The Messi-CR7 superiority debate and impact on football landscape

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By Victor Akuma

Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?

You must have heard that heated conversation severally, if you’re a football fan.

Rivalry and polarity of views among football fans as to which player is the best is not new.

Right from the early days of Jean-Pierre Papin of Marseille, George Weah of Milan and Luís Figo of Real Madrid, the history of football has been marked by debates.

It’s not likely to stop, even in decades to come.

Never was it heard that a single player was crowned the best player of the year for four consecutive times with no bridging, in fact, after Michel Platini of Juventus, who won the Ballon d’or title (then called European Footballer of the Year award) 3 times; in 1983, 1984 and 1985, only Johan Cruyff of Barcelona, 1973 – 1974, Kevin Keegan of Hamburg, 1978 – 1979, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge of Bayern Munich, 1980 – 1981 and Marco van Basten of Milan, 1988 – 1989, won the award consecutively twice each.

But in the recent times, the round leather ball game has witnessed a remarkable paradigm shift from the what we’ve been used to for years among fans.

For many football fans in contemporary times, convincing the world why their preferred player or team is the best in the world is a fight to finish.

The implication of this have been deep-rooted division, flaring of emotions and disruption of the hitherto bond football has been known for, for years.

Enter the Messi-Ronaldo superiority debacle.

Unarguably, the two players are among the greatest the planet has seen. Their stats, individual talents, achievements, consistency among others show their uniqueness.

The duo have dominated the game for 12 years — arguably the longest stretch in the history of the football.

Unfortunately, the two players have left football fans more divided than ever.

However, there’s no gainsaying that the two players have also raised the bar of execllence in the football landscape. Their beautiful playing days will be remembered for years to come for the numerous achievements.

Yet, such comparisons, as we have been witnessing since 2008, could gravely affect the post Messi-CR7 era.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi is the present defender of Ballon d’or otherwise called the world best player award, a record he has broken six times. He currently stands as the only player who have received the award for six times in the entire history of the title, from 1956 to date.

Messi’s footballing career started in 1995 at Newell’s Old Boys, where he played until the year 2000. At the age of 13, Lionel Messi crossed the Atlantic to try his luck in Barcelona, and joined the Under 14s. Messi made spectacular progress at each of the different age levels, climbing through the ranks to Barca C, followed by Barca B and the first team in record time. His first match for Barcelona was on the 16th of March, 2004.

Since then, the Argentine has racked up a total of 718 match appearances for Barca, with 627 goals and 262 assists — a record no contemporary player has come close to defeat, not even Cristiano Ronaldo his rival achieved such feet at his 700th March appearances. In 2012, He netted 91 goals in all competitions.

Messi in addition to his six-times Ballon d’or titles, has over 94 awards, including; Olimpia de Plata award, FIFA The Best 2019, Spanish League Top Scorer 2019 and Champions League Golden Boot awards.

Messi currently stands as the only player who has won the Ballon d’or titles 4 consecutive times, one would wonder how much work thousands of players out there are putting to compete with this man. Messi’s football career been very smooth largely due to talent and hardwok.

He is rumoured to be considering retiring from professional football in 2021.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Serie A club Juventus and captains the Portugal national team. He is currently the only player who is believed to be giving Lionel Messi a hard time in terms of popularity and performance in the world’s most popular game.

It has been argued by different football pundits and fanatics that CR7 as he is fundly called is better than Messi when compared, probably because he has played for more clubs than the Argentine has and has proven himself according to records, in all the clubs.

Ronaldo has won 29 trophies in his career, including six league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues, one UEFA European Championship, and one UEFA Nations League.

Ronaldo holds the records for the most goals scored in the UEFA Champions League (128) and the joint-most goals scored in the UEFA European Championship (9). He is one of the few recorded players to have made over 1,000 professional career appearances and has scored over 700 senior career goals for clubs and country.

The Portuguese started his clubside football with Sporting CP B, 2002–2003 with 2 appearances and no goal, he was later promoted to the Club’s first team same season and scored 3 times in 25 appearances. He later joined Manchester United, 2003–2009, scoring 84 goals in 196 matches, he also was awarded his first Ballon d’or title with the club in 2008. In 2009, CR7 left Manchester United for Real Madrid. There he netted 312 goals in 292 match appearances and from Real Madrid, he joined Juventus in 2018, scoring 42 goals in 53 appearances for the German side. Ronaldo has won the world best player of the year for five times, three out of which was won consecutively by him.

Cristiano Ronaldo has received over 74 awards, including his Ballon d’or titles

From the analysis above, it has proven that these two footballers presently are the best among their equals in the game. They have dominated the football world since 2008 till date, banging in the goals with such ease that many often wonder if they were born with it. From the year 2008, these two names (Messi and Ronaldo) have been on the Ballon d’or radar, except for 2018 when Luka Modrić was given the title.

Considering all these, it has been a disturbing puzzle why these players will have to dominate football for such a long time with no tougher set of players disposing them. Football lovers have equally raised an eyebrow on what football will be like if these two hang the boot, with Messi already hinting he might be quiting professional football come 2021.

However, this is not to say that there are no wonderful players in the football world. A whole lot of them exist including Jadon Sancho, Kilian Mbappe, Neymar Jr, Luiz Suárez, Mohammed Salah and a lot more.

The Messi-CR7 era has brought class and unarguably shattered global football’s glass ceiling. However, the controversies ignited among their individuals fans as to who is the greatest has done more harm than good to football.

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