The 12 footballers that have played with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo compare the two

Teammates of both Ronaldo and Messi have spoken on the debate

Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the biggest debates amongst football fans.

Who is better? Is it Barcelona’s Argentine maestro, or Juventus’ Portuguese superstar?

Most supporters will argue one way or the other, sometimes even refusing to acknowledge the achievements of the player they don’t choose. 

Lining up alongside either one of them is a dream for many footballers. But imagine being able to play with BOTH during your career. 

So far, only 12 players have had that pleasure – although next season, Arthur and Miralem Pjanic will get to cross that off their bucket list too. 

Pretty cool, right?

While fans love to debate who is better, we’ll perhaps never truly know – because we haven’t played alongside them. 

Messi and Ronaldo are the greatest ever

But what do those who actually have think? From Paulo Dybala to Deco, here’s how the 12 footballers who have been teammates of both Ronaldo and Messi call the debate.

Angel Di Maria

“Leo [Messi] is the best. With all the great players I have played with, it’s hard to choose. But if I had to pick one, it would be Leo.

“Messi is the best in the world – there is no question about that. 

“When I am an old man I will tell my grandchildren bedtime stories about when I won the Champions League, hopefully when I won the World Cup…

“But most of all I will tell them their grandfather used to play with Lionel Messi.” 

RESULT: Messi 

Messi and Di Maria play for Argentina

Gabriel Heinze

“If I had to pay for one player I would choose [Ronaldo]. I don’t think Cristiano will get any better as a footballer, he is already next to God in his ability.”

RESULT: Ronaldo

Gonzalo Higuain

“[Ronaldo and I] had already played together with Real. I enjoyed playing alongside him before and I am glad that we are back together [at Juventus].

“I’m a forward and I have the chance to play with Messi. It’s a privilege to play alongside him. He does things that a striker can anticipate but a defender can’t.” 


Higuain and Ronaldo have spent their careers together

Paulo Dybala

“They are at a level on a par with each other and well above everybody else and that has been the case for several years.”



“From the outset, it is clear that Leo and Cristiano are the greatest. Especially because no one thought they could take so many years to this level.

“But the one that impressed me most despite not being so decisive was Ronaldinho. For me, he will always be the best.”


Deco and Messi featured for Barca

Fernando Gago

“For me [Ronaldo] is not number one. For me, the best in the world is Messi because of the way he plays, moves with the ball and changes matches.

“He is the best I have seen in my life, without a doubt.”


Ezequiel Garay

“When people ask me who is the best player ever, I say Leo.

“From the first time I saw him with Argentina Under-15s to this day he continues to amaze me. He has no limit.”

RESULT: Messi 

Messi and Garay played internationally

Andre Gomes

“[Ronaldo] is a very important player, who is always present and ready to play. He’s a great example for all of us.

“Everyone knows that Messi is very, very good. He does things in games that you cannot explain; he just knows different things and can do it.”


Henrik Larsson

“Ronaldo is a very good player, but Messi is even better. He is out of this world. He’s so good that it’s almost incredible.”

RESULT: Messi 

Larsson picked Messi over Ronaldo

Gerard Pique

“Cristiano is a perfect machine, a hard worker who always wants to improve. [But] I always said that Messi has some talent that no one has.

“For me, it’s like Messi is not human but [Ronaldo] is the best of the humans.”


Nelson Semedo

Real Madrid have noticed [Ronaldo’s] absence a lot. He is a player that requires a lot of attention and care.

“Messi is spectacular. It’s a privilege to play with him, he always surprises, he’s from another planet.”


Semedo couldn't pick between the two

Carlos Tevez

“Cristiano always stopped in the gym after training: for him, it is an obsession – being the best in everything.

“Messi plays another sport. For Messi to score three goals [in any given game] is normal.”


Tevez didn't commit to picking one over the other

So who is better?

While as many as six players couldn’t decide between the pair – or simply refused to rock the boat – six others did outright choose one over the other. 

Five went with Messi and only one with Ronaldo. Debate over?  

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