Debates dominate the sports world.
Magic vs. Bird. Nadal vs. Federer. In the world of European soccer, two brilliant players have been distancing themselves from the rest of the competition. The Portugal native, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Argentinian Lionel Messi have taken the game by storm in nearly unprecedented ways.
The two have churned out enough virtuoso performances in their still relatively young careers to be doubly considered legends of the game. But who has achieved more success? Who is truly the best player in the world?
Lionel Messi - Tommy Christie
As far as I’m concerned, this is an easy debate to settle. Messi will go down as the greatest player to ever lace them up. Ronaldo is a fabulous soccer player blessed with a tremendous combination of skill, speed and tireless work ethic. Despite Ronaldo’s sustained success though, I don’t believe his overall resume stacks up with Leo’s.
For one, Lionel Messi has, is, and may always be a significantly better teammate and playmaker than Ronaldo. Though Messi may benefit from Barcelona’s distinct pass-happy style of play, he has out-assisted Ronaldo over the past four club seasons 82-48. Bottom line, Messi is a visionary playmaker capable of slicing through any defense with his precise distribution.
Though Ronaldo may have scored more career goals than Messi, he’s got another year of professional experience on his resume. The fact of the matter is that Messi, just this past season, set the new mark for goals scored in a European campaign with 73. Ronaldo pumped in 55. As a 24-year-old, Messi also broke the Barcelona all-time scoring mark.
For three straight years, Messi has been the recipient of the prestigious Ballon d’ Or, which recognizes the best player in Europe. Ronaldo meanwhile has finished second, third, and second, respectively, in the voting process. If things continue to pan out as they have been, Messi will be awarded an unprecedented fourth trophy.
I continue to tell my friends we’re watching the greatest of all time here. He is becoming as his former coach Pepe Guardiola aptly noted, “the Michael Jordan of soccer.” If Messi keeps up this silly pace for another five or so seasons, he may indeed go down as the greatest soccer player of all time. As for being better than Cristiano Ronaldo? Case closed.