Ronaldo V Messi- Who actually is the greatest? (Video)

It is a question that has been the centre of various debates. Ronaldo is too greedy, Messi can’t score with his head, Ronaldo has only 1 Ballon d’Or against Messi’s 3. So who is the greatest?

Lionel Messi joined Barcelona at the age of 13 from his previous club, Newells Old Boys. In fact, Messi stated that the reason why he joined Barcelona was that they were the only club willing to pay for the growth hormone treatment he needed. Messi progressed through the youth ranks at Barcelona before making his debut for Barcelona C in 2003. He scored 5 goals in 8 games before moving into the Barcelona B side in 2004, where he scored 6 in 22 games split over 2 seasons. However, before playing for both of these teams, Messi made his first team debut in October 2003 in a Friendly match against Porto.  Frank Rijkaard gave him his first competitive start for Barcelona RCD Espanyol in 2004 aged just 17 years old. He scored his first competitive goal against Albacete Balompie aged 17 years, 10 months and 7 days old.

Remarkably, Cristiano Ronaldo also suffered health problems as a youth which nearly forced him to give up football. After playing for amateur team Andorinha and local team Nacional, Sporting CP saw enough potential in him to sign the then 12 year old. At the age of 15, medical staff at the club were made aware of Ronaldo’s “racing heart”, a condition which made his heart beat exceed the normal range. After surgery, Ronaldo made a full comeback and became the first Sporting CP player to play for the under 16s, under 17, under 18, B team and the first team all in one season, an incredible rise. Ronaldo scored 2 goals on his league debut in 2002 against Moreirense, and it was this which first caught Arsene Wenger’s attention, and then Alex Ferguson, with the latter offering a greater package to join Manchester United after the 2002-03 season. Ronaldo began to really shine during the 2006-07 season, where he broke the 20 league goal barrier, and was hugely successful thereafter. So much so, that on 26 June 2009, Real Madrid agreed to sign Ronaldo for £80 million, making him the most expensive footballer in history.

To date, Lionel Messi has scored 253 goals in 329 games for Barcelona in all competitions, with 102 assists. Ronaldo by contrast has scored 269 goals in 467 games played at Sporting, Manchester United and Real Madrid, with 87 assists. In terms of goals to game ratio, Lionel Messi’s stats are clearly greater (0.77 goals p/game to Ronaldos 0.56 goals per game ratio). However, what arguably is the difference is that Messi has been a part of what is believed to be the greatest club side to date in world football.  Perhaps what is fairer is to compare the performance of both players in La Liga. In the 3 seasons Ronaldo has been at Madrid, he has scored 112 in 101 games (1.11 goals per game), with 29 assists. In total, Messi has scored 169 in 214 (0.79 goals per game), with 72 assists. Of the 3 years, Messi has 115 goals in 105 appearances (1.1 goals per game). Now you can see the problem; it’s too close to call!

For International appearances, it’s obvious that Messi has a lot less impact on his Argentinian team than for the Catalans. He has scored 26 in 70, and has failed to live up to the extremely high expectations for his national team. This however may be changing. On Saturday 9th June 2012, Messi scored a hat trick for Argentina in a 4-3 friendly win against Brazil. That means he has scored 8 in his last 4 for Argentina, and he is starting to find the kind of form which has made him a hero for Barcelona. Ronaldo while playing for his homeland Portugal has scored 35 in 95, which is a great achievement due to the lack of world class players who are in the Portugal squad. He scored 5 goals in Portugal’s Euro 2012 qualifiers, and a further 3 goals at the tournament, including a double against some peoples favourites the Netherlands.

Personally, my belief is that Messi for Barcelona is a greater player than Ronaldo is at Madrid. However, I truly believe that if Messi was playing for any other team in the World, his achievements at Barcelona would not be replicated; take for example his appearances for Argentina. He is playing in a system which is completely suited for him, and with players such as Xavi and Iniesta around him, is able to be so successful. Ronaldo has proven he is one of the greatest players both in the Premier League at Manchester United and in the La Liga for Madrid, which are accepted to be the two greatest leagues. If Lionel Messi was to have a successful tournament during the World Cup at Brazil in 2014, especially if they go on to win it, I think it would be fair to then say that Lionel Messi is the greatest footballer to have played the game. Especially if he scores a header too!

Gavin Beard

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