With the year coming to an end, it is time to judge who the elite scorers in world soccer were in 2011. With goals in league, cupsand international play taken into consideration, these were the most efficient and valuable strikers for their teams during the last year.
Robin Van Persie
Robin Van Persie has shown in 2011 what he is capable of when not held back by injuries. He is the top scorer in the English Premier League with 15 goals and could set a new league record for goals in a calendar year if he continues his top form.
Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez
Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez has a nose for the net, with 13 goals in his superb debut season with Manchester United. He has six goals already in the 2011-12 season, despite being slowed by injuries. More importantly perhaps, he scored seven goals in six matches during the Gold Cup to help lead Mexico to the CONCACAF title.
Cristiano Ronaldo continues to prove he is one of the best players in the world, and he is certainly the top scorer. He has 36 goals already in the second half of 2011, including five with the Portuguese national team. The Real Madrid striker won the 2010-11 Pichichi (leading scorer in Spain's La Liga) with 40 goals.
Lionel Messi continues to be the best in the world, with 31 league goals last season and 17 so far in the 2011-12 season. Although Ronaldo overshadows him with goals overall, Messi made his impact felt with his national team, scoring three goals for Argentina in 2011.
Luis Suarez makes this list more for his performance with Uruguay's national team than for his good work with Liverpool. His six goals in the Copa America made him the top scorer in the tournament and helped Uruguay become champions of South America. Suarez continued his great form with four goals against Chile in World Cup qualifying.
Gonzalo Higuain is finally proving he can score when it counts, becoming one of Real Madrid's most consistent scorers and the top scorer for the Argentinean national team. He has 12 goals so far in La Liga and eight goals with the national team in 2011.
Antonio Di Natale
Lost in the shadows of Serie A, Antonio Di Natale has dominated the Italian league with 28 goals in 2010-11 and 10 more in 2011-12. The Italian veteran is playing the best soccer of his career, although his scoring prowess has yet to translate to the national team.
If the comparisons between Bayern Munich and Barcelona are to be believed, then Mario Gomez deserves to be compared to Lionel Messi. Gomez was the top scorer in Germany's Bundesliga last year with 28 goals. Perhaps more importantly, he has been consistent during the UEFA Champions League, with eight goals in the 2010-11 tournament and six already in the 2011-12 tournament.
The newest Brazilian superstar, Neymar, has helped to bring the Brazilian club Santos back to the international scene. Neymar had 15 goals with Santos in 2011 and — more impressively — 16 goals with Brazil's national teams, including a superb, nine-goal performance during the U-20 South American tournament.
And finally, Radamel Falcao dominated Europe last year with 33 goals in the Portuguese League and the UEFA Europa League combined, helping Porto win both competitions. Falcao was not as successful with the Colombian national team (two goals in the Copa America), but the striker has had no troubles adapting to his new team, Atletico Madrid, scoring nine goals in thirteen matches.
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