Messi or Ronaldo? The 22 players to have played with both have had their say

Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? Who is the greatest footballer of all time?

It’s a question that has been asked for decades now.

Of course, the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona may well be the answer for some of the older generation but, with 13 Ballons d’Or between them, we can’t help but think the GOAT debate is down to just two players.

So, who is better, Messi or Ronaldo?

Football fans can debate the matter all day long but who really cares about the opinion of us mere mortals?

We think the answer can only be given by those who have actually played with both superstar players. And based on our research, we believe there are 22 players to have been fortunate enough to have featured alongside the two greatest players of all time.

But who do THEY think is the GOAT? Let’s take a look at what they’ve previously said

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

1. Angel Di Maria

Source: TyC Sports

“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, Cristiano is a monster and Neymar is simply a joy for football. He’s Brazilian and when he plays all he does is have fun.”

Winner: Lionel Messi

2. Gabriel Heinze

Source: The Sun

“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.”

Winner: Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United Training - Heinze and Ronaldo

3. Gonzalo Higuain

Source: The Sun

“[Ronaldo and I] had already played together with Real. Many years have passed, and I have found another player, a more mature person, with a family. I enjoyed playing alongside him before and I am glad that we are back together.

“I’m a forward and I have the chance to play with Messi. It’s a privilege to play alongside him.

“Every time he gets the ball you need to be on your toes because you know that at any moment he can give you a great ball or pull your marker away from you. He does things that a striker can anticipate but a defender can’t.”

Winner: Draw

4. Paulo Dybala

Source: The Mirror

“It’s impossible to make a comparison between the two of them or say who is the best because 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.”

Winner: Draw

Argentina Press Conference & Training Session - Copa America Brazil 2019 - Dybala and Messi

5. Deco

Source: AS

“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 Ronnie. For me, he will always be the best.”

Winner: Ronaldinho?!

6. Fernando Gago

Source: The Sun

“For me he [Ronaldo] is not No1. 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.”

Winner: Lionel Messi

France v Argentina - International Friendly - Gago and Messi

7. Ezequiel Garay

Source: The Sun

“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.”

Winner: Lionel Messi

8. Andre Gomes

Source: Marca

“I do not like to compare them out of respect. I will never answer it. I’m Portuguese and I have affection for Cristiano, as much as I do for Messi, who is my teammate at Barcelona.”

Winner: Draw

Portugal v Andorra - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier - Andre Gomes and Ronaldo

9. Henrik Larsson

Source: The Sun

“Cristiano is unlucky to be playing at the same time as Messi. 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.

“When you see him with the ball at his feet it’s hard to believe that anybody else could do the same. He’s a fantastic player to see.”

Winner: Lionel Messi

10. Gerard Pique

Source: ESPN

“I always said that Messi has some talent that no one has. I mean, he has the ball and his speed controlling the ball. The ball doesn’t go two metres far from his foot, it’s always there.

“It’s impossible to catch him, this talent I didn’t see from anyone

“Cristiano Ronaldo is such a different player, they are very different. He is tall, strong, he’s really complete. He can do anything. He can do goals with the head, free-kicks, penalties, take one on one.

“But for me it’s like Messi is not human but Cristiano is the best of the humans.”

Winner: Lionel Messi

FC Barcelona v CA Osasuna - Copa Del Ray - Pique and Messi

11. Nelson Semedo

Source: The Sun

“Real Madrid have noticed [Ronaldo’s] absence a lot. I cannot say that it was bad for [Barcelona] that Cristiano left. With him it would have been a more difficult league for us, more competitive.

“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.”

Winner: Draw

12. Carlos Tevez

Source: Goal

“I think it is only right if Cristiano Ronaldo does believe he is the best in the world. Any guy who gets 37-40 goals a season has a right to believe that, but if you push me I am always going to go on the side of Messi.”

Winner: Lionel Messi

Argentina v Germany: 2010 FIFA World Cup - Quarter Finals - Tevez and Messi

13. Miralem Pjanic

Source: Sport

“With the passing of time we’ll be able to fully appreciate what these players have achieved in these past 20 years. They are incredible.

“As a player and a person, [Cristiano] is spectacular. He’s a true athlete who takes care of all the details. [Messi] is an alien. He’s an absolute phenomenon, capable of doing anything with the ball.”

Winner: Draw

14. Arthur

Source: talkSPORT

“I’d go with Cristiano, we’re playing together! I’m not that close to Cristiano that I go round his house for coffee, but we have a good relationship.

“Cristiano never backs down if there’s a teammate in need of something and he always gets to it with a fierce determination.

“He trains like an animal, he doesn’t know when to rest and he encourages you to give your all. He always tells me what to eat, not leaving anything to chance.”

Winner: Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus v US Sassuolo - Serie A - Arthur and Ronaldo

15. Francisco Trincão

Source: Evening Standard

“I’m very proud to play with both Ronaldo and Messi. It’s impossible to say who is better.”

Winner: Draw

16. Sergio Ramos

Source: Express

“Leo Messi? We’ve known each other for a long time, as opponents. It’s a joy to have him in this [PSG] team. For me, he’s one of the best players in the world, if not the best.”

Winner: Lionel Messi

Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi

17. Alejandro Garnacho

Source: Instagram

“Greatest of all times…@cristiano”

Winner: Cristiano Ronaldo

18. Pablo Sarabia

Source: Goal

“For me, Ronaldo is the best player in the world. Yes it is true that Leo is supernatural, because he has pure skill, from another planet.

“But Cristiano is an example of pure willpower. Physically he is incredible because it seems that every day he is striving to be the best. That is an incredible quality, one that has led him to where he is now. Without that characteristic he would not be there, for sure.”

Winner: Cristiano Ronaldo

Spain v Iceland - International Friendly - Pablo Sarabia

19. Danilo Pereira

Source: Soccer Laduma

“Cristiano Ronaldo is the best. The way he plays, the way he works, the way his mentality is – which I think no one can beat him in this way.”

Winner: Cristiano Ronaldo

20. Achraf Hakimi

Source: D1Softballnews

“There are no differences between them. They are champions, always hungry for titles. They give strength in big competitions. That’s what I learned from working with them.”

Winner: Draw

Juventus  v FC Internazionale - Serie A- Achraf Hakimi Ronaldo

21. Keylor Navas

Source: Football Espana

“Leo is a great person. I knew him from the times we played against each other but now that we’ve spent time together it’s super nice because I see that he’s someone humble, simple and hardworking. He’s got a gift from God that makes him different from everyone else, but in training he works hard and that motivates us a lot.”

Winner: Lionel Messi

22. Martin Caceres

Despite playing with Messi at Barcelona during 2008/09 season and briefly with Ronaldo at Juventus in 2019, it doesn’t appear as though Caceres has ever had his say on the all-important question.

Winner: Draw

SSC Napoli v Cagliari Calcio - Serie A- Martin Caceres

Messi vs Ronaldo results

So according to teammates of both, Messi is the GOAT.

Of the 22 players to have played with both, eight believe Messi is better while five sided with Ronaldo. The rest couldn’t split them.

Of course, just because they’ve played with both it doesn’t mean they’re entirely neutral.

But does their opinion carry more weight than the average football fan? Yes, yes it does.

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