Former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole weighed on the Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate earlier this year, ranking the Argentine higher than his Portuguese counterpart. The BT Sports pundit revealed that only Brazilian great Pele can stand alongside Messi in terms of the greatness of their respective careers.
Over the years, an eternal debate has raged over who the greater footballer is between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The duo provided some of the greatest entertainment seen in football history, dominating their era like never before.
Ronaldo and Messi have won all of the most prestigious individual accolades and trophies available in world football, doing so multiple times. They have a combined total of nine UEFA Champions League titles and 17 league titles to their name. They have also managed to spend nearly two decades at the top of the sport, something unprecedented.
Speaking to the BT Sports crew, Joe Cole believes that the debate is no longer between Messi and Ronaldo, but Messi and Pele after the forward won the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina.
"There’s always the debate because it’s always going to be about what you think. I think what [Messi] has put to bed, though, is the debate of this generation because he’s gone and completed it now, he’s won everything in the game.”
Cole also revealed his admiration for Lionel Messi, stating that he has never seen a player like him. He believes his achievements have surpassed those of former greats such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona and Ronaldo.
“I’ve never seen a player like him, what he can do with the ball, his ability, his personality - everything. And it’s just a joy to watch him every time."
"I think he’s the greatest player of all time. Pele is the only one who can have an argument in that case. I don’t think CR7 or R9 [Ronaldo Nazario] or [Diego] Maradona - I think he’s gone above them. He stands next to Pele now.”
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo changed the face of football
Since their emergence as global superstars in the late 2000s, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the football scene. They have won the Ballon d'Or seven and five times, respectively, reaching previously unattainable heights.
Both men have been neck-and-neck in their careers, often competing to break records and create history. Ronaldo has scored the most goals in football history (850), and Messi has the most trophies in history (44).
In winning the World Cup last December, Lionel Messi took a significant step ahead of his long-time rival. Many, like Joe Cole, would rightly argue that unless Ronaldo somehow manages to win the trophy before his retirement, Messi will be the GOAT.