The question of who the best player of all time it continues to be a contentious topic on five-a-side fields and bar stools around the world.
Who is the GOAT between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo? It is the largest football controversy to arise since the “Diego Maradona or Pele?” controversy.
The debate over who is superior between the Argentine empyrean and the Portuguese phenomenon has preoccupied football fans’ minds for the past ten years and will continue to do so in the future.
Club and country allegiances can skew opinions, and personalities can affect how well a player is viewed, with most people having a clear idea of whom they would choose.
So who is the best person that has ever lived? GOAL has examined how the two genuinely compare head-to-head so you can enter the never-ending conversation well-informed, regardless of whom you like.
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1. Team goals
Club aides, 2.
3. Champions League, 4. World Cup, 5. Other countries, and 6, Titles
7. Personal honors
Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo: Club goals
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Season||Lionel Messi|
Just barely, Ronaldo has more club goals than Messi, however, it should be noted that the Manchester United star has two more seasons of experience than his Argentine rival.
Over 690 club goals have been scored in total by each of them in their respective careers, with the five seasons between 2009–10 and 2014–15 proving especially fruitful as they encouraged one another to reach new heights.
While Ronaldo presently holds the advantage in terms of total goals, Messi has the advantage in terms of season average (37.9 to 35), having reached a high of 73 goals in 2011–12, however his average plummeted after a dismal first season with PSG in 2021–22.
Ronaldo’s highest season total was 61, which he attained in 2014–15. From 2010–11 to 2015–16, he consistently scored more than 50 goals.
Though Messi’s rate dropped after joining PSG, it’s interesting to note that while Ronaldo’s season totals have significantly decreased recently—he failed to surpass the 30-goal threshold in 2018–19 during his first season at Juventus—Messi’s have remained constant.
Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo: Club assists (Opta)
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Season||Lionel Messi|
The difference between Messi and Ronaldo in terms of assists has grown significantly as their respective roles develop.
When selecting which player is the GOAT, the fact that Messi not only scores goals but also assists many of them is a key factor. Ronaldo also contributes his fair number of goals, but the gap in this area is glaring.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League statistics
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Champions League stat||Lionel Messi|
|0.77||Goals per game||0.79|
Ronaldo, who excelled in the competition with teams like Manchester United and Real Madrid in particular, is the all-time highest scorer in the Champions League.
Messi, who isn’t far behind and has a little higher goal-per-game ratio than the Man United player, has a decent chance of passing him if he keeps well in the competition.
In addition, Ronaldo has surpassed Iker Casillas to hold the record for the most appearances in the Champions League overall.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup statistics
|Cristiano Ronaldo||World Cup stat||Lionel Messi|
|0.38||Goals per game||0.50|
Both countries had never won the World Cup until Argentina did so in 2022 as a result of a succession of outstanding performances by Messi.
Before the 2022 World Cup, Portugal’s great Ronaldo had scored more goals in fewer games, but Messi changed that in Qatar when he helped his nation win the prized championship with an incredible seven goals and three assists.
The PSG star scored in every round of the competition, concluded his stellar showing with a brace against France in the championship game, and then added another goal from 12 yards as Argentina prevailed in the penalty shootout (3-3 AET).
The Selecao’s run to the semi-final in 2006, when they were defeated by France before losing the third-place play-off against Germany, was the furthest Ronaldo has advanced Portugal.
International Statistics for Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Stat||Lionel Messi|
|0.62||Goals per game||0.58|
Messi and Ronaldo have somewhat comparable international histories, but Ronaldo boasts a larger number of victories, in part because his senior Portugal career began two years earlier than Messi’s with Argentina.
At Euro 2020, Ronaldo tied Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals for his country before breaking it with two goals against the Republic of Ireland to become the all-time leading scorer for the international team.
Even though Messi recently surpassed the great Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s all-time leading scorer, he is still far behind Ronaldo in that regard.
Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo: Titles
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Competition||Lionel Messi|
|1||European Championship / Copa America||1|
|1||Nations League / Finalissima||1|
|4||Club World Cup||3|
*National Cups solely refers to a nation’s premier national cup competition, such as the FA Cup, Copa del Rey, etc.
Messi and Ronaldo both have sizable trophy collections, but Messi has an advantage in league titles after winning La Liga 10 times with Barcelona and Ligue 1 once with PSG. Ronaldo has won seven league championships, but unlike Messi, he can lay claim to having done it in three distinct nations (England, Spain, and Italy). This, in some people’s opinion, strengthens his case for the GOAT title.
Because of his passion for the Champions League and his nickname “Mr. Champions League,” Ronaldo enjoys an advantage over Messi in that league. The Manchester United player has also achieved a great deal for Portugal on the international scene, winning the UEFA Nations League and the European Championship.
Early in his international career, Messi and Argentina had four disappointing Copa America campaigns, three of which resulted in losses in the championship game. However, he won the Copa in 2021, followed by the Finalissima in 2022 and the World Cup in 2022. Messi also owns an Olympic gold medal.
Individual accolades between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Award||Lionel Messi|
|2||The Best FIFA Men’s Player||1|
|4||European Golden Shoe||6|
|0||World Cup Golden Ball||2|
|4||UEFA Player of the Year||3|
|14||FIFPro World XI||14|
|4||Player of the Year (league)||6|
For the past ten years and more, Ronaldo and Messi’s duel has been the defining aspect of modern football.
When Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or in 2019, he overtook Ronaldo in the race and solidified his position as the winner in that category with his seventh in 2021.
Although Ronaldo has earned more UEFA Player of the Year awards and FIFA’s new “The Best” honors, Messi has received more league Player of the Year honors. Ronaldo has been recognized as Player of the Year in England, Spain, and Italy.
The fact that both players have appeared on the FIFPro World XI 14 times shows how closely contested the race has been. Messi has won the European Golden Shoe a record six times, two more than Ronaldo, and is narrowly ahead of his adversary overall.