Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi: Stats settle the debate each season since 2009/10

  • Kobe Tong
Ronaldo and Messi shake hands.

The Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate is done and dusted for another season.

While the two Ballon d’Or-winning juggernauts have found themselves taking something of a back seat in the 2021/22 campaign, it’s still done little to stop supporters discussing which player is better.

Just because Messi made a quiet start to life at Paris Saint-Germain and Ronaldo turned out for a truly terrible Manchester United side, it doesn’t make the eternal debate between the two of them any less fun.

Ronaldo vs Messi debate

Besides, the 2021/22 season marked arguably one of the most fascinating comparisons between the two seeing as they both moved clubs simultaneously for the first time in their careers.

And fear not, ladies and gentlemen, because we’ve already crunched the numbers to see which player came out on top this season in everything from goals to assists and trophies to Man of the Match awards.

That being said, we now want to go one step further and see how the battle of whits between Ronaldo and Messi across the 2021/22 campaign factors into their career-long rivalry as a whole.

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At what age did Messi join Barcelona?

What do the stats say?

To do that, we’re turning to one of the most comprehensive statistics measures out there: the player rating system over at WhoScored.

As one of football’s leading stats websites, WhoScored awards each player in the biggest leagues a rating out of 10 based on every game that they feature in, which is informed by a whole range of data sets.

And when that’s averaged out over the course of the season, there’s good reason to think that it’s one of the most effective measures by which we can establish the best-performing players of them all.

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Comparing Messi and Ronaldo’s stats each season

How does that apply to Ronaldo vs Messi? Well, we’ve seen who had the superior average player rating in league football across every season dating back to 2009/10 to tackle that exact debate.

And to say that the result was a convincing one – it’s much the same in the Champions League, too, by the way – would be quite the understatement, so be sure to check out the season-by-season battle down below:

2009/10

Lionel Messi – 8.67

Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.54

Messi scores for Barcelona.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Deportivo Coruna during their Spanish First Division soccer match at Riazor stadium in Coruna December 5, 2009. REUTERS/Miguel Vidal (SPAIN SPORT SOCCER)

2010/11

Lionel Messi – 8.76

Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.35

2011/12

Lionel Messi – 8.88

Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.28

2012/13

Lionel Messi – 8.83

Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.15

Messi and Xavi at Barcelona.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (L) and Xavi Hernandez celebrate a goal against Real Betis during their Spanish First division soccer league match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona May 5, 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN – Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

2013/14

Lionel Messi – 8.34

Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.27

2014/15

Lionel Messi – 8.84

Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.48

2015/16

Lionel Messi – 8.46

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.99

Messi scores at Camp Nou.
BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 12: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RC Deportivo La Coruna at Camp Nou on December 12, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

2016/17

Lionel Messi – 8.47

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.61

2017/18

Lionel Messi – 8.68

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.94

2018/19

Lionel Messi – 8.48

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.68

Messi clapping at Barcelona.
Soccer Football – Champions League Semi Final First Leg – FC Barcelona v Liverpool – Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain – May 1, 2019 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Susana Vera

2019/20

Lionel Messi – 8.71

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.82

2020/21 

Lionel Messi – 8.52

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.61

2021/22

Lionel Messi – 7.77

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.11

Final score: Lionel Messi 13-0 Cristiano Ronaldo

Messi scores for PSG.
Soccer Football – Champions League – Group A – Paris St Germain v Club Brugge – Parc des Princes, Paris, France – December 7, 2021 Paris St Germain’s Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their fourth goal REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A stunning victory for Messi

Drop the mic. Does it get any more convincing than that?

In a quite astonishing whitewash, Messi is statistically ranked as the superior player to Ronaldo across every single season of the last 13 years with Ronaldo only really coming close in the 2013/14 campaign.

Even then, an out-of-form Messi still snuck ahead to establish more than a decade of utter dominance over his rival when it comes to league statistics.

Now, the elephant in the room is that data isn’t the be all and end all with even the most ardent of Messi fans surely conceding that the rivalry isn’t quite as clearcut as the final score would have you believe.

Ronaldo fumes at Juventus.
Soccer Football – Italy – Serie A – Udinese v Juventus – Dacia Arena, Udine, Italy – August 22, 2021 Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo reacts REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

Plus, it goes without saying that the statistics do seem to favour more rounded players with Messi’s proclivity for world-class playmaking and passing giving him an edge over the more goals-centric Ronaldo.

Though, all that being said, we will go out on a limb and say that Messi winning by such an insane margin can’t be something that’s completely dispelled by technicalities and caveats.

They say the numbers don’t lie and that’s clearly one area in which the Messi vs Ronaldo debate is easy to answer. Kind of…. maybe… probably…

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