If someone had told us back in 2009 that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would still be the world’s two best players in 10 years’ time, we probably would have given them a funny look.
Messi would be 31 at the beginning of 2019. Ronaldo almost 34. Surely a host of talented young players would emerge to take their place at the top of football’s pyramid over the next decade?
But that simply hasn’t happened - not because other talented players haven’t emerged, but because of the two superstars’ brilliance. Between them, they’ve won the past 10 Ballon d’Or awards and remain the kings of world football.
Not much has changed since 2009: football fans are still having intense debates over which of the two players is the better footballer.
Both Messi and Ronaldo have scored extraordinary numbers of goals and produced magical moments on an almost weekly basis.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if we’re still arguing over which of the two players is better in another 50 years’ time. At the end of the day, it’s all down to personal opinion. There is no right or wrong answer.
Messi is arguably the most naturally talented player you’ll ever see in your lives; a phenomenon who makes the game look so, so simple.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, has worked tirelessly to keep himself at the top. It’s hard to imagine we’ll ever see another player with the same determination and drive to be the best.
Journalist James Horncastle, however, firmly believes that Messi has the edge over Ronaldo thanks to one attribute which often goes under the radar: his passing.
“One of the things that, for me, has always separated Messi from Cristiano is that passing ability,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast, per the Daily Star.
“That vision, that imagination that he has with the ball.
“You look at some of the assists that he has set up over the years, just a remarkable football brain. An awareness of space and position that I think is completely out of the ordinary.”
Horncastle is spot on. Messi’s vision, imagination and passing ability is superior to Ronaldo’s. In fact, you could even argue with Messi is the greatest passer in football history.
Horncastle goes on to claim that Messi has surpassed all of the game’s legends - Ronaldo included - to become the greatest footballer of all time.
“I think, for that, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t be saying that they consider Messi to be, not only the best player in the world at the moment, but the best player of all time, eclipsing Di Stefano, eclipsing Pele. Just because of that consistency that he’s had over a decade now,” he added.
“I found it staggering, I was in discussion in Milan last weekend about some of the ex-players that were around at the San Siro.
“There was Kaka, it’s remarkable to think that Kaka was the last player not named Ronaldo and Messi to win the Ballon d’Or, because that’s a long, long time ago now.
“To perform at the level, to keep reinventing yourself is just staggering.”
Does Messi’s passing give him the edge over Ronaldo? Have your say below.