On this page, we’ll run down the list of La Liga all time top scorers featuring some of the best forwards and most prolific goalscorers in the 91 year history of the Spanish top flight. Figures are accurate as of 26th May 2020. Only players to have scored 150+ league goals are included.
La Liga All Time Top Scorers
21. Adrián Escudero (Atletico Madrid) – 150 Goals in 287 Games (1945-1958)
Born in Madrid, Escudero represented Atleti with distinction for 13 years and was part of the side that won back-to-back league titles in 1949-50 and 1950-51. Despite his goalscoring exploits, he only won 3 caps for Spain and retired at just 30, denying him the chance to move further up the list of La Liga’s all time top goalscorers.
20. Julio Salinas (Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Deportivo, Sporting Gijon) – 152 Goals in 417 Games (1982-1997)
Julio Salinas enjoyed a colourful career which saw him feature for a host of top clubs starting out in the Basque Country with Athletic as something of a fringe player in their back-to-back title wins in the 1980’s. He went on to score 15+ league goals on five occasions in his career – achieving the feat for four straight seasons between 1986 and 1990, with his 1988 move from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona being the defining moment in his career in many respects. However curiously Salinas’ second most prolific season came at the tail-end of his career when he netted 18 times for Sporting Gijon in the 1995-96 campaign.
19. Ferenc Puskás (Real Madrid) – 156 Goals in 180 Games (1958-1966)
No player in the top 30 all-time La Liga goalscorers has appeared in fewer games than Real Madrid legend Ferenc Puskás. The Hungarian had already turned 30 by the time he joined Los Blancos in 1958 but underlined his status as one of the true greats of his era by scoring 20+ league goals in each of his first six seasons in the Spanish capital. His average of 0.87 goals per game is the best outside of the top three. Imagine if he had joined Madrid a decade earlier!
18. Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao, Mallorca, Valencia) – 158 Goals in 443 Games (2002-2020)
On the subject of thriving in your thirties, we move nicely on to Aritz Aduriz. The Athletic Club legend recently announced his retirement with his 158th and final La Liga goal being that stunning bicycle kick to defeat Barcelona on the opening day of the 2019-20 season. Aduriz wasn’t really known as a prolific goalscorer until he rejoined Athletic in 2012 at the age of 31. His best top flight season tally was just 12 goals at that point but he bettered that in each of his first five seasons back at San Mames, peaking with 36 goals in all competitions during the 2015-16 campaign.
17. Luis Aragonés (Real Oviedo, Real Betis, Atletico Madrid) – 160 Goals in 360 Games (1960-1974)
Better known these days for his managerial exploits, chiefly as the man who started Spain’s golden generation by leading La Roja to Euro 2008 glory, Luis Aragonés was also a very fine player. He remains Atleti’s all-time top scorer to this day and fired in 160 goals in La Liga during his playing days, the vast majority of which were for Atleti who he first joined in 1964 after a successful three years in Seville with Real Betis.
15. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) – 162 Goals in 338 Games (2009-)
One of just two players with 150+ goals in La Liga who remain active, Karim Benzema has shot up this list over the past couple of years, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2018 contributing to his reemergence as a more prolific regular scorer of goals. If the Frenchman remains in Madrid for a few more years, he could easily pass 200 and move into the top ten of La Liga’s all time top scorers, despite being regularly criticised for his wastefulness in front of goal.
15. Samuel Eto’o (Real Madrid, Mallorca, Barcelona) – 162 Goals in 280 Games (1998-2009)
Level with Benzema for now on 162 goals lies another modern-day La Liga goalscoring great. While he did briefly represent Real Madrid, Espanyol and even Leganes, all of Eto’o’s La Liga goals came for Mallorca or Barcelona. It was in Palma where he really made his name with the Cameroonian striker contributing to Mallorca’s surprise Copa del Rey win in 2003 and netting 17 league goals in his final season on the island before moving to Barcelona where he racked up over 100 La Liga goals in just 5 seasons before joining Inter Milan in 2009.
14. Guillermo Gorostiza (Athletic Bilbao, Valencia) – 178 Goals in 256 Games (1929-1945)
With an average of 0.7 goals per game, Gorostiza was one of the most prolific forwards during the early years of La Liga. His tally would have been much greater were it not for the Spanish Civil War which caused there to be no league for three seasons in what would have been the very peak years of Gorostiza’s career between 1936 and 1939. His goalscoring exploits helped secure four league titles for Athletic and two more for Valencia – the first in the club’s history.
13. Juan Arza (Sevilla) – 182 Goals in 349 Games (1943-1959)
Although born in Navarre and initially on the books of Alaves in the Basque Country, Arza would move to Sevilla at the age of 20. A virtually unknown name at the time, he netted a hat-trick on his full debut against Sabadell and went on to represent the Andalusian club for an extraordinary 16 years, playing a part in what remains the club’s only league title win in 1945-46. He finally won the Pichichi for the first time in 1954-55. To this day, no player has scored more goals for Sevilla in the top flight.
12. David Villa (Zaragoza, Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona) – 185 Goals in 352 Games (2003-2014)
Relatively under-appreciated for much of his career, many now regard David Villa as Spain’s greatest ever striker. Having initially started out in Asturias with Sporting Gijon, Villa made his top flight bow with Zaragoza in 2003 and scored 15 or more league goals in eight straight seasons until 2011, by which time he was a Barcelona player, not to mention a world champion. A brief stint at Atletico Madrid followed but Villa’s best club years were at Valencia, peaking in the 2008-09 season where he fired in 28 goals in just 33 league appearances.
