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Ronaldo v Messi

Ronaldo v Messi


Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to the Premier League with Manchester United was bound to get the conversation about who, really, can claim the GOAT (greatest of all time) title.


Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker. 

One story every day to make sense of the world of football. 

Today, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher re-open the Messi versus Ronaldo debate.

I’m going to start this episode with a question.

What’s the link between Ronaldo, Messi, and… Everton versus Burnley on a Monday night?

The answer is absolutely nothing.

But that didn’t stop Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher reigniting the age-old debate over which of these two incredible players is better before Monday’s match kicked off.

“There’s been a lot of fanfare with United in terms of ex-players and I think you just got a bit carried away there.”

“No, I don’t think you can say…you got carried away by saying there is no way he’s the greatest player of all-time… it’s definitely Messi…

“You’re using goals as your… he hasn’t scored more goals than Messi.

“No… there are a lot of people who believe Ronaldo is, there are a lot of people who believe Messi is. I would never say that someone who chose Messi is wrong. That’s their opinion.”

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, Sky Sports

It doesn’t take much to get people talking about who is the GOAT (that’s the greatest of all time) and Ronaldo’s return to the Premier League with Manchester United was bound to get the conversation going once again. 

Neville is firmly in the Ronaldo camp. 

I guess you could say that he is bound to be. After all, they are former team-mates.

“Suddenly red shirts flooding back – chance for Cristiano Ronaldo! 2-2. And Ronaldo becomes the first player to score at four different European Championship finals.”

BBC Sport commentary

Carragher will go to war over Messi.

He says Messi takes you to a place where you can’t actually believe what you’re seeing. 

“Messi… oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Just when you think he’s done everything… he comes up with something even more special. To catch Alisson out, and to make it 3-0. Well the fans are worshipping him. And you can understand why. He is a god of the game. The god of the game.”

Martin Tyler

So, what are the arguments put forward for each player?

Well, fans of Ronaldo say that he’s scored more goals than Messi. He’s scored more with his wrong foot. He’s scored more headed goals than Messi. He’s the ultimate professional, having worked on his fitness to an almost superhuman level since his early days at United. 

He’s won more at international level. He’s won more Champions League trophies. He’s also played at the top level in England, Spain and Italy, whereas Messi, until recently, has only ever played for Barcelona. 

Messi fans say he’s got way more natural talent than Ronaldo. That he scores more beautiful goals. That he’s more entertainer than machine. Messi has also won more Ballon d’Or awards for Footballer of the Year.

“It has to be Ronaldo for me, I’ve been lucky enough to cover Portugal at major championships, see him at close quarters, see what an incredible trainer he is, see how he inspires his teammates. And if you look at him post-2014 World Cup, how he’s completely remodelled his game to stay relevant and stay at the very top of the game… is something else.

Andy Brassell, BT Sport

“For me there’s no debate, there’s never been. I think Messi is the man. The way I see it is that Ronaldo has been fantastic, amazing, but he had to work so hard to get where he was, where he is, where he will be because he’ll still have a few more years. I think Messi has a gift, he was just born with it… that was him and that’s why for me there will only be one GOAT and it will be Messi.”

Julian Laurens, BT Sport

Neville inevitably took some flak on Twitter after his pro-Ronaldo stance on Monday Night Football. 

He said he had some “weird” Messi fans on his timeline, and as always, those with extreme views can get pretty intense.

This debate can get totally out of hand. But the question is, do we really need to have it at all?

There’s such a huge temptation to become entrenched in your views in support of either one of these exceptional footballers. 

But neither of these players are going to last forever. Messi is 34. Ronaldo is 36. 

There’s a third argument to be had. That you can, in fact, enjoy watching and appreciate the talent of both. Before they’ve left the game altogether.

There’s often truth to be found in between the lines. 

Neville hit the nail on the head when he said that it’s not right to say one player is definitely better and that anyone who says otherwise is wrong. 

There’s so many different ways to frame the argument, and the type of player that you prefer to watch can’t be measured with a statistic. 

Yet for all that I’ve championed the middle ground on this argument, I know you’re all desperate for me to pick one. I personally like players who work hard and show a strong mindset on the pitch. So, for me, it’s Ronaldo. 

But if you like Messi… I’m not going to hold it against you.

Today’s episode was written by Chloe Beresford, and produced by Tom Kinsella.