When people talk about the best player in the world, there are only two names that get brought up: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. They’ve been dominant for so long that they have tenure. They’re like the Williams sisters, if both sisters were Serena. But their reign won’t last forever. There are younger, hungrier players nipping at their heels. In fact, Everton’s 23-year-old Romelu Lukaku is on pace to score more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo – way more.
Let’s look at the best players over the past 20 years and how many goals they had at 23:
David Villa – 70
The Spaniard is one of the most clinical finishers around.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Luis Suarez – 77
Luis Suarez is not only 1/3 of the most dangerous front line of all time but also the bobbing for apples champ.
Wayne Rooney – 94
By the time Wayne Rooney had turned 23, he had scored one goal for every word he knows.
Once upon a time, Fernando Torres was one of the best strikers on the planet, but he peaked too early, like Cousin Terio.
Hold on, hold on. Before you click off the page in a fit of furious rage, let me explain. Whilst it is true that back in the day professional wrestlers all had arms bigger than my head, that isn't the case in today's WWE landscape.
Smaller guys (and I use that term lightly, Ronaldo is still a sensational human) have been thriving as of late.
Also, it isn't just about the look - you need to have some character behind you too. Ronaldo could play the cocky arsehole role brilliantly and the crowd would eat it up.
Michael Owen – 111
They say never trust a man with two first names, but for Michael Owen, we'll make an exception.
Romelu Lukaku – 119
Romelu Lukaku has over 20 more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo did at 23.
Source: Alex Livesey/Getty Images