Cristiano Ronaldo News: The Juventus star may be the best player of the year but Gareth Bale is a tougher opponent to face, claims Micah Richards
What's the story?
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards has claimed that he had a tougher time going up against Gareth Bale than Cristiano Ronaldo, who he considers to be the best player of the year, owing to his international heroics.
In case you didn't know...
Richards, who has lifted the Premier League and the FA Cup with Manchester City, has faced both Ronaldo and Bale during his time with the English giants.
Bale rose to international stardom when he joined Tottenham Hotspur from Southampton in 2007. His performances led to interest from Real Madrid, who signed the player in 2013.
Since then, the Wales international has won a host of trophies like the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League, specifically helping the Spanish giants to one of the trophies by scoring in the 2013-14 European final. The former Spurs star, however, shares a tumultuous relationship with manager Zinedine Zidane, and has been out of the Frenchman's favour for a couple of years.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo, who left Los Blancos for Juventus last summer, enjoyed a decent debut season in Italy, winning the Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana. He also led Portugal to the inaugural UEFA Nations League title this summer, a feat that would help him as he goes head-to-head with Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk in the race for the The Best FIFA Men's Player award.
The heart of the matter
Richards, who retired in July, believes that while Van Dijk is a good player, Ronaldo is deserving of individual awards this year, owing to his international exploits.
Speaking to Goal, he said,
"I think Ronaldo is the best this year because what he did for his country was amazing. He and Messi are unbelievable, Van Dijk also was good but what Messi and Ronaldo doing is amazing."
However, when asked about the toughest opponent he's faced in his career, the former City star snubbed the Portuguese talisman in favour of his former Real Madrid teammate Bale.
"For me, it's Gareth Bale. When he was in Tottenham he was a top player and [he] still [is]. Me and him used to have one-on-one battles."
While Bale is set to lead Wales against Azerbaijan in Cardiff on Friday, Ronaldo will likely feature in Portugal's European Championship qualifier against Serbia on Saturday.