Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? It’s been the biggest debate in football over the past 15 years.
We all have our own opinions. While it’s true that we should appreciate and enjoy both players – the pair of them are bonafide legends of the game, after all – most of us prefer watching one over the other.
Many have tried to answer the debate in the past, but Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has produced a comprehensive answer that many other football fans will surely agree wholeheartedly with.
Carragher, celebrating his 43rd birthday on Thursday, joined Spanish football expert Guillem Balague on the Pure Football podcast and was asked for his views on the debate.
Balague knows Messi and Ronaldo inside out, having written books on both superstars, and he sat back and listened to Carragher’s excellent answer.
Carragher answers the Ronaldo vs Messi debate
The Sky Sports pundit says he’s always felt Messi was the better footballer but admits he has even more respect for Ronaldo.
“Messi, I’ve never changed that,” Carragher began. “I think I’m with the majority on that.
“I think I have possibly more respect for Ronaldo and the reason I say that is because he has got unbelievable talent but his mentality, his focus, his work rate has made him what he is, or get him to where he is, has taken him to another level.
“Whenever you think he’s finished or Messi’s done something amazing, he comes back with something again and again and again.
“And it must have been tough for him at times. Even when he was at late stages at United, early days at Madrid where no matter what he did, people would say Messi, Messi, Messi. I think now it’s a bit more even.
“But I think with all those Ballon d’Ors Messi was winning, even when Ronaldo was playing out of his skin. But he still came back for more and that’s what I respect so much.”
Carragher: Messi leaves people open-mouthed
Carragher then explained how, in his opinion, Messi does more things that leave fans and fellow professionals open-mouthed compared to Ronaldo.
“What I would say is Ronaldo does things that other players can do but he does them more often,” the retired defender added. “He scores more goals but I think Messi does things that other players can’t do.
“So you see Ronaldo score a great goal and you think, ‘Okay, well I’ve seen that before.’
“Ronaldo does it so often but Messi, the way he dribbles and runs with the ball, you very rarely see that in football now.
“I mean most teams don’t even have a dribbler in the team anymore now. You don’t see anyone run with the ball so… he does things that professional footballers are open-mouthed with, that’s the best way to describe it.
“It’s not just supporters, it’s top players thinking, ‘I can’t believe that. I can’t believe he’s done that.’
“And that spell with Pep going into Luis Enrique, that era of like seven/eight years when Barcelona were just off the scale, what Messi was doing.
“That’s what I’d always go for Messi because he does things that other players can’t and leave them open-mouthed.”
Watch Carragher’s explanation in full here…
Many people are in agreement with Carragher
And it seems many people are in complete agreement with Carragher…
Both Messi and Ronaldo obviously deserve all the plaudits that come their way. They’ve both scaled remarkable heights and continue to amaze in their mid-30s.
But in the eyes of many, including Carragher, the magic of Messi gives him the edge.