A club’s all-time goalscoring record is one of the most important milestones on its honors list, often receiving the most attention when broken.
Some of those records have stood for over 100 years, while a handful have been broken in this century, with Harry Kane being the last man to etch his name in club history.
On Sunday, the 29-year-old scored his 267th Tottenham goal in win against Manchester City, putting him past the tally of fellow Englishman Jimmy Greaves.
But what about other top-flight English clubs and their all-time record? Which players currently hold them, how close are they to being broken, and who could become new record holders?
First, some clarification on the numbers.
As the Times recently reported, the discrepancies are a trap when discussing the subject of the club’s record goalscorers, partly because the Football Association does not keep full official records.
We therefore rely on other sources to provide us with statistics, primarily the clubs themselves and unofficial authorities such as the English National Football Archive.
This raises an issue with Greaves’ goal tally, which Spurs set at 266 but did not include his two goals scored in Charity (now called Community) Shield games.
By comparison, the 253 goals Wayne Rooney scored and recognized as Manchester United’s goalscoring record includes those in Charity/Community Shield games (he scored one), as do Frank Lampard’s records with a Chelsea record of 211 (one), Ian Rush’s Best of Liverpool on 346 (three) and others.
For the purposes of this article and consistency with our reporting on Kane, we stick to Spurs’ interpretation of the record.
As you can see from the dates of the records above, a player becoming their club’s top scorer is a rare feat and even more so in the transient and unequal world of modern football.
Only six of the men who currently hold the highest tally by a Premier League club have reached it this century, with eight records since the start of World War II.
It is no mystery as to why this is the case. In general, players simply don’t stay at clubs as long as they once did, especially those of high caliber who play outside of the ‘big six’ clubs in the division.
Interestingly but unsurprisingly, five of the six records broken this century have been won by one of the Premier League’s established elite teams – those with the power and financial muscle to retain the best strikers for an extended period.
There will of course always be exceptions. Alan Shearer – the only man to break a goalscoring record at a non-‘big six’ club this century – moved to and stayed at Newcastle due to his personal affinity with his hometown club.
And who says that such a relationship between an elite player and a club will not happen again? Or that the career trajectory of an individual and a team don’t sync perfectly, with the former scoring the goals that help propel the latter into the top flight just in time to break his goalscoring record?
In all likelihood, however, many Premier League club goalscoring records are unlikely to be broken.
As you can see above, few clubs currently have a top scorer close to challenging their all-time goalscoring record.
Fulham are the closest to having a new record goalscorer, but Aleksandar Mitrovic still has 71 goals to go to match Gordon Davies’ tally. Mitrovic is 28 and time is running out.
Liverpool’s Mo Salah and Jamie Vardy at Leicester have healthy totals to their name, but with the important respective records of Ian Rush and Arthur Chandler to chase and, again, not aging on their side, a change of owner for the club record seems highly unlikely.
And spare a thought for Dominic Calvert-Lewin (or indeed any present or future Everton player), who has the toughest challenge in the top flight to break Dixie Dean’s Toffees all-time record.
Even if the 25-year-old plays another decade (including this season), he would need to average around 32 goals per campaign to come close to Dean’s 383. He has only managed to double the numbers so far in his career.
So which players have the best chance of breaking their current club’s goalscoring record?
The criteria are pretty obvious – they must have demonstrable talent and time on their side.
A certain amount of educated guesswork is required – with some players needing a much bigger leap of faith than others – but below are the players best placed to try to break their current club record and what what they should do to get there.
We have given each of the players until the season they turn 35 to reach the required number.
As you can see, some of the suggestions are a shot (fitness permitting), some have serious work to do, and some are just wishful thinking.
Haaland deserves further investigation, however.
His 31 goals for Manchester City have come in just 26 games. If he continues at this rate, he should score the 230 goals he needs to surpass Sergio Aguero’s record of 260 in around 193 games.
Even though Haaland only plays 40 games per campaign, he would become City’s top scorer around 10 games in the 2027-28 season. He will be 27 years old.
Rashford is another to mention after a recent hot streak in front of goal which saw him score 10 goals in as many games since the World Cup in Qatar.
He still has 141 goals to go to match Rooney’s Manchester United goalscoring record, but at 25 he still has time on his side and is unlikely to leave his home club any time soon.
As for Kane, since he properly established himself in the Tottenham squad in 2014-15, he has averaged 30 goals per season in his completed campaigns so far.
If (and okay, that’s a big if) he matches that tally every season until he reaches the one in which he turns 35, the next player who wants to break Spurs’ goalscoring record should score 458 goals!
There’s a very good chance that Kane will also take another record from Greaves if he manages such a goal – surpassing the 1966 World Cup winner’s tally of 357 in England’s top flight.