No topic commands the attention of football fans like that of the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi debate. The two icons were the dominant players of the just concluded decade with the two scoring over 700 goals in the last decade.
To put into context, Messi and Ronaldo scored more goals than Manchester United, Spurs, while they scored as many league goals as Arsenal last decade.
— PB (@OliPriceBates) December 30, 2019
The two football gods have separated themselves from the rest, and that is why they won almost all the individual awards last decade.
The two greats shared the 11 Ballon d’Or awards between 2008 and 2020 with Messi winning six, and Ronaldo winning five. 2018 was the only year neither went home with the prize.
Although there are no arguments that they are a level above their peers, there has been a continuous debate on who is better among the two. It is an argument that has divided the football fandom.
Nevertheless, looking at their styles over the years, it will not be out of place to say Messi is the better player in terms of talents. The Argentine makes things that seem impossible look ordinary, and also creates magic every time he’s on the ball.
The Barcelona superstar versatility is also another reason why he is a better player than his longtime rival. He has shown he can play in all areas upfield.
The 32-year-old brilliance is so good that he was not only the top scorer of 2010, but he also provided the most assists of the last decade. However, while Messi may be the best player of his generation, Ronaldo is the greatest.
Watching Messi play, it is easy to say he is better than all other players on the pitch, but greatness in football transcends what happens just on the field, and that’s why this writer believes Ronaldo is the greatest of his generation.
For example in tennis, Roger Federer is considered the “Greatest Of All Time” for not just having the most grand slam titles, but also for the way he transformed tennis, his brand, and his large cult following.
Ronaldo himself is a brand, having a range of collections which ranges from hotels, colognes and underwear. The Portugal star also has the perfect image which endears him to fans, especially girls.
Recently it was revealed that the Portugal star was the highest-earning celebrity on Instagram in 2019. According to ESPN, the Juventus striker earned more for just posting on Instagram, than he did from playing football last year.
While the writer is not saying Messi isn’t great off the pitch, Ronaldo’s greatness is superior to that of his arch-rival. The Portugal star’s influence among players is also noticeable, and this could be seen with players copying his “Si” celebration.
This season James Ward Prowse copied the “Si” celebration after scoring against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium. In a preseason match between Juventus and K-league all-stars last July, players from K-league side were seeing doing the celebration after scoring a goal with Ronaldo watching from the bench.
This is the kind of influence the Portugal captain has on his fellow professionals. The 34-year-old is the most followed player on Facebook and Instagram, while he’s also the football star with most endorsement deals according to Forbes ($44m)- almost 10m than Messi, and 15m than Neymar.
Brands will not pay that much for his if he’s influence is not that big off the pitch. The fact that he has also played and won in three of Europe’s major league also contributes to the claim.
The 34-year-old won leagues in England, Spain and Juventus, while he also won the champions league during his time at United (1) and Madrid (4).
While Messi can lay claim to the best player of his generation, Ronaldo is the greatest player in the modern era because “greatness” transcends what happens on the pitch.
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