Lionel Messi awarded GOAT status over Cristiano Ronaldo as scientific research highlights greater contributions to team success

Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo splitGetty/GOAL
  • Messi and Ronaldo dominated football
  • Heated debate over who is better
  • Data analysis says Messi is gratest ever

WHAT HAPPENED? The pair have dominated world football for 15 years, winning 12 Ballons d'Or between them. The debate over which of the two is the greatest to have ever graced the game has been raised constantly over the years, but Liverpool's director of research Dr. Graham says the data makes it clear who is better.

WHAT THEY SAID: "It’s Messi," he said at the Cheltenham Science Festival, as he discussed the sophisticated models used to rank the pair by their contribution to the rest of the team. "The difference is that Messi is also a world-class attacking midfielder. The chances he creates for his team-mates are an order of magnitude greater than Ronaldo. Messi does two jobs brilliantly. Ronaldo does one job brilliantly. That’s the difference."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: With Messi, 35, heading to Inter Miami this summer and Ronaldo plying his trade in Saudi Arabia with Al-Nassr, their dominance of the game has already begun to wane. Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland are tipped to replace the iconic duo at the top of the sport, and Dr. Graham says it is the Frenchman who is currently on top.

Article continues below

“Any statistical model will tell you that Kylian Mbappe is the best player in Europe at the moment,” he added.


messi world cup(C)Getty ImagesLionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo Saudi All Stars 2022-23Getty ImagesCristiano Ronaldo Al-Nassr 2023Getty

WHAT NEXT? Messi will continue his career in the United States when he completes his switch to MLS next month, while Ronaldo prepares to challenge for the Saudi Pro League title with Al-Nassr.

Who will win the Saudi Pro League top scorer award this season?

76386 Votes

Thanks for voting.

Results will be shared soon.

Who will win the Saudi Pro League top scorer award this season?

  • 70%Cristiano Ronaldo
  • 9%Karim Benzema
  • 8%Neymar
  • 6%Roberto Firmino
  • 1%Malcom
  • 6%Other
76386 Votes