In 1929, the Spanish La Liga was created as the highest divisional soccer league in Spain. It's contested by 20 teams, with the three lowest-placed teams relegated to the Segunda Division at the end of each season and replaced by the top two teams and a play-off winner.
A total of 62 teams have competed since La Liga's inception. In addition to Real Madrid winning the title a record 34 times and Barcelona on the second with 26 league titles, nine other teams have been crowned champions.
The then-Athletic Bilbao player Telmo Zarra held the all-time highest goalscorer record in the tournament, up until 2014. Between 1945 and 1953, he was the Spanish league's highest scorer for six seasons.
21. Julio Salinas – 152 goals
Julio Salinas is a well-known name in La Liga, as he spent most of his career in Spain. He started his career in Athletic Bilbao, having gone through their youth academy. In 1981, he was added to the first team.
The Bilbao-born forward managed 152 total goals in 417 appearances in La Liga. 60 of them he scored in the Barcelona jersey, 31 for Atletico Madrid, 13 for Athletic Club, 24 for Sporting Gijon, and 12 for Deportivo Alaves and Deportivo La Coruna.
20. Luis Suarez – 156 goals
Luis Suarez is tied with Julio Salinas for the 20th spot with 156 goals scored. Suarez has played in two clubs in La Liga: Barcelona (2014-2020), and Atletico Madrid (2020-). He is the second active player in the top 20 list, with 203 games in Spain so far.
The Uruguayan striker netted 147 times in 191 league games while wearing the Blaugrana jersey. In addition, he has fnine strikes in 13 matches for Atletico in the Spanish league so far.
19. Ferenc Puskas – 156 goals
Puskas is one of the several players on this list to have featured for only one La Liga club in their career. For Real Madrid, he made 180 total La Liga appearances in the period of eight years, from 1958 to 1966.
The Hungarian managed to convert 156 successful shots in La Liga. He died on November 17, 2006, aged 79.
18. Aritz Aduriz – 158 goals
Aduriz spent his entire career playing for Spanish top-tier and lower-tier clubs. He began his professional career at Aurrera in 1999. A year later, he joined Atletic Bilbao reserves, before being deployed in the first team in 2004.
Over the course of his career, he played for other Spanish clubs, but opted to return to Bilbao in 2012, and retire there in 2020. The 39-year-old managed to score 118 goals for Athletic, in addition to 23 for Mallorca, and 17 for Valencia in La Liga.
17. Luis Aragones – 160 goals
Aragones started his professional career at Getafe in 1957, but it only took one season for him to be noticed by Real Madrid. Unfortunately, he never got to debut for the first team of the Whites.
He netted a total of 160 total goals in La Liga for three different clubs. The Spanish midfielder scored 3 gaols for Oviedo, 33 for Real Betis, and 123 for Atletico Madrid. He died on February 1, 2014, aged 75.
16. Samuel Eto'o – 162 goals
Samuel Eto'o had a very colorful career, playing for 13 different clubs worldwide. With only three of them, he made his debut in La Liga. An interesting fact that people often find surprising is that he is a product of Real Madrid’s youth academy.
The ex-Cameroon international made three league appearances for Los Blancos but failed to register any goal. Thus, out of the 162 goals in Spain, Eto’o scored 108 for Barcelona, and 54 for Mallorca. He retired in 2019, at Qatar SC.
15. Karim Benzema – 177 goals
Karim Benzema is the second active player in the top 20 list. He joined Real Madrid in 2009, and he’s currently going into his 11th season at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Frenchman didn’t always have it easy at Madrid, but he exploded after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure for Juventus in summer 2018. Benzema has played in 364 La Liga games so far, managing to score 177 times.
14. Guillermo Gorostiza – 178 goals
Guillermo Gorostiza played for three Spanish clubs in total, but two of them were La Liga clubs. The Spanish forward started his career at Arenas Getxo in the far 1927.
He has scored 178 goals total La Liga goals split between two clubs: 72 for Valencia (from 1940 to 1945), and 35 for Athletic Bilbao (from 1929 to 1940). He died on August 23, 1966, aged 57.
13. Juan Arza – 182 goals
Arza is also one of the many players who spent all their playing career in Spain. However, out of the four clubs he played, at the time, only Sevilla were La Liga members.
For Sevilla, he made 349 league appearances from the period of 1949 to 1959, scoring 182 goals in total. Arza died on July 17, 2011, aged 88.
12. David Villa – 185 goals
David Villa is a well-known La Liga and a worldwide legend. He began his pro career at Sporting Gijon B in 2000, before being included in the first team the next season. He featured in four top-division clubs.
For Valencia, he scored 107 league goals, in addition to 33 at Barcelona, 32 at Real Zaragoza, and 13 at Atletico Madrid. He retired in 2020, after spending the 2019-20 season at Vissel Kobe.
