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Who Really Is The best -- Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?

The football season may be over, but the debate continues – who is the best player in the world: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? With the...

The football season may be over, but the debate continues – who is the best player in the world: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? With the release of a new book on statistics, the numbers are in. Are you ready for the result?

To be honest, the hardest part of writing a book about Lionel Messi is proving that he really is better than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Although football is truly a much more scientific game than it used to be, us scribes still don't have a theory like Pythagoras which proves what we think we know. Put another way, I have the data which shows how special Messi is, but how can I weight it to suit me?

Let’s look at the two since Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid in 2009, the point where the pair shared the same league. At that stage, CR7 was 24, Messi had just turned 22. In the following years, Messi has made 422 appearances for Barcelona, Ronaldo has played 28 less. It’s an interesting antidote to the idea that the Portuguese has superior fitness to the Argentine because of his dedication in the gym.

How about the goals during that period - Ronaldo must be ahead, surely? Well, no. The man from Madeira has 406, while Rosario's finest is 21 ahead of that total. Some will say that his superior numbers are because Pep Guardiola decided to play Messi up front for three seasons. Hard to dispute, except that Ronaldo moved into a more orthodox forward role last season for Real and Messi still outscored him by 12. And that was from the right of a front three.
Who Really Is The best -- Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
Let’s talk trophies - the Argentine has added 30 significant trophies to his haul during the last eight years, including five league titles and just as many Ballon D'Ors. That’s 11 more than his great rival, who has the edge in Champions League titles (three to two).

No one doubts that Messi is more of a team player, but the extent of which is staggering - in those eight years that we've compared, he has 158 assists to Ronaldo's 111. It is perhaps in the field of international football where Ronaldo has the edge. His Portugal side won Euro 2016, with images of him cheering on his side after he was substituted because of injury earlier in the game, still fresh in the mind. In contrast, Messi has played in four major finals and lost them all.

But time is on his side. While Ronaldo is already 32, Messi turns 30 towards the end of this month, safe in the knowledge that there are perhaps two more World Cups that he can play in. And while the sands of time seem to have robbed the Portuguese of a yard of pace which will prove crucial in years to come, Messi's inclination to drop deeper and play in spaces where he can create danger means age will surely prove as dangerous to him as Premier League teams (he's beaten them all over two legs).

It stands to reason that, as I've written a book about Messi, I think he really is the best of the two and the best of all time, with goals, assists and trophies to back up my argument. But having written a few words about him, sometimes its best to leave the most fitting tributes to others. When he wasn't coach of the richest football team in the world, Zinedine Zidane was allowed opinions on things not pertaining to Real Madrid.

"He is always going forwards. He never passes the ball backwards or sideways. He has only one idea, to run towards the goal. So as a football fan, just enjoy the show." GQ Magazine
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