Graph shows Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's goals and assists over time

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In ten years, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will probably be enjoying retirement.

It seems unfathomable to imagine modern football without its most talented players but, sadly, we need to prepare for a time where the duo will be enjoying the sport from the sidelines.

Whether they go on to become coaches, pundits or simply kick back and relax, it just won't be the same without them humiliating defenders, scoring countless goals and lifting every trophy going.

But something that won't end with their retirement is the age old question: which player is better?

Although they are bound together by their sheer quality, their playing styles are just so different that the debate is often incredibly divisive and many of the deciding factors are bound in subjectivity.

Ronaldo vs Messi debate

So, while plenty of football fans will fairly defend their position through thick and thin, statistics are always the closest we can come to objectively settling the debate.

There are so many ways you can prioritise and alter data-sets that even the numbers won't solve things, but it brings us as close as possible to separating two legends.

Then, of course, we have to consider that Ronaldo is two years older than Messi, meaning it's often best to compare where the former was at the same stage of the latter.

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Goals and assists graph

And that's something that Reddit user u/Bright-Blue has decided to take on by contrasting both Messi and Ronaldo's total goals and assists by age throughout their career.

Collecting data from the reputable Transfermarkt, they have constructed a fascinating graph that clearly shows that Messi has dominated the debate since around the age of 21.

And what makes the data all the more astonishing is that Ronaldo's extra two years of experience, which have been included in the graph, don't even catch up with where Messi stands at 32.

Messi fans, give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the full graphic down below:

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Can we get a taxi for Ronaldo please?

There's more to football than scoring goals and providing them, but we tend to think they're the two most important statistics and especially when you're comparing individuals as opposed to teams.

Nevertheless, there will be plenty of Ronaldo fans that point towards international trophies with the Portuguese having won the European Championships and UEFA Nations League.

Messi has continued to be frustrated in Argentina colours but, if we return to individual awards, then he's neck-a-neck with Ronaldo on five Ballon d'Or titles apiece.

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We could go around in circles all afternoon with the different statistics yet if you boil it down to the basics, Messi is thrashing Ronaldo despite being two years younger.

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