When it comes to discussions regarding ‘the best footballer in the world’, the list is short. World football has seen a number of players come and go, but few have managed to impact the lives of an everyday human being quite like the modern-day legends Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The discussion of a modern-day great would be incomplete without mentioning the two superstars who are still very much in their prime. The likes of Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Pele and Eusebio would all have to testify that they probably never saw anyone quite like Messi and Ronaldo. It is universally agreed that the duo are unlucky to be born in the same generation as one another, but as fans of the beautiful game, none of us is complaining.
It seems unfair that we keep trying to pick a winner between the duo, considering that they both come with two very different skill sets, but when you’re that high above everyone else at the professional level, you must be used to the scrutiny that comes with it. They both may be legends already, but here are what five other footballers felt when they were asked to choose between the two.
5. GONZALO HIGUAIN (AC Milan)
Higuain is widely considered ruthless in front of the goal and has played at some of Europe’s biggest clubs. He has also played with both Ronaldo and Messi and is a known admirer of the play that both brings to their respective sides.
When asked to pick one, however, the Argentine was quick to choose his compatriot with whom he has shared the front-line so many times before. “Messi is the best and he demonstrates it every day,” Higuain remarked.
4. ANGEL DI MARIA (Paris Saint-Germain)
Angel Di Maria always had the makings of a star. His magical left foot, coupled with blistering pace and a knack of picking up attacking positions made him one of Europe’s upcoming talents.
A failed stint at Manchester United, however, has pulled his career back a little, but he continues to rebuild his image at PSG. Having played with both Messi and Ronaldo, the choice over who is better was an easy one for the talented winger.
“Messi is already the greatest player ever and winning a World Cup would confirm that, but he’s already the best,” Di Maria said, proving that playing with Ronaldo at Madrid paled in comparison to watching Messi train in Argentina.
3. EDEN HAZARD (Chelsea FC)
Eden Hazard is the hottest property in Europe right now owing to a sensational start to the season with Chelsea. Having scored seven times in the league already, Eden is on course for another strong performance, with a proposed move to Real Madrid in the offing.
He may be no less than a legend if he keeps on playing the way he has, but when asked about who he thinks takes the cake between Messi and Ronaldo, a swift response was forthcoming from the Belgian.
“Of course, when you are playing football you want to play against the best. The best team, the best players in the world. Messi is the best player in the world.”
2. PAULO DYBALA (Juventus FC)
There are few young and upcoming players better than Dybala at the moment. The Argentine has proved his worth to Juventus over the past few years and has all the makings of a sensational player himself if he can keep up the good work.
Dybala would have to wait for his moment at the top though, as the spot currently belongs to his idol Messi, in the Argentine’s opinion. When asked to choose between his current Juventus teammate Ronaldo and national teammate Messi, the forward had this to say.
In the context of Argentina’s chances at the World Cup, Dybala said, “Having the best player in the history of football on our side, the dream is very big.”
1. ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (LA Galaxy)
Move aside Ronaldo and Messi, the real god of football is here. It may be all fun and games when it comes to Ibrahimovic, but few would question his words off the field because he always backs them up on the pitch.
The Swede is in the twilight of his career but still working wonders at LA Galaxy, and when asked who is a better player among Messi and Ronaldo, the striker chose his former Barcelona teammate in typical Zlatan fashion.
“I think Messi is one of a kind. What he’s doing, I don’t know if we will see another player do the things that he does. I had the luck to see him every day and I saw what he was doing every day. Like I said before, it’s like playing PlayStation. You give the ball to the guy and you start to go through every player and that’s who Messi is.”