Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been perched at the summit of world football for a good few years now, however the Argentine Messi has beaten his rival to the last four Ballon d’Or trophies and here is an argument for why Ronaldo is a better all-round footballer than the Barcelona star.
Although Messi has outscored the Portuguese international in recent seasons, the competition has been a tight affair, with Ronaldo’s teammates often relying on him more than Barcelona’s reliance on Messi.
Barcelona have been far more successful than Real Madrid since Ronaldo arrived in Spain four years ago, meaning the ex-Manchester United player has not exactly been rewarded with the trophies that his outstanding contribution has deserved.
So what exactly is it FIFA look at when analyzing the best world’s best footballer? Surely goals are not the sole criteria? Perhaps it is better to analyze the overall athlete.
There’s no denying Messi’s talent and his unbelievable ability to turn defenders inside out, but how well would the agile 26-year-old fare if needed in a deeper role than his present role up front?
Ronaldo on the other hand has a physique capable of mixing it with the game’s most physical players. Since arriving at the Bernabeu, the 28-year-old has transformed his body, injected an element of brute strength to his game and rarely shies away from his defensive duties.
In terms of aerial ability, Ronaldo wins hands down. Hw is one of the best in the game at heading, both when attacking crosses and also winning high balls in general play.
Ronaldo is more useful in a defensive sense than Messi is to his Barcelona compatriots. The Premier League winner is often seen leaping highest to clear the ball when defending corners and his blistering pace is also useful on the counter attack.
Whilst Messi is gifted with fantastic ball control and trickery, Ronaldo betters the Argentinian in pace and power.
Also, the range of goals Ronaldo scores is more impressive than Messi’s slightly better consistency of finding the net.
Barcelona have a fabulous slick passing technique and ability to pass through teams like they are not even there. Ronaldo on the other hand, often has to produce the goods alone, as his team are not as reliable in possession and also concede more at the back.
All in all, the pressure on Ronaldo’s shoulders seems a lot greater than what Messi has to deal with. The Portuguese world-beater also possesses a physique that is suitable in a variety of positions.
The battle between the pair is intense and hotly contested year on year, however perhaps it is about time FIFA take a look at the bigger picture and acknowledge Ronaldo’s all-round game, because it is nothing short of spectacular.
Just outside these top two in the argument for world’s best is the brilliant young Brazilian Neymar.
He has improved considerably since leaving Santos for Barcelona in June and could go on to become the best player in the world, according to compatriot Ronaldo.
“Neymar has evolved and I am sure he will evolve even more,” former Brazil and Barcelona striker Ronaldo said recently. “If he keeps getting better he will be the best player in the world.”
Ronaldo said Neymar could be the finished article by the time he returns to his homeland for the 2014 World Cup.
“I am sure he’ll be coming to Brazil an even better player,” he added.
Ronaldo, whose sports marketing company has Neymar on its books, has good reason to talk up the 21-year-old and told the former Santos player that he needed to go to Europe to fulfil his potential.
While Neymar has been criticized for diving, he has shown in his first few months in Spain that he can shine alongside the best in the world like Barca team mate Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I am delighted with Neymar’s start, he’s playing well and scoring and creating goals,” said the Brazilian Ronaldo who also had spells with Real, Inter Milan and AC Milan.
“He has Messi alongside him, who is out of this world. In every game he is brilliant and scores two or three goals.”
Ronaldo is on the World Cup organizing committee but is now spending most of his time in London where he is studying business and marketing.
Barcelona’s midfield brilliance is partly due to the pairing of Spanish duo Andres Iniesta’s understanding with Xavi Hernandez which borders on the telepathic at times.
The short, eye of the needle passing the pair produce can pierce holes in the most stubborn of rearguards. Iniesta is also very modest, never creating problems for the coaches he works under. He scored the winner in the World Cup final against the Netherlands three years ago.
Other names likely to be on the best player short list are Arjen Robben, Mario Goetze and Franck Ribery (all Bayern Munich), Sergio Aruero and Yaya Toure (Man City).