Although recently the rivalry has consisted of Ronaldo vs. Messi, the true battle for best footballer in the world has been contested among the three players, Kaka, C. Ronaldo, and Messi.
In 2007, Kaka won the FIFA World Player of the Year award. Ronaldo won the award in 2008. Both years Lionel Messi finished runner-up.
The three players have different and unique playing styles. Let's start with Kaka.
Unlike the other two players, Kaka plays up the middle as an attacking midfielder. Kaka's playing style consists of defense-splitting runs through the middle and many crosses into the box which make finishing very easy for the strikers. Kaka can also obtain a good share of goals himself.
Cristiano Ronaldo can play on both wings, although last season he did sometimes play as a lone striker. As many already know, Ronaldo uses many fancy tricks to get around his opponents.
Sometimes Ronaldo dribbles down the wing to deliver a cross, but many times he can cut in and shoot himself. Among the three, Ronaldo is the best all-round player. Ronaldo is better at headers and is an expert at set pieces.
Lionel Messi is the youngest of the three players, and probably the best dribbler. Messi can dribble past his opponents with so much ease that all marvel at his dribbling abilities. His twists and turns around opponents bring joy to spectators. Messi is a great goalscorer and an outstanding passer, too.
This debate is going to be around for many years to come. Ronaldo is an arrogant player but that doesn't mean that he is bad.
Verdict: 1. Cristiano Ronaldo—Ronaldo is more of an all-round player; he can dribble, he's got speed, he's great at headers, and he's an expert at free kick. 2. Lionel Messi—this one was a hard choice. Although both are great at dribbling, Messi is better and he can score and assist more.
3. Kaka—He had his year in 2007; but now his successors have got him beat.