A club’s all-time goalscoring record is one of the most significant milestones on its honours list, often receiving the most attention when it is broken.
Some such records have stood for more than 100 years, while a handful have been broken this century, with Harry Kane the latest man to carve his name into his club’s history.
On Sunday, the 29-year-old scored his 267th Tottenham goal in the win over Manchester City, taking him past the tally of fellow England forward Jimmy Greaves.
But what of the rest of the English top-flight clubs and their all-time scoring record? Which players currently hold them, how close are they to being broken and who might become new record holders?
First, some clarity on the numbers.
As reported in the Times recently, discrepancies are a pitfall when discussing the subject of club record goalscorers, partly as a result of the Football Association not keeping complete official records.
We are, therefore, reliant on other sources to provide us with the stats, chiefly the clubs themselves and unofficial authorities such as the English National Football Archive.
This brings up an issue with Greaves’ goal tally, which Spurs set at 266 but did not include his two scored in Charity (now called Community) Shield matches.
In comparison, the 253 goals netted by Wayne Rooney and recognised as the Manchester United goalscoring record do include those in Charity/Community Shield games (he scored one), as do the records of Frank Lampard with a Chelsea high of 211 (one), Ian Rush’s Liverpool best of 346 (three) and others.
For the purposes of this piece and consistency with our reporting on Kane, we are sticking to Spurs’ interpretation of the record.
|Nottingham Forest||Grenville Morris||217||459||January 1903|
|Brighton||Tommy Cook||123||209||December 1924|
|West Ham||Vic Watson||326||505||August 1925|
|Bournemouth||Ronnie Eyre||229||628||December 1925|
|Leicester||Arthur Chandler||273||419||January 1926|
|Everton||Dixie Dean||383||433||April 1928|
|Crystal Palace||Peter Simpson||165||195||January 1931|
|Aston Villa||Billy Walker||244||531||November 1932|
|Brentford||Jim Towers||163||282||October 1959|
|Leeds||Peter Lorimer||238||707||March 1973|
|Southampton||Mick Channon||228||602||September 1976|
|Fulham||Gordon Davies||178||450||February 1989|
|Wolves||Steve Bull||306||561||March 1992|
|Liverpool||Ian Rush||346||660||October 1992|
|Arsenal||Thierry Henry||228||376||October 2005|
|Newcastle||Alan Shearer||206||405||March 2006|
|Chelsea||Frank Lampard||211||648||May 2013|
|Manchester United||Wayne Rooney||253||559||January 2017|
|Manchester City||Sergio Aguero||260||390||November 2017|
|Tottenham||Harry Kane||267||416||January 2023|
As you can see from the dates on the above records, a player becoming their club’s all-time goalscorer is a rare accomplishment and even more so in the transient, uneven world of modern football.
Only six of the men who currently hold a Premier League club’s top tally achieved it this century, with eight records having stood since before the start of World War Two.
It is no mystery as to why this is the case. In general, players simply do not stay at clubs as long as they once did, especially those of high goalscoring calibre playing outside the division’s ‘big six’ clubs.
Interestingly but not surprisingly, five of the six records broken this century have come at one of Premier League’s established elite sides – those with the clout and financial muscle to hold on to the best strikers for a prolonged period.
There will, of course, always be exceptions. Alan Shearer – the one man to break a non-‘big six’ club goalscoring record this century – moved to and stayed at Newcastle because of his personal affinity to his hometown club.
And who’s to say such a relationship between an elite player and club won’t arise again? Or that the career trajectory of an individual and team do not sync up perfectly, with the former scoring the goals that help fire the latter into the top-flight just in time for him to break their goals record?
In all likelihood, though, many of the current Premier League club goalscoring records are unlikely to be beaten.
As you can see above, few clubs have a current top goalscorer anywhere close to challenging their all-time goals record.
Fulham are the closest to having a new record scorer, but Aleksandar Mitrovic still has 71 goals to score to match the tally of Gordon Davies. Mitrovic is 28 years old and so the clock is ticking.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Jamie Vardy at Leicester have healthy totals to their name, but with the sizable respective records of Ian Rush and Arthur Chandler to chase down and, again, age not on their side, a change of ownership for the club record looks highly unlikely.
And spare a thought for Dominic Calvert-Lewin (or indeed any Everton player present or future), who has the toughest challenge in the top flight to beat the all-time Toffees record of Dixie Dean.
Even if the 25-year-old plays for another decade (including this season), he would need to average around 32 goals a campaign to get close to Dean’s 383. He’s only managed double figures twice so far in his career.
So which players have a better chance of breaking their current club’s all-time goalscoring record?
The criteria are fairly 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 have a go at breaking their current club’s record and what they would need to do to achieve it.
We’ve given each of the players until the season in which they turn 35 years old to reach the number required.
|Team||Player||Club goals||Current club record||Avg goals per season required|
|Aston Villa||Ollie Watkins||33||227||21.55|
|Brighton||Alexis Mac Allister||15||123||9|
|Crystal Palace||Wilfried Zaha||89||165||12.67|
|Manchester City||Erling Haaland||31||260||16.36|
|Manchester United||Marcus Rashford||112||253||12.82|
|Nottingham Forest||Brennan Johnson||26||217||12.73|
|West Ham||Jarrod Bowen||34||326||24.33|
As you can see, some of the suggestions are in with a shot (fitness permitting), some have some serious work to do and others are just wishful thinking.
Haaland is worthy of further investigation, though.
His 31 goals for Manchester City have come in just 26 games. If he carries on at this rate, he should score the 230 goals he needs to surpass Sergio Aguero’s record of 260 in roughly 193 games.
Even if Haaland only plays in 40 games a campaign, he would become City’s record goalscorer about 10 games into the 2027-28 season. He’ll be 27 years old.
Rashford is another to mention off the back of a recent hot streak in front of goal that has seen him net 10 goals in as many games since the World Cup in Qatar.
He still has 141 goals to score to reach Rooney’s Manchester United goals record but at 25 he still has time on his side and presumably little inclination to leave his hometown club anytime soon.
As for Kane, since properly establishing himself in the Tottenham side in 2014-15, he has averaged 30 goals a season in his completed campaigns to date.
If (and granted it is a big if) he matches this tally in every season until he reaches the one in which he is 35, the next player who wants to break the Spurs goalscoring record would need to net a whopping 458 goals!
There’s a very good chance that Kane may also take another record from Greaves if he manages such a haul – by surpassing the 1966 World Cup winner’s overall English top-flight goals tally of 357.