The accolades are flooding in for Cristiano Ronaldo.
"With his quality, what he stands for and his performance in every game, he can always win the Ballon d’Or," remarked Luis Figo this week, according to ESPN FC.
Arsene Wenger: This year, Cristiano Ronaldo has overtaken Messi. (as)— SocialRMadrid (@SocialRMadrid) November 12, 2013
Athletic, powerful, driven—at some point, as Martin Tyler pointed out nearly six years ago, you run out of superlatives.
The Sky play-by-play man's comment came just seconds after the then-Manchester United attacker had scored a spectacular free-kick goal against Portsmouth, which Tyler described by crying, "It gets even better for Cristiano Ronaldo!"
It does, indeed.
Later that spring, Ronaldo would help United to a Premier League and Champions League double, and the team accomplishments—coupled with his contribution of 42 goals—would win him the Ballon d’Or in December.
Just 23 years old at the time, there was every reason to believe the Portuguese marksman would claim the award again at some point in his career, and despite playing much of the last half-decade in the shadow of Lionel Messi, it seems he still might—perhaps as soon as January.
So far in this calendar year, Ronaldo has bagged 62 goals for club and country—17 more than Messi. And at club level, where Messi has averaged exactly a goal per game in 39 matches, Ronaldo has tallied 56 times in 47 appearances.
Cristiano Ronaldo has the same amount of league goals (16) as Lionel Messi & Zlatan Ibrahimović combined this season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 11, 2013
His 1.57 goals and assists rate per 90 minutes is also superior to Messi’s 1.55 in 2013, and over the course of his Madrid career, he has never lost a league match in which he has found the back of the net.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo (1.57) has better goals+assists per 90 minutes than Messi (1.55) in year 2013. (@BarcaStat)— Cristiano Ronaldo (@CristianoStats) November 11, 2013
Ronaldo's rampant scoring pace since arriving in the Spanish capital has also broken records and put him on course to shatter others.
Currently on 163 Primera Division goals (Messi has scored 169 times in the league over the same period of time), the 28-year-old will match the legendary Hugo Sanchez with his next tally—putting Madrid's top-three goalscorers in history (Santillana, Alfredo Di Stefano and Raul) within his sights.
And against Juventus earlier this month, he set a new standard for Champions League goals in a calendar year with 14, surpassing Messi's previous benchmark of 13.
"Cristiano Ronaldo is insatiable," wrote Luis Alberto Diaz in a recent editorial in Marca. "It seems since upon arriving in the Spanish league in the summer of 2009 he set out to demolish any and all goalscoring records around."
He's certainly well on his way, playing the best football he ever has.
It certainly does get better for Cristiano Ronaldo.