UEFA list the record holders if Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo never played football

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have bigger trophy cabinets than most football clubs.

The mercurial pair have won everything from the Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and Premier League to just about every individual accolade going.

Few weeks go by without either Ronaldo or Messi posing with a brand new trophy or, at the very least, taking pride of place on the list of nominees.

That's why 2018 seemed somewhat strange as Luka Modric ended the duopoly in the Ballon d'Or as well as collecting the equivalent awards from UEFA and FIFA.

However, despite there being a strong argument that Modric enjoyed the better 12 months, nobody was saying that the Real Madrid midfielder topped his fellow nominees overall.

The dominance of Ronaldo and Messi

Messi and Ronaldo have achieved so much in their glittering careers that a place in the GOAT (greatest-of-all-time) debate is simply guaranteed. 

In fact, they have become so engrained in footballing culture that it's almost impossible to imagine the game's last 10 years without them.

And that's why UEFA decided to explore that very possibility earlier in January, assessing who would hold their various records if Ronaldo and Messi never existed. 

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Records without Ronaldo and Messi

Given their utter dominance in European competitions, seeing who would be collecting the praise makes for interesting reading. Check out their various findings down below:

All-time Champions League top scorer

As it is: Ronaldo (122)
Would be: Raúl González (71)

Champions League top scorer for the most seasons

As it is: Ronaldo (6)
Would be: Van Nistelrooy, Lewandowski (3)

Most goals in a single Champions League season

As it is: Ronaldo – 2013/14 (17)
Would be: van Nistelrooy – 2002/03 (12), Gomez – 2011/12 (12) 

Bayern Munich's German forward Mario Gom

Most Ballon d'Or victories

As it is: Messi and Ronaldo (5)
Would be: Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten (3)

Most Champions League hat-tricks 

As it is: Messi (8)
Would be: Inzaghi, Gomez, Luiz Adriano (3)

Champions League top scorer since 2007

2007/08: Torres, Drogba, Gerrard (6 goals)
2008/09: Gerrard, Klose (7)
2009/10: Olić (7)
2010/11: Gomez, Eto'o (8)
2011/12: Gomez (12)
2012/13: Lewandowski (10)
2013/14: Ibrahimović (10)
2014/15: Neymar (10)
2015/16: Lewandowski (9)
2016/17: Cavani, Lewandowski (8)
2017/18: Firmino, Mané, Salah (10) 

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Conclusion

So, it's fair to say the footballing world would look very different without Messi and Ronaldo.

Football fans would be talking about the time Ivica Olic was the Champions League's most prolific and will be wondering if Cruyff, Van Basten and Platini will ever be topped in the Ballon d'Or.

It's also pretty remarkable that Liverpool's entire front three would have topped Europe's goalscoring charts last season.

At the end of the day, though, it's the sheer alienness of the above records that demonstrates just how dominant Ronaldo and Messi have been over the last decade.

Without the incredible duo in the game, records shrink and entertainment suffers.

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Who do you think is the world's best after Ronaldo and Messi? Have your say in the comments section below.

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