11. Santillana (Real Madrid) – 186 Goals in 461 Games (1971-1988)
Having finished as the top scorer in the Segunda Division with Racing Santander in 1970-71, Carlos Alonso González, better known as Santillana (the Cantabrian town of his birth) spent 17 seasons at the Bernabeu wearing the famous white shirt of Real Madrid. While seldom the star of the team, the diminutive forward was a constant presence for Los Blancos for nearly two decades and at the time of his retirement, was the club’s 2nd highest all-time goalscorer but has since slipped to 4th on that list.
10. Edmundo Suárez (Valencia, Alcoyano) – 195 Goals in 231 Games (1939-1951)
Barakaldo-born Edmundo Suárez is another great goalscorer from the early years of La Liga. His emergence may have taken place at Athletic Club had it not been for the Spanish Civil War but it was at Valencia, where the man known as Mundo rose to prominence and established himself as a legendary figure who scored goals for fun throughout the 1940’s for Los Che before spending a solitary top flight season at nearby Alcoyano at the end of his career.
9. Pahiño (Celta Vigo, Real Madrid, Deportivo) – 210 Goals in 278 Games (1943-1956)
Another striker to emerge in the 1940’s was Pahiño. The Galician won the Pichichi at both Celta Vigo and Real Madrid before the Vigo-native surprisingly joined Celta’s bitter rivals Depor in 1953. Much like Mundo Suárez, his goals per game ratio was exceptional and he remains one of just nine men to have passed 200 goals in La Liga.
8. Quini (Sporting Gijon, Barcelona) – 219 Goals in 448 Games (1970-1987)
Quini is one of Spain’s greatest ever strikers with his numbers all the more remarkable given he spent all but four years of his top flight career playing for unfashionable Sporting Gijon. Born up the road in Oviedo, Quini was a firm fixture throughout Sporting’s golden years, scoring 23 league goals as the Asturians finished 2nd in La Liga in the 1978-79 season. After four years at Barcelona, he returned to Gijon in 1984 and finished his career with 219 top flight goals to his name and five Pichichi trophies. He also finished top scorer in the Segunda Division on two occasions with his total career goal tally surpassing 300.
7. César Rodríguez (Granada, Barcelona, Cultural Leonesa, Elche) – 223 Goals in 353 Games (1941-1960)
Perhaps Barcelona’s first truly great striker, César was the focal point of Barça’s attack throughout the 1940’s and during the first half of the 1950’s. He averaged a goal-per-game or better in three La Liga seasons and won five league titles with the Catalans. His career even had a fairytale conclusion as he dropped down to the third tier to play for Elche in 1957 and helped guide the club to back-to-back promotions ensuring he would again play in the top flight as a 39 year old player-manager in the 1959-60 season, two decades on from a stunning debut season in La Liga at Granada.
6. Alfredo Di Stéfano (Real Madrid, Espanyol) – 227 Goals in 329 Games (1953-1966)
Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stéfano quickly soared towards the top of this list after arriving in Spain in 1953. Di Stéfano won the Pichichi in 5 of his first 6 seasons in La Liga, during a period which also saw the Buenos Aires born forward pick up a host of team trophies as Real Madrid dominated European football and were crowned La Liga winners multiple times. Di Stéfano finished his career with two seasons at Espanyol, retiring just before his 40th birthday.
5. Raúl (Real Madrid) – 228 Goals in 550 Games (1994-2010)
Staying at the Bernabeu and moving on to the man who passed Di Stéfano to briefly become Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer. While it took him over 200 more games, Raúl also leapfrogged Di Stéfano in La Liga’s goalscoring charts with his 228 goals spread over 16 years starting with a Madrid derby winning goal when he was just 17 and ending in 2010 with his move to Schalke where he enjoyed two successful seasons.
4. Hugo Sánchez (Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Rayo Vallecano) – 234 Goals in 347 Games (1981-1994)
Mexican striker Hugo Sanchez became a Madrid football icon, playing for three clubs in the city between 1981 and 1994. His peak years were at Real Madrid where he averaged exactly 30 league goals per season across his first five campaigns playing for Los Blancos having made the controversial cross-city move from Atleti. Sanchez underlined his class by returning to Madrid to play for Rayo Vallecano, scoring 16 goals in a struggling Rayo side in his final season in La Liga.
3. Telmo Zarra (Athletic Bilbao) – 251 Goals in 278 Games (1940-1955)
For over 50 years, Telmo Zarra stood alone as the all-time La Liga record goalscorer. He spent his entire top flight career playing for Athletic, scoring 251 goals spread across 15 seasons, winning the Pichichi Trophy six times. On top of his league haul, Zarra also scored a remarkable 81 Copa del Rey goals, a feat which remains unbeaten to this day to end his career as Athletic’s all-time top scorer and arguably greatest ever player.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 311 Goals in 292 Games (2009-2018)
Ronaldo playing for Real Madrid in 2010-11 by Jan SOLO, CC BY-SA 2.0
Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player to feature in this countdown who averaged more than a goal per game in La Liga, scoring an extraordinary 311 times in the Spanish flight in the space of just nine seasons in Madrid. He spent most of his Real Madrid career on the wing before featuring more heavily in a central role during his latter years at the Bernabeu. His best tally was the 48 league goals he managed during the 2014-15 season with the Portuguese netting 40+ goals in all competitions in all but his very first season in Spain.
1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 438 Goals in 474 Games (2004-)
Messi scoring against Granada via Lluís, CC BY 2.0
La Liga’s all-time record goalscorer is Lionel Messi with 438 goals and counting (this article was published in May 2020). Messi’s first goal in La Liga came in May 2005 against Albacete and he has gone on to totally eclipse the achievements of all the greats of Spanish football past. The 500 goal mark is now firmly in sight for Messi. Should he reach 502 goals, he would have doubled the La Liga goal tally of Telmo Zarra, who held the record for half a century. While records are supposedly there to be broken, we suspect this one might last quite a while!