11. Santillana – 186 goals
Santillana spent his whole career in Spain, playing for two clubs in total, with one of them in La Liga. The former Spanish striker started his soccer adventure at Racing Santander in 1970, but it only took a season for Real Madrid to snatch him.
From 1971 to 1988, Santillana made 461 league appearances and scored 186 goals for Los Blancos. In 1988, he called it quits after helping the team gather three titles in a row in his final three seasons.
10. Edmundo Suarez – 195 goals
Edmundo Suarez began his career in Athletic Bilbao in 1935 but was soon shipped off after failing to leave a mark at the club in just one season.
From 1939 to 1950, he featured for Valencia, making 210 La Liga appearances and scoring 186 goals. In his final season, he played for Alcoyano, where he netted nine times in 21 league games. He died on December 14, 1978, aged 62.
9. Pahiño – 210 goals
Pahiño started his professional career at Celta in 1943. He spent five seasons there and joined Real Madrid in 1948. He played for four total clubs but made at least one La Liga appearance for three of them.
The Vigo-born former midfielder had a terrific record of 111 goals for Real Madrid in 124 games, in addition to 57 strikes at Celta, and 46 at Deportivo La Coruna. He died on June 12, 2012, aged 89.
8. Quini – 219 goals
Quini started his career in Spain at Ensidesa in 1967, before moving to Sporting Gijon just a year later. He played for four Spanish teams, in La Liga and lower leagues.
In addition, he featured for Barcelona, where he made 100 appearances. That way, he reached a total of 448 La Liga games, where he scored 219 goals.
7. Cesar Rodriguez – 223 goals
Cesar Rodriguez began his career at Barcelona in 1939, and he spent 16 years of his playing career at the Catalan club. The Barcelona-born forward played for a total of six Spanish clubs, four of which were competing in La Liga.
Rodriguez netted 190 goals in 287 games for Barca, 5 for Elche, 23 for Granada, and 3 for Cultural Leonesa. He died on March 1, 1995, aged 74.
6. Alfredo Di Stefano – 227 goals
Alfredo Di Stefano began his soccer path at River Plate in Argentina in 1945. After he managed to make his name in his homeland and Colombia for Milionarios, it was announced that he would be joining La Liga side Real Madrid in 1953.
During his 11-year stay in Madrid, from 1953 to 1964, Di Stefano reached 282 league matches, scoring 216 goals in total. He died on July 7, 2014, aged 88.
5. Raul – 229 goals
The famous Real Madrid legend Raul makes his way into the top 5 La Liga all-time top goalscorers. Despite featuring for both Madrid youth clubs, it was Real who introduced to first-team soccer in 1994.
Raul spent 16 years at the Santiago Bernabeu, filled with all sorts of collective and individual accolades and trophies. He made 550 total league appearances for the Whites and scored on 229 occasions.
4. Hugo Sanchez – 234 goals
Hugo Sanchez made his name in Mexico while featuring for UNAM (Pumas), from 1976 to 1981. That summer, he was shipped off to Atletico Madrid, where he stayed for four years. In addition, in 1985, Sanchez moved to their arch city rivals, Real Madrid.
He scored 164 goals in 2017 La Liga games for the Whites, in addition to 54 at Atletico Madrid, and 16 for Rayo Vallecano. The Mexican forward announced his retirement in 1997, after spending the season at Atletico Celaya.
3. Telmo Zarra – 251 goals
Zarra started his career at Erandio in 1939, but shortly after, Atletic Bilbao noticed him and signed him the next season. He has also played for another two Spanish clubs, but only Bilbao featured in La Liga.
With the Basque side, he netted 251 La Liga goal in 277 matches over the course of 15 years, from 1940 to 1955. He died on February 23, 2006, aged 85.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – 311 goals
Cristiano Ronaldo is a youth product of Sporting Lisbon in Portugal. He made his name after leaving his homeland to play for Manchester United. Having won the Ballon d’Or the year before, Real Madrid lured him in 2009.
From 2009 to 2018, CR7 made 292 La Liga appearances for the Santiago Bernabeu side, marking 311 total goals. The 35-year-old forward is currently featuring for Juventus in Serie A.
1. Lionel Messi – 455 goals
Messi has spent his entire career at Barcelona, after coming through the Blaugrana’s and Newell's Old Boys’s youth ranks. In 2004, he was transferred to the first team where he made his competitive debut at the age of just 17.
The Argentine has so far featured in 502 La Liga games for Barca and scored 455 goals. The 33-year-old forward is going into his 16th season at the Camp Nou, and it’s safe to say that he’ll only keep improving his already-unreachable record.