The ongoing discussion among football fans and personalities the world over was joined by Paris Saint-Germain's new midfielder David Beckham on Friday, as he claimed Leo Messi was better than Cristiano Ronaldo.
They have similarities in their technical skills and talent, and it is amazing for football to have them both present, but Messi is simply the best player in the world. He [Messi] is alone in his class as a player, it is impossible that there is another like him. He, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who is not at his level, are both above the rest.
The Real Madrid and Barcelona forwards have drawn comparisons and plaudits from all over the game over the past couple of years as they dominate both headlines and goalscoring charts in La Liga.
Naturally, fans from either side are quick to claim that their own player is the better. Some point to Messi's multiple Ballon d'Or victories as proof of his higher level, while others believe Ronaldo's exploits from a slightly more withdrawn and less central role are worthy of recognition, too.
Beckham himself recently got a close-up view of Messi's talents. He was part of the PSG side who were overcome by Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal. PSG led the tie on aggregate until Messi's introduction as substitute, before he was involved in the goal which saw Pedro send Barca through.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, was instrumental in Real Madrid's own victory at the same stage of the competition against Galatasaray.
Former Real Madrid midfielder Beckham is not the only one to have spoken about the two in recent times, with the likes of Diego Maradona and Wayne Rooney both taking the Argentine's side of the vote. Said Maradona (via Yahoo!): "Ronaldo is a wonderful player. He is in a fantastic shape, but Messi is still better, even after the defeat of his club."
Messi's teammate Gerard Pique also believes Messi has the edge—and he is far from alone in his view. Rooney (givemefootball.com) stated he believed Messi is not just the better player, but the best one.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, has similarly praised Messi as being the best—but that's the Brazilian former international striker Ronaldo, of course, not Cristiano!
Ronaldo played for both Real and Barca during his days, but he didn't let international rivalries stand in the way of his opinion. From givemefootball.com:
Messi is a little above Cristiano Ronaldo, I give preference to Messi, because he's a player who fascinates us more, who shows more creativity. Even though he's from Argentina, which has a big rivalry with Brazil!
The views don't go all Messi's way, though, with plenty of other players happy to point out that the Real Madrid No. 7 deserves plenty of praise himself.
Current Real teammate Kaka, for starters, believes Cristiano is the better player out of the two (via ESPN).
Messi is extraordinary. To say who is the best player in the world is relative because a lot depends on what you do for the collective. He and Cristiano are the best in the world, but in today's game, in the modern game, Cristiano is the most complete player in the world. Cristiano can score goals with his left, with his right, with his head and from set-pieces. Messi is excellent with all the great things he has, but Cristiano is a more complete player than him.
Patrice Evra of Manchester United, a former teammate of Ronaldo, also believes that the Portuguese attacker is the top player—while Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale, a rumoured transfer target of Real Madrid, must have made a good impression on his prospective employers by naming Ronaldo as the more well-rounded individual (via goal.com):
For me, personally, I’d say Ronaldo. He’s got the whole package. He’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s pacey, can head the ball, strike the ball. Obviously, you can’t say anything bad about Messi, but for the all-round complete footballer, I’d say Cristiano Ronaldo.
One day, perhaps the matter will be settled once and for all, or perhaps the two camps will just appreciate that the game is plenty big enough for two outrageous talents. But for the rest of the watching world, David Beckham included, it seems that the debate will continue to draw in opinion and argument in equal measure.