“Excellence in football is very difficult to achieve” – When Anthony Martial settled ‘greatest footballer’ debate dominated by Ronaldo and Messi

Martial gave his verdict on Messi in 2016.
Martial (inset) gave his verdict on Messi (right) in 2016.

Manchester United striker Anthony Martial settled the debate between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi over who was the greatest in 2016.

The Frenchman was asked who the greatest footballer was six years ago. He responded by alluding to the fact that excellence is difficult to achieve and that Messi was closest to achieving the feat.

Martial said (via the Daily Star):

“Excellence in football is very difficult to achieve. When you look at the players who are achieving greatness and excellence, I think the player who comes closest to this is Messi."

The Frenchman continued his analysis by describing the qualities Messi possesses:

“He has almost everything; he’s all-rounder, and he is consistent season after season.”

The United forward's comments came before Argentina's 2022 FIFA World Cup triumph, with many vowing that Messi is the undisputed greatest player in history.

The World Cup trophy is yet another accomplishment the Paris Saint-Germain attacker now has in his incredible career. Messi has also won the Champions League four times, Copa America, La Liga ten times and Ligue 1 once, among other honours.

Moreover, he has won the Ballon d'Or a record seven times, scoring 793 goals and contributing 350 assists in 1003 appearances during his career. Nevertheless, many still argue that Ronaldo's legacy is more complete, considering his phenomenal ability to succeed in different leagues.

The Portuguese great has won league titles in England, Spain and Italy. He has won the Champions League five times, including three times in a row. Ronaldo has broken numerous records, becoming the all-time goalscorer in club football with 701 goals in 949 assists. He also holds the record for international goals with 118 in 196 games for Portugal.

However, Messi winning the World Cup seems to have firmly placed GOAT status on his shoulders, with Martial calling him so in 2016.

Kevin De Bruyne tips Erling Haaland to follow in Ronaldo and Messi's goalscoring footsteps

Haaland could hit Ronaldo and Messi's goalscoring heights.
Haaland could hit Ronaldo and Messi's goalscoring heights.

If any player comes close to having a career the iconic duo have had, they will have made their mark.

Many of the new generation are being touted as the heirs to the legendary pair's thrones in terms of goalscoring. However, the Premier League striker on everybody's lips right now is Manchester City's prolific frontman Erling Haaland.

The Norweigan arrived at the Etihad from Borussia Dortmund in the summer for £54 million and has already bagged 24 goals in 19 appearances across competitions.

He boasts a record of 159 goals in 202 career appearances. Haaland's teammate De Bruyne has spoken glowingly of his expectations for the striker to continue being a goalscoring machine, saying (via Daily Post):

“He already has about 200 goals, so he can probably go to 600, 700 or 800 if he stays fit and does the things he does. Erling is a top-level striker.”

The 22-year-old missed the FIFA World Cup, as Norway didn't qualify, but returned to goalscoring form in City's 3-2 Carabao Cup win over Liverpool on December 22.

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Edited by Matthew Guyett
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