Virat Kohli: Lionel Messi a 'Freak' but Cristiano Ronaldo 'Most Complete Player'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2019

Virat Kohli of India walks off the field at the lunch break during day 4 of the 2nd Test between West Indies and India at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica, on September 2, 2019. (Photo by Randy Brooks / AFP)        (Photo credit should read RANDY BROOKS/AFP/Getty Images)

India cricket captain Virat Kohli has said he thinks Cristiano Ronaldo is more "complete" than his rival Lionel Messi.

Juventus star Ronaldo and Barcelona icon Messi have long been considered the best two players on the planet, with debate raging among fans as to who is the superior.

Kohli was asked for his thoughts on one of the biggest talking points in football and had high praise for the Portuguese, per the Times of India (h/t Chris Burton of Goal):

"Tough question. But I would say Cristiano is the most complete player that I have seen. Whether it's the left foot, right foot, speed or dribbling skills, he's amazing. I have not seen a better goalscorer.

"He revolutionised the sport and everyone followed him. His place is special, but if I had to take only one in my team who will give energy and intensity, it's Cristiano.

"[...] Messi is a freak, absolute natural talent, and his ability is second to none. For me, what stands out is the ability or the will to put in the effort in every single minute of the game. Ronaldo's drive separates him from everyone else. Playing at the top level, everyone has talent, but I don't think anyone has the will that he has."

The duo have dominated world football for more than a decade, earning a number of individual accolades to go alongside their club honours. 

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Messi recently won FIFA's The Best Men's Player prize. The Argentina international beat Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Ronaldo in the voting.

Per ESPN FC, Messi has voted for Ronaldo to win the award in the past and did so again this year; the latter has never nominated the former, though:

While the two have been fierce rivals on the field, especially during Ronaldo's time at Real Madrid, off the pitch, it appears as though their relationship is strong:

It will be intriguing to see how these two legendary figures continue to adapt their game as they move towards the twilight of their careers.

Messi has missed the majority of the 2019-20 campaign due to injury, but last season he assumed more playmaking duties for Barcelona, dropping deep to get possession and construct attacks. Ronaldo, by contrast, is becoming more of a penalty-box forward.

Like Messi and Ronaldo, Kohli is considered to be a generational sporting talent. He also has a serious rival in Australia's Steve Smith in the battle to be considered the world's best batsman.

Statistician Mohandas Menon broke down their respective records:

In the ICC's official rankings, Smith is currently top from Kohli. The India star leads the way in the one-day international stakes, though, with Smith 28th in the limited-overs format.

The two cricketing stars will come head-to-head in January 2020, when Australia travel to India for a three-match ODI series.