Messi broke this season all time world record of goal scoring for a club, 73. How does this compare to other high goal scoring seasons of past greats? 67 Gerd Müller 72-73 was a European record for 39 years before Messi broke it. Pelé’s best goal scoring season was 1958 when he scored 66 goals.
But which of these incredible goal scoring seasons is the best one? Like, first glance you would say Pele’s and Müller’s seasons were better, because they played less games and had better goals per game ratio:
Messi 73/60 = 1,22 goals per game
Müller 67/49 = 1,37 goals per game
Pelé 66/46 = 1,43 goals per game
But then again, back then scoring was more of a premium than preventing goals, than nowadays. So it was easier to score on average and goals were scored in higher averages. Goal scoring averages per game in competitions which they played:
Pele 3,53 goals per game
Müller’s 3,51 goals per game
Messi’s 2,81 goals per game
So how do you measure so different situations, so different times? One viable method to examine these is the so called era adjusting, used widely also in sports, to compare goal totals in different eras. It basicly takes into account both of the previous arguments, goal scoring averages, and amount of games played.
First you take the average number of goals scored in the particular competitions players played, and compare them to the particular player. From this you get the era adjustment ratio. Then you compare the amount of games played, which you get the schedule adjustment ratio. The overall ratio you get when you multiply: era adjustment ratio x schedule ratio.
The adjustment shows how much better you were than the average goal scorer at the time, and with that comparison Messi’s 73 goals in 60 games is more impressive, or further away from the average, than example Pele’s 66 goals in 46 games. In this table we have era adjusted statistics of Messi’s, Müller’s and Pelé’s best goal scoring seasons:
Notes, data and calculations: