Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Comparing their stats at the same age

  • Kobe Tong
Messi and Ronaldo shake hands.

Lionel Messi will blow out 35 candles on his birthday cake today.

The Paris Saint-Germain star strides deeper into the second half of his thirties and edges closer to that fateful day when he will sadly hang up his boots as he celebrates another lap around the sun this week.

However, for now, let’s keep things glass-half-full and use Messi‘s birthday as an excuse to celebrate an era in which himself and Cristiano Ronaldo have raised footballing standards to new heights.

Messi vs Ronaldo debate

While footballing purists might roll their eyes at the constant comparisons between the two superstars, the simple fact of the matter is that we’re merely making the most of truly unique circumstances.

Never before in the history of the men’s game have two players of such intergalactic quality not only shared similar positions, but also the same era in what has proven to be a titanic tussle.

Yet, through all the never-ending comparisons and umpteen-million attempts to settle the debate, there will always be one sticking point that makes putting the two players head-to-head so much harder: their age difference.

The age difference problem

Whenever we compile lists assessing who has the most goals, assists, trophies and so on, there must always be the caveat that Ronaldo is two years older than Messi and boasts more career appearances.

So, yes, Ronaldo tends to come out on top for the most part, but just how much can you read into that when Messi could feasibly play catch up on his own timeline?

Sadly, things will never truly even out until both players call time on their professional careers, but the next best thing is to compare their statistics and records at identical age checkpoints.

Ronaldo and Messi in El Clasico.
Football Soccer – Barcelona v Real Madrid – Spanish La Liga Santander- Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, Spain – 3/12/16. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in action during the “Clasico”. REUTERS/Sergio Perez (SPAIN – Tags: SOCCER SPORT)

That’s where Messi’s birthday comes in handy because it’s the perfect excuse to contrast his current achievements with Ronaldo’s resumé when he blew out 35 candles back on February 5, 2020.

Ronaldo vs Messi at the same age

In other words: who had the better stats on their 35th birthday? Well, to find out, we’ve called upon the data over at and transfermarkt and duly unearthed some fascinating answers, so be sure to check out our findings below:

Cristiano Ronaldo

Goals: 722

Assists: 216

International goals: 99

Non-penalty goals: 602

Major honours: 29

Ballon d’Or trophies: 5

European Golden Shoes: 4

Ronaldo scores for Juventus.
Soccer Football – Serie A – Juventus v Udinese – Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy – January 3, 2021 Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

Lionel Messi

Goals: 769

Assists: 331

International goals: 86

Non-penalty goals: 666

Major honours: 39

Ballon d’Or trophies: 7

European Golden Shoes: 6

PSG's Messi celebrates.
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

Messi well ahead of the game

Well, well, well.

To say that Messi is ahead of the game as he celebrates his 35th birthday would be putting things mildly because Ronaldo’s statistics were nowhere near as impressive when he celebrated the very same milestone.

The Barcelona legend has the upper hand in almost every metric with a superior amount of goals, assists, non-penalty goals, major honours, Ballon d’Or titles and European Golden Shoes compared to his rival.

The only area in which Ronaldo takes the win is in goals for his country, which perhaps won’t come as much of a surprise considering that he’s the all-time record scorer in international football.

Man Utd's Ronaldo looks gutted.
Soccer Football – Champions League – Round of 16 Second Leg – Manchester United v Atletico Madrid – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – March 15, 2022 Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo reacts REUTERS/Phil Noble

Nevertheless, we must of course highlight that there’s no guarantee Messi will play as well as Ronaldo did between his 35th and 37th birthdays, so there is still hope for the Manchester United star in the quest to finish up with stronger numbers.

Well, that and the fact that he could simply play for longer than Messi ever does.

However, for now, there’s no denying that Messi is tracking for better career statistics than Ronaldo because he’s passing through the 35-year mark with a much rosier set of numbers.

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