Cristiano Ronaldo vs Messi: Who's the Best Football Player Ever?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Messi: Who's the Best Football Player Ever?

Sep 20, 2021, 1:41:09 AM Sport

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and it has arguably the best players. For decades, we’ve watched and debated who is the best soccer player in the world: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? They are both prolific scorers and amazing athletes. Their trophy cabinets show how successful they have been in their respective careers. But obviously, we have to decide only one winner.

Here, are some stats to help you decide who is better between them all-time.


Goals and Assists

You could argue that there isn’t much of a difference between them when it comes to goals and assists. These are basic skills like dribbling and passing. There are players who might make more goals and assists than both of them but it’s not very common.

Messi and Ronaldo are often criticized for not creating many goal-scoring opportunities for others. Their skills on offense might make the difference between winning the league or not, and that’s not a bad thing. But their skills on defense are also impressive. It is fact that their defending skill contributes a lot to the team. They both do the majority of their work in midfield and defense, while their goals and assists mostly come from the attack.


Ball Control

Ball control is one of the most critical aspects of a soccer player’s game. A well-placed pass can often lead to a goal and, as an integral part of the team’s game, ball control is essential for every team.

No wonder Ronaldo is the highest-paid soccer player in the world, with an annual salary of over $75 million. Messi is the high scorer in the history of La Liga. His professional career started when he was 15, so he is still in his prime at 33. Ronaldo moved to Sporting Lisbon at 15 years old and then to Manchester United two years later. He spent six years in Manchester, winning three Premier League titles. In 2007, he moved to Real Madrid and won his first La Liga title in 2009.



When the big question is asked, “who is better defensively,” the answer has always been Lionel Messi. Despite having played the position of goalkeeper for many of his Barcelona matches, when he plays as a striker, he will do everything in his power to protect the goal from danger. Ronaldo plays as a defensive midfielder but will still be putting his body on the line when he has to.

Both players are great at shielding their team’s backline and getting forward in time to make a difference. It’s really a matter of preference.


Styles of Play

The biggest thing is that both of these players are so different from each other that it really isn’t easy to compare them. Ronaldo, like most players who make it to the top, is aggressive and driven to score goals. Ronaldo is the bigger, stronger, more aggressive of the two. Both have fairly good long-range shots. Ronaldo, especially, likes to shoot from long range. He has great footwork. He also likes to go back and forth and pull the ball off the ground to get it moving.

Messi isn't much similar to Cristiano in this scenario. He’s not as aggressive, but more reactive. Messi has a great first touch, but his second touch doesn’t always come as quickly as Ronaldo’s.


Ronaldo was a PSG forward who has moved to his former club Manchester United. Since 2003, he’s been a mainstay for Real Madrid, scoring 512 goals in 591 appearances. Ronaldo holds the all-time record for most goals in the Champions League, with 107 goals. Ronaldo has also scored a whopping 450 goals in 490 games for Portugal, giving him the most goals in any European country. His total with his national team is a whopping 119 goals, making him one of the highest-scoring soccer players in history.

Messi was a Barcelona forward who has now moved to PSG. Since 2002, he’s been a mainstay for Barcelona, scoring 456 goals in 590 appearances. He holds the all-time record for most goals in La Liga, with 236. Messi has also scored 125 goals in 144 matches for Argentina, giving him the most goals in any South American country.



Not surprisingly, most of these answers are conflicting. But what’s important is to realize that a comparison between players should focus on their overall qualities and not the superficial details that don’t really matter. Don’t forget, when you’re a high-level soccer player, you have to do everything to maximize your abilities. And that includes maximizing the things that aren’t always so obvious.

As you can see, there is really no question that the two players are quite different. The debate about who is better, however, will probably never end, and this is because there are just so many factors to consider.

So even if you can’t find the answer, you still have to try to put yourself in the shoes of the players and try to answer the question for yourself.

Published by Anita Stuartz

Written by Anita Stuartz


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