Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo: Those who played with both have their say
CAPE TOWN – According to former Manchester United winger David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo is not at the same level as Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.
Messi and Ronaldo have dominated world football over the last decade-and-a-half, winning countless individual and team honours between them, which has led to debates on who the better player is.
Beckham, who played for Manchester United and Real Madrid has risked the ire of both clubs’ fans by claiming Messi was streets ahead of Ronaldo when it came to ability on the football field.
“He [Messi] is alone in his class as a player. It is impossible that there is another like him,” Beckham said in an interview with Argentinean outlet Telam.
“He, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who is not at his level, are both above the rest,” said the former England captain.
But, what do the players who played alondside both Messi and Ronaldo say?
Paulo Dybala (Juventus and Argentina)
“It is impossible to make a comparison between the two of them or say who is the best, says Dybala who plays alongside Ronaldo at Juventus, and Messi at international level.
“They are at a level on a par with each other and well above everybody else and that has been the case for several years.”
Deco (Barcelona and Portugal)
"From the outset, it is clear that Leo and Cristiano are the greatest,” says former Barcelona, Chelsea and Portugal midfielder.
"Especially because no one thought they could take so many years to this level, but the one that impressed me most despite not being so decisive was Ronaldinho.
"For me, he will always be the best.
"We met in Barcelona and immediately connected with him, the moments I lived with him are difficult to compare to anything. It was magical."
Angel di Maria (Real Madrid and Argentina)
"It was a dream to have the possibility to play with [Wayne] Rooney, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, Cristiano [Ronaldo], Leo [Messi]...
“Leo is the best of the four.
"With all the great players I have played with, it's hard to choose. But if I had to pick one, it would be Leo.
“Messi is the best in the world – there is no question about that.
“When I am an old man I will tell my grandchildren bedtime stories about when I won the Champions League, hopefully when I won the World Cup...
"But most of all I will tell them their grandfather used to play with Lionel Messi.”
Gabriel Heinze (Manchester United and Argentina)
“If I had to pay for one player I would choose [Ronaldo].
“I don’t think Cristiano will get any better as a footballer, he is already next to God in his ability.”
But in 2016, he added: “Leo is inexplicable. Footballistically, he does not come from this planet. And as a person, he leads such a quiet life that is admirable.”
Despite his glowing praise, technically he did not overturn his decision to name Ronaldo in 2008...
Gonzalo Higuin (Real Madrid, Juventus and Argentina)
“[Ronaldo and I] had already played together with Real. Many years have passed, and I have found another player, a more mature person, with a family.
“I enjoyed playing alongside him before and I am glad that we are back together.
“I’m a forward and I have the chance to play with Messi. It’s a privilege to play alongside him.
“Every time he gets the ball you need to be on your toes because you know that at any moment he can give you a great ball or pull your marker away from you.
“He does things that a striker can anticipate but a defender can’t.”
Andre Gomes (Barcelona and Portugal)
“[Ronaldo] is a very important player, who is always present and ready to play.
“He is very serious about the responsibility of leading our country, we have great spirit, and he’s a great example for all of us.
“Everyone knows that Messi is very, very good. He does things in games that you cannot explain; he just knows different things and can do it.
“In training it is a show, because every day he can invent something new.
"You think you’re used to it, but there is always one day you go to the dressing room surprised by something he has done.”