Lampard, Gerrard, Ronaldinho: Who are the highest-scoring midfielders of the 21st century?

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Frank Lampard is one of the greatest footballers of all time.

That might seem like quite a dramatic statement and don't get me wrong, we're not saying that he's competing in the GOAT debate itself, but there's no denying that he's a footballing legend.

Besides, say what you want about his standing in the infamous debate against Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard, Lampard revolutionised the game when it came to goal-scoring from midfield.

Lampard's astonishing goal-scoring

Well, to be more precise, he took the scoring exploits of his midfield forebearers and turned it up to 11, becoming the most prolific player in the history of the position according to sources like The Sun.

We are, after all, talking about the greatest goalscorer in Chelsea history and somebody whose Premier League tally can only be topped by Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney, Andy Cole and Sergio Aguero.

Those two facts alone are staggering for somebody who never played as an out-and-out striker, but make no mistake that Lampard's potency from midfield had a global impact on the game, too.

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Highest-scoring midfielders

And that leads us nicely onto statistics released by Transfermarkt this week, outlining the most prolific midfielders of the 21st century with a top 20 that makes for impressive reading for Lampard.

So, now that Lampard's goal-scoring brilliance from midfield is fresh in your mind, be sure to check out who has come closest to challenging his throne since 2000 down below:

20. Ola Toivonen - 117 goals in 397 games

=18. James Rodriguez - 122 goals in 439 games

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=18. Wesley Sneijder - 122 goals in 504 games

17. Kevin De Bruyne - 127 goals in 555 games

16. Steffen Hoffman - 128 goals in 541 games

15. Bryan Ruiz - 132 goals in 527 games

14. Gini Wijnaldum - 135 goals in 621 games

13. Arturo Vidal - 136 goals in 682 games

12. Cesc Fabregas - 138 goals in 812 games 

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11. Juan Mata - 139 goals in 617 games

10. Christian Eriksen - 142 goals in 618 games

9. Marek Hamsik - 147 goals in 645 games

8. David Silva - 148 goals in 778 games

7. Kaka - 161 goals in 515 games

6. Michael Ballack - 169 goals in 565 games

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5. Ronaldinho - 169 goals in 458 games 

4. Marco Reus - 187 goals in 452 games

3. Rafael van der Vaart - 194 goals in 623 games

2. Steven Gerrard - 206 goals in 794 games

1. Frank Lampard - 261 goals in 843 games

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Lampard's goal-scoring greatness

There's no shortage of legends, is there?

It's a massive victory for English football to see two of their finest midfielders taking the top two spots, particularly when Ballon d'Or winners like Ronaldinho and Kaka are hot on their trail.

But once you zoom out and really look at the figures, you start to gain a greater appreciation for Lampard's ground-breaking achievements because his lead at the top is nothing short of staggering.

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The former Chelsea manager is no less than 55 strikes clear of his compatriot, while the likes of Silva, Mata and Fabregas can't even get within 100 goals of the top dog.

It's a remarkable set of statistics that, in our minds, ought to increase Lampard's standing in a series of debates where he is so often underrated. Besides, goals win games and 261 make for a hatful.

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