpoint by two men following a home match in Barcelona and held for 25 days before a joint Spanish-Swiss operation rescued him. Barcelona lost the La Liga title race due to his absence.
7. Cesar Rodriguez — 223 Goals
Born: July 6, 1920 (Leon, Spain)
Died: March 1, 1955 (age 74, Barcelona, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 353 (1939-55)
Bottom line: Cesar Rodriguez was a pro for 21 years, with the majority of that coming while he played for Barcelona.
Rodriguez won four La Liga titles with Barcelona, including in 1949 when he won the Pichichi Trophy as the league's top scorer.
Rodriguez also played for Spain in the 1950 World Cup. After his playing career was over, Rodriguez was the manager for both Zaragoza and Barcelona.
6. Alfredo Di Stefano — 227 Goals
Born: July 4, 1936 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Died: July 7, 2014 (age 88, Madrid, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 329 (1953-66)
Bottom line: Alfredo Di Stefano won eight La Liga championships and won the Pichichi Trophy five times, but his career has a major accomplishment missing — he never played in a World Cup.
That's because Di Stefano jumped countries like some people change socks, first playing for his native Argentina, then Colombia and then, finally, Spain, where he finally qualified for the World Cup in 1962 but was sidelined because of injury.
That being said, he is arguably the most dominant Champions League player in history, winning five straight titles from 1956 to 1960 with Real Madrid and two Ballon d'Or trophies in 1957 and 1959.
5. Raul — 228 Goals
Born: June 27, 1977 (Madrid, Spain)
La Liga appearances: 550 (1994-2010)
Bottom line: No player in Real Madrid history has more appearances than Raul, who played for the club for 16 seasons — he made his first appearance in La Liga when he was just 17 years old. With Real Madrid, Raul won six La Liga titles and was named La Liga's top Spanish player a record five times.
On the international stage, Raul made 102 appearances and scored 44 goals for Spain's national team, including playing in three World Cups.
4. Hugo Sanchez — 234 Goals
Born: July 11, 1958 (Mexico City, Mexico)
La Liga appearances (years): 347 (1981-94)
Bottom line: Hugo Sanchez is viewed as the greatest soccer player in Mexico's history and became known on the international stage for his over-the-top goal celebrations, including a backflip.
Sanchez was at his best in La Liga while playing for Real Madrid from 1985 to 1992. He won five consecutive La Liga titles from 1986 to 1990, winning the Pichichi Trophy four times in that stretch.
Sanchez played in the World Cup for Mexico three times, helping lead the team to the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals.
3. Zarra — 251 Goals
Born: Jan. 20, 1921 (Erandio, Spain)
Died: Feb. 23, 2006 (age 85, Bilbao, Spain)
La Liga appearances (years): 278 (1940-55)
Bottom line: More commonly known as just Zarra to soccer fans all over the world, Telmo Zarra won the Pichichi Trophy six times over 15 seasons for Athletic Bilbao, and his career record of 251 La Liga goals stood for almost 60 years before it was broken by Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
While individual accomplishments came easy for Zarra, team success was much more difficult. He won the La Liga title just once, in 1943. He also made 20 international appearances for Spain, where he helped lead his country to the 1950 World Cup semifinals.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo — 311 Goals
Born: Feb. 5, 1985 (Funchal, Madeira, Portugal)
La Liga appearances (years): 292 (2009-18)
Bottom line: The first soccer player to earn $1 billion, Cristiano Ronaldo is also the career leader for goals (130) and assists (40) in Champions League history.
Ronaldo became the first player to win five Champions League titles. The first was with Manchester United, then the next four with Real Madrid.
His goals per appearance average in La Liga, where he won two titles with Real Madrid, was an amazing 1.07 per appearance. And he won the Pichichi Trophy three times.
1. Lionel Messi — 474 Goals
Born: June 24, 1987 (Rosario, Argentina)
La Liga appearances (years): 520 (2004-21)
Bottom line: At just 5-foot-7, Lionel Messi's height doesn't indicate what a giant he has been in his sport. Not unlike fellow Argentinian superstar Diego Maradona. Messi was the first player to win four consecutive Ballon d'Or trophies and has won the award a record six times.
In La Liga, he was simply unstoppable, and his 474 goals in 520 appearances is a record that might never be broken. He also won a whopping 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona before leaving the club for Paris St. Germain in 2021.