Football legends who have chosen between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

  • Rob Swan

Everybody has their own opinion when it comes to the age-old Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi debate.

This debate has now been raging on for the best part of 15 years. The two superstars have both been unbelievably consistent during that time and, in truth, there’s been little to separate them.

Both Ronaldo and Messi will forever be remembered as two of the game’s all-time greats – if not *the* game’s two all-time greats.

But how do other legends of football rate the two superstars?

The Daily Mail have published a list of great players and managers who have chosen between Ronaldo and Messi, along with their quotes. We’ve added a few more into the mix, too. The final result is quite telling.

Pele – Ronaldo

Okay, so Pele has definitely changed his mind on more than one occasion, but we’ll go with his most-recent comments.

“Today the best player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo,” the football icon recently stated. “I think he’s the best, because he’s more consistent, but you can’t forget about [Lionel] Messi, of course, but he’s not a striker.”

Diego Maradona – Messi

Maradona is a big fan of Ronaldo, but his loyalties lie with his compatriot.

“I can’t remember having seen Lionel Messi play badly,” he said. “I prefer Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo but I acknowledge that the latter is an animal. Football history will remember Messi. Football has given him a lot, as much as he has given the sport and to win a World Cup, in my opinion, wouldn’t bring himself anything else.”

Paul Scholes – Messi

Scholes played alongside Ronaldo for six years at Man United, but even he admits Messi is a better all-round footballer than his former teammate.

“Messi [is the best] but Ronaldo is brilliant,” the retired midfielder said. “Ronaldo is sensational at what he does, with pace and power.

“He scores, he takes free-kicks. But as an all-round footballer, Messi – wow, his passing – he has absolutely everything.”

David Beckham – Messi

Beckham, Ronaldo’s predecessor at Man Utd, has previously said that Messi is on a different level.

“They have similarities in their technical skills and talent, and it is amazing for football to have them both present, but Messi is simply the best player in the world,” he said.

“He [Messi] is alone in his class as a player, it is impossible that there is another like him. He, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who is not at his level, are both above the rest.”

Roberto Carlos – Ronaldo

Roberto Carlos is both Brazilian and a Madridista… so it’s hardly a shock that he reckons Ronaldo is the best.

“I watch him [Cristiano] train every day and the way he works is exciting,” the legendary left-back said. “He wants to improve every day. That’s the difference with Messi.

“Leo is a phenomenon, but that side of Cristiano, of training, professionalism, focus, motivation, success… Cristiano has an advantage over all the others.”

Sir Alex Ferguson – Ronaldo

Everyone knows how tight Fergie and Ronaldo are. The legendary former Manchester United manager believes Ronaldo could perform at any team in the world. He isn’t as convinced that Messi could do the same.

“Now don’t get me wrong, Messi is a fantastic player, it’s like he’s wearing slippers when he controls the ball,” Ferguson said. “But here, for me, is the difference. Messi is a Barcelona player.

“But Ronaldo could play for Stockport County and score a hat-trick. He just wanted to be the best in the world.”

Marco van Basten – Messi

Marco van Basten, one of the most talented forwards ever, firmly believes that Messi is a once-in-a-lifetime talent.

“Cristiano is a great player, but those who say he is better than Messi know nothing about football, or they are saying it in bad faith,” the Dutchman commented. “Messi is one of a kind. Impossible to imitate and impossible to repeat. A player like him comes along every 50 or 100 years.”

Zinedine Zidane – Ronaldo

Ronaldo helped Zidane win three Champions League titles in a row as Real Madrid manager. It’s hardly surprising that he opted for the Portuguese star over Messi.

“Cristiano is the best. Messi is his rival and it’s the rivalry everyone wants to see,” the Frenchman said. “But Ronaldo is phenomenal. There are no words to describe him. He is much better than me even though I had a great career. He’s the greatest of all time.”

Kylian Mbappe – Ronaldo

Ronaldo was one of Mbappe’s idols growing up. The Frenchman admits he often changes his mind when it comes to the Ronaldo v Messi debate – like many of us!

