Who is the king of football in 2023?: It must not come as a surprise to anyone that Lionel Messi is one of the greatest footballers of all time. His skill on the ball and eye for creating chances, coupled with his incredible consistency for about two decades now make him an all-time great.
He, along with Cristiano Ronaldo have been the candidates of being the greatest footballer of all time of their generation. As per the Who is the king of football in 2023? The question we ask today, however, is a little more modest as compared to the GOAT debate. Today we ask, is Lionel Messi the greatest footballer of the 21st century?
Who is the King of Football in 2023?
One’s answer to this question depends upon one thing, do you prefer Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? A person’s answer to this question is also in their opinion the best player of the century. While all-time greats like Zinedine Zidane, Luis Suarez, and Gianluigi Buffon played their best football in this century, it would be near impossible to argue that any of their legacies compares to those of Messi or Ronaldo.
Where do we start the conversation? Let us look at the goal contribution of the two players across their careers. While Messi has scored 821 goals and assisted 361 in 1044 appearances, Ronaldo has scored 862 and assisted 268 in 1188 appearances.
As per the Who is the king of football in 2023? So, while the Portuguese has more goals in his career, the Argentine maestro has more goal contributions. This argument goes even more in Messi’s favour when we see that he scored a goal in every 104 minutes he played on average, this number is 112 minutes for CR7.
As per the Who is the king of football in 2023? Next, we look at their league performances at the club level. While Messi has won 12 League titles with Barcelona and PSG, Ronaldo has won seven across his career in a similar time span. Messi also pips Ronaldo in goals for their club with 704 as compared to 701.
An avenue where Ronaldo betters Messi in the Champions League. Not only has the Portuguese won the prestigious trophy 5-times, he is also the highest goal and assists maker in tournament history with 140 and 41 goals respectively. While Messi has won the Champions League “only” 4-times, scoring 129 and assisting 40 in the process. However, he has more goals per 90 in the league as compared to Cristiano.
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As for personal accolades. Lionel Messi has won seven Ballon d’Ors as compared to Ronaldo’s 5. He also won six European Golden Shoes as compared to Ronaldo’s four. Messi also has the record for the most goals scored in a season with 91 in 2011-12. The two are neck-to-neck in other individual trophies, with Messi slightly ahead of Ronaldo.
The last point of comparison between the two is their career for their national side. Both of them are arguably the greatest players their country ever produced, Cristiano Ronaldo might be the greatest men’s international footballer of all time, his 127 goals for Portugal are a record for any player for their national team. Messi’s 106 goals put him third on the list behind Iran’s Ali Daei. Both players have also won their respective continental titles too, Ronaldo winning the European Championship in 2016, and Messi winning Copa America with Argentina in 2021.
As per the Who is the king of football in 2023? But there is something that Messi has that Ronaldo does not, a World Cup trophy. A trophy that eluded the Argentine great for all his career was finally won by him in 2022.
So, having looked at all the data and the influence behind it for both – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, we can now answer the question asked at the start of this article. Is Lionel Messi the greatest footballer of the 21st century?
Well, you cannot say no to it. But at the same time, we should not forget that you can put strong arguments for Ronaldo as well considering on what scale you are measuring the greatness.