Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are widely regarded as two of the finest players to have played the game. Both players have been standout performers for club and country, scoring goals and winning big titles.
Messi and Ronaldo have been the epitome of sustained brilliance, consistency and longevity. Despite being on the wrong side of 30, the duo has shown no signs of slowing down any time soon. They are the only players to score over 100 Champions League goals and win at least five Ballon d'Or awards.
Ronaldo won his first Capocannonieri award last season, and starred for Portugal with five goals and an assist in their unsuccessful title defense at Euro 2020. Meanwhile, Messi enjoyed another prolific club season before leading Argentina to the Copa America 2021 title, scoring four goals and providing five assists.
Both players have moved to different clubs this summer, with Ronaldo returning to Manchester United and Messi joining PSG. Nevertheless, they are widely expected to continue their stellar exploits in their new surroundings.
Over the years, many great players, former and present, have had their say on the Messi-Ronaldo debate. On that note, here's a look at five such players who picked Messi over Ronaldo:
#5 Gerard Pique
Gerard Pique has been one of the standout performers for club and country, especially in the last decade. The Barcelona centre-back is one of a handful of players to have played with both Messi and Ronaldo, winning the Champions League with both players.
Pique, who won the 2008 Champions League with Ronaldo, has won a plethora of titles, including two continental trebles with Messi. While acknowledging that both Messi and Ronaldo are a cut above the rest, it is unsurprising to see Pique pick Messi over the latter:
He told BT Sport in this regard:
“We’re not only talking two of the best players but two of the best in the history of the sport. Messi has a talent nobody else has. His speed is brutal with the ball at his feet and he doesn’t run more than two metres. It’s impossible to catch him.
“Cristiano is a very different type of player. He is tall, strong and powerful. He can do everything – take penalties, free kicks, he’s good with his head, good in one-on-ones. I always say that Messi isn’t human and Cristiano is the best of the humans.”
Pique played for more than a decade with Messi before the latter moved to PSG this summer.
#4 Angel Di Maria
Angel Di Maria is another player who has played with both Messi and Ronaldo. While the Argentine played with Ronaldo at Real Madrid, he is now playing with Messi after the latter arrived at PSG this summer.
Di Maria, who has enjoyed success with both players, has been playing with Messi in Argentinian colors for a while. The PSG winger, who scored the winner in the Copa America 2021 final, said the following about Messi and Ronaldo in two different interviews:
“Cristiano is a monster,” Di Maria told TyC Sports
As for Messi, Di Maria told Sport360:
“Messi is the best in the world – there is no question about that. “We have seen time and time again that he wins games on his own when the team is not performing, but the media expects him to always be the hero.
“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 that their grandfather used to play with Lionel Messi.”
Di Maria has won a La Liga (2011-12) and Champions League (2013-14) title with Ronaldo. He also won Copa America 2021 with Argentina alongside Messi this summer.