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OPINION: Ronaldo is greatest soccer player of all time

The Ronaldo v. Messi debate is as old as time (not really), but it’s clear who is the winner.
Ronaldo+and+Messi+jerseys
Matteo Ventresca
Ronaldo and Messi jerseys

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have stood out as the greatest soccer players of our era and of all time.  This has sparked debate among soccer fans worldwide, but it’s clear who is better.

If you know much about soccer then the biggest debate is who is the better player, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. The reason this is so tricky is for a few reasons:

– Ronaldo has played for longer than Messi.

– They play different positions.

– They have played for different teams and leagues.

But to a soccer fan and a player for eight years, it could never be clearer.

Most professional players agree that consistency is very important in any sport especially in soccer considering how it is played year-round. Messi is less consistent than Ronaldo.

After Messi scored his historic 91 goals in a year, he then scored only half of those goals per year. If we make a graph of his total goals, the line would look more like a heartbeat! Ronaldo, however, consistently scored more than 50 goals for seven calendar years! To this day, he scored more than 50 goals. This brings me to my next point.

Longevity, for the greatest player of all time, is important. You can’t just be a great player only in your prime.

So let’s look at the facts. After he turned 30 years old, Messi scored 130 goals, while Ronaldo scored a whopping 414. That’s almost 4 times more than Messi. Even if we account for the extra two years he has on Messi, it is still close to 3 times more.

Now, let’s move on to International play. Messi won the FIFA World Cup in 2022 with his “amazing” team. This is an incredible award that few players can accomplish. However, to say this puts him in front of Ronaldo in a G.O.A.T. argument, or even the international G.O.A.T. argument, is crazy!

Let’s look at it with some context. Ronaldo has the most international goals of all time. He beats Messi by 21. Let’s also take into consideration that, without Messi, Argentina would have 2 other World Cups, and without Ronaldo, Portugal would have nothing.

And in this recent World Cup, Messi had one of the best teams the world had ever seen with Julián Álvarez, Ángel Di María, Alejandro Garnacho, and Emi Martínez, while an aging Ronaldo had to lead his team of youngsters. Also, Argentina was awarded the most penalties this World Cup, most of which Messi took.                      

This further invalidates the “Penaldo” argument that the penalties padded his stats. However, Ronaldo has around only 40 more than Messi, who is number 2 on the all-time list for penalties. So, maybe “Pessi” is better fitting.

Messi, at the start of his career, was led by the world’s greatest players, his first goal was assisted by Ronaldinho! His team included the likes of Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and Carles Puyol. Initially, Ronaldo had to earn his spot on his local Portuguese team, and then move to Manchester United where he won them a UCL.

If we look at the more personal aspects of the game, it is clear that Messi is a very talented dribbler and playmaker, better than Ronaldo. However, this is completely outweighed by Ronaldo’s skills. Before his injury (2008), he too was a talented dribbler, shooter, free-kick taker, goal scorer, and finisher. After his injury in 2014, he changed to more of a striker and finisher. Even in the year that he was injured, he still won the Ballon d’Or, the most prestigious award that is winnable by any player.

Speaking of the Ballon d’Or, Messi has eight! That is three more than Ronaldo. However, let’s remember that the Ballon d’Or is a journalist-voted accolade. And this year the journalists were frankly wrong.

Many people agree that this year, it should have gone to Erling Haaland who won the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup, and broke plenty of records. Messi had a decent year but somehow they used the World Cup clause from 2022, which is outdated and amusing. In 2021, it should have gone to Robert Lewandoski, which many agreed on.

Honestly, Messi is FIFA’s poster boy and Ronaldo is the people’s champ.

Ronaldo is also Mr. UCL, winning five UEFA Champions Leagues and having the most UCL goals, assists, and appearances. It is almost as hard to win a UCL as it is to win a World Cup, if not harder! This is because there are two games in the knockout rounds, so flukes or lucky goals won’t matter at times.

Also, the talent pool is significantly greater than that of the World Cup since these European clubs usually gather the best players from these countries. Mohamed Salah, for example, is one of the best players in Europe right now, however for his national team they can’t seem to break into the knockout stage.

The debate between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will likely continue for years to come, with passionate arguments on both sides. While Messi’s dribbling and playmaking abilities are exceptional, Ronaldo’s consistency, longevity, and impact on the game make a strong case for him being considered one of the greatest players of all time.

Ultimately, the answer to who is better comes down to personal preference and interpretation of their respective contributions to the sport.

DISCLAIMER: This story will be updated according to the players’ performance.

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About the Contributor
Advaya Singh '27
Advaya Singh '27, Contributor
Advaya Singh is a student Class of 2027 at Strath Haven. He enjoys sports, science, and a hot take. If he's not writing stories for the Panther Press then you may find him at home with his mom and brother.
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