Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are past their prime.
While that might sound harsh, it’s actually the biggest of compliments because to both be competing for the Ballon d’Or when their peak arguably came over a decade ago is simply astonishing.
Messi vs Ronaldo
However, any discussion about Ronaldo and Messi inevitability leads to comparisons with each and every avenue imaginable having been used to try and establish some sort of winner over the years.
But what if we were to switch things up and not actually pit them head-to-head over their entire careers? Yes, that’s right, we wanted to compare Messi and Ronaldo in their greatest ever seasons.
Naturally, that alone is a subjective endeavour, but we thought that the most clean-cut of methods for two players so synonymous with goalscoring would be to take their most prolific seasons ever.
DEBATE – Should Maguire be stripped of Man Utd captaincy? (Football Terrace)
Comparing Ronaldo and Messi’s prime seasons
And while, yes, you could immediately point out that Messi scored more goals than Ronaldo, we’re digging a little deeper than that by using WhoScored.com’s statistical player comparison tool.
Keying in these dizzying zeniths of Ronaldo and Messi was certainly fascinating and once we got started with their La Liga statistics in each season, a clear winner quickly emerged – check it out:
Messi sneaks ahead with two more goals than his rival despite a smaller average of shots per game, while also winning seven more Man of the Match awards and boasting a superior overall rating.
Throw in more key passes and dribbles per game as well as fewer offsides, better passing accuracy and stronger use of through balls and long balls to see Messi winning across almost every metric.
What about the Champions League?
In fact, the same goes for the Champions League with Messi producing more goals and assists, quadruple the number of Man of the Match awards and even scoring five times in one match.
In the end, neither player lifted ‘Big Ears’ with Chelsea and Barcelona triumphing respectively, but it goes to show that Messi’s individual prime wasn’t just reserved to domestic games nonetheless.
Naturally, Ronaldo would come out a lot better if we were comparing to his 2013/14 season in Europe, but that’s where it’s difficult to pin down the prime of two players who have been so consistently unbeatable.
And don’t think for one second that we’re under any illusion that we’ve settled the GOAT out of nowhere. Then again, you can’t help feeling that Messi’s 2011/12 season might never be topped.