What's the story?
Former England and Barcelona striker Gary Lineker has explained the differences between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and has revealed why the mercurial Argentine has more edge in the longstanding 'greatest of all time' debate over his Portuguese counterpart.
In case you didn't know...
Messi and Ronaldo have been the subjects of one of football's most intense debates for over a decade and it is exactly this consistency that makes the conversation enduring.
The talismanic pair have raised the bar for other football players to unprecedented heights with their flair, goalscoring abilities and complementary consistency.
Both players, who are in their thirties, continue to break individual records and win titles with their respective clubs. While Messi led Barcelona to a consecutive La Liga title last season, Ronaldo helped Juventus to their eighth successive Serie A trophy.
Messi won the Pichichi Trophy and the European Golden Shoe for his scintillating exploits in front of goal last term. The Argentine netted 36 goals in the Spanish top-flight alone and tallied a massive 51 goals in all competitions for the Catalan giants.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo was named the Serie A Player of the Year in his first season in the Italian top-flight, scoring 21 league goals and providing eight assists for the Bianconeri.
The heart of the matter
Lineker, who is a long-time Messi superfan, has now explained why he would choose the Argentine over Ronaldo as the 'greatest player of all time'.
When asked to make the choice between the two in an interview with SportBible, he said,
"Messi. I love them both, but if you say on Twitter, ‘that's an unbelievably great goal from the wonderful Cristiano Ronaldo’ you'll get Messi fans on your case and if you say something brilliant about Messi, which I do a lot because he's ridiculous, you'll get Ronaldo fans on your case.
"You can love them both and admire them both which I do, but they're very different.
"Ronaldo's an athlete. He's driven, he's got the absolute best out of his game. He's the best header of the ball I've ever seen and the best goalscorer I've ever seen.
"But Messi is also as good a goalscorer as there's ever been and he's as good a passer as you'll ever see and as good a dribbler as you'll ever see.
"When I watch Ronaldo I admire him, when I watch Messi he gives me joy and for me, that's the difference."
While Messi is expected to be sidelined for Barcelona's La Liga opener against Athletic Bilbao on Friday, Ronaldo will likely feature for Juventus when they kick off their new campaign against Parma on August 24th.