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- Games: 416
- Goals: 420
- Assists: 156
- Strengths: Finishing, dribbling, pace, passing range/ability
- Weaknesses: Tracking back, penalties.
Lionel Messi's almost supernatural abilities have been evident since his debut at Barcelona. The little Argentine's game has largely stayed the same over the years. Somehow, he's managed to improve on his already frightening ability.
What has changed for Leo is his position and role in the side. Early in his career, under Frank Rijkaard, he played on the right of a front 3 along side Eto'o and Ronaldinho. It wasn't until Pep took over in 2008, that Messi truly announced himself.
Under Guardiola, Messi turned into a scoring and assisting phenomenon.
Scoring 73 goals in a season in 2011/12 as well as 91 in the calendar year of 2012. He also picked up 29 assists that season, meaning he was involved in 102 goals in 60 apps. To post numbers like that in the modern era is unheard of. I doubt anyone currently playing could replicate such a haul.
Post-Pep and more specifically under Enrique, Messi has evolved into a playmaker. Dropping deeper to initiate attacks as well as driving with the ball, committing defenders and creating space for off the ball runners. His productivity in front of goal hasn't decreased though. The Argentine has 47 goals in 46 appearances as of the writing of this article.
- Games: 387
- Goals: 395
- Assists: 111
- Strengths: Finishing (both feet), heading, anticipation in the box, pace, penalties.
- Weaknesses: tracking back, selfishness
Since his move to Real Madrid, the Portuguese forward has transformed from a rampaging winger into one of the most complete goalscorers in footballing history.
Ronaldo managed to turn himself into the 'perfect' attacker, combining pace, power and ruthless finishing to average over a goal a game in his 8 years at the Bernebeau. His best season, numbers wise, was 2014/15. 61 goals and 21 assists in 54 games. As he's aged, his influence on the pitch has decreased. His area of influence decreased drastically since 2013, coinciding with the arrival of Bale.
Ronaldo's greatest character trait is his determination. His longing for personal perfection and success is the reason he has achieved what he's achieved in the game. Although he can look like a petulant child at times, it's that same winning mentality that makes him who he is. Hard work works when talent doesn't.
Now 32, he's lost a yard of pace. If he reinvents himself again and focuses his efforts around the box, he can prolong his life as a goal scorer. The days of him dribbling past opponents at will are gone, it is safe to say that his goal records won't be beaten at Real for a while.
Messi and Ronaldo are the finest players of this generation. They will go down as greats of the game, but where would you rank them? For me, Messi is the greatest player I've ever seen play football. I'd say Ronaldo is the greatest goalscorer though. Both are Top 5 in history, I'll let you decide where you'd place them.
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