“From one year to the next, my choice changes between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, even if I have to admit to picking Ronaldo more often. I loved him when I was younger.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Messi

Zlatan believed he was the greatest player in the world – until he started playing and training with Messi at Barcelona.

“I think Messi is one of a kind,” the charismatic Swede said. “What he’s doing, I don’t know if we will see another player do the things that he does.

“It is different [with Ronaldo] because he is the result of hard training. It is not natural.”

Fabio Capello – Messi

Capello watched Messi rip his Juventus side apart during a pre-season friendly when the Argentine was just 16 years old. The Italian immediately, but unsuccessfully, tried to sign the teenager.

“Ronaldo’s an extraordinary footballer, but Messi is a genius,” the veteran coach said.

“There are three geniuses in football: Pele, Maradona and Messi. Period. Ronaldo is very strong as he helps you win everything, but Messi is a genius and the better player.”

Ronaldinho – Messi

Ronaldinho first told the world, back in 2005, that Messi was even better than him. Nobody believed he was telling the truth. Everyone thought he was being overly modest.

“Messi,” the flamboyant Brazilian answered. “I would have loved to continue playing alongside him. I didn’t get enough time with him, he was very young. I’d love to take to the pitch with him one more time.

“He’s the best in history, no doubt. Nobody has done what Messi’s done. The other one [Ronaldo] is complete, he has it all. So does Messi, but it’s a question of taste and I prefer Messi’s style.”

Diego Simeone – Messi

Both Messi and Ronaldo have enjoyed plenty of success against Simeone’s Atletico Madrid down the years. The Argentine coach admits he would sign Ronaldo over Messi in a normal team – but still believes the latter is the better footballer.

“If I had to choose between Messi and Ronaldo then most likely I would choose Messi,” he said.

“If you have the chance to sign one of them for a normal club, with normal players, Ronaldo would probably fit in better.

“But with Messi, surrounded by great players, Messi is better than Ronaldo.”

Ronaldo Nazario – Messi

Ronaldo, who played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid during his illustrious career, feels Messi is the more complete player.

“He (Messi) is out of this world. Cristiano, too, but I see Leo as more complete.

“He’s great. I like him much more than any other player. Everything he does is spectacular.”

Jurgen Klopp – Messi

This quote from Klopp said it all…

“I have only one selfie on my smartphone,’ he said. ‘That’s with Messi. Cristiano was in the room as well…”

Wayne Rooney – Messi

Even though Rooney struck up an unbelievable partnership with Ronaldo during their time together at Man Utd, the former England captain has stated on several occasions that he believes Messi is the best footballer ever.

“Messi. I think I’ve said this before, but they’re both probably the best two players to ever play the game.

“I just think Messi is, in my eyes, the greatest ever.”

Steven Gerrard – Messi

Gerrard recently said that he prefers team players rather than individuals, hence why he would pick Messi over Ronaldo.

“There are certain players who are on a different level to anyone else out there, Messi and Ronaldo,” he said.

“But Ronaldo doesn’t get in my team. I am more about what you are going to do for the team. What are we going to achieve together? Ronaldo will win you things but I am more about a team player than an individual player, so I’ll always go down that road.”

Angel Di Maria – Messi

Di Maria, who has had the honour of playing with both superstars, thinks Messi is on another planet.

“It was a dream to have the possibility to play with [Wayne] Rooney, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, Cristiano [Ronaldo], Leo [Messi]… they were players that I used on the PlayStation and I would never have imagined I’d get to play with them,”

“I used to watch them and then to have the opportunity to play with them was really nice.

“Leo is the best of the four.”

Iker Casillas – Ronaldo

And Casillas, one of the greatest goalkeepers ever, sided with his former Real Madrid teammate.

“I’d choose Cristiano over Messi because he’s a player who gives us so much every season and he’s a player I spend time with every day.”

Final score: Ronaldo 6-13 Messi

A quite resounding victory, then, for Messi.

Take nothing away from Ronaldo – everybody knows he’s an extraordinary player and easily one of the greatest of all time – but Messi, in the eyes of many managers and players, is a genius.

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