Opinion: Suggestions of Cristiano Ronaldo's decline are severely premature
When Lionel Messi was crowned winner of the Ballon d'Or for a record sixth time in December there was a great deal of talk that moving one ahead of his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo had settled the debate about who is the greatest player of all time once and for all. It appeared that Ronaldo, who will turn 35 in February, was being written off in the face of Messi's achievements and also those of the next generation coming through. The argument being that at his age Ronaldo would never be able to reach the previous levels of performance that allowed him to win the most prestigious individual honour in the game on five occasions earlier.
But if there were any remaining doubts about Ronaldo's talents, his form since finishing behind Messi and Virgil Van Dijk in 2019's vote has surely put them to bed once and for all.
His return to form since Messi won the 2019 version of the award highlights just how hungry he is for success and that the fire is still burning within Ronaldo.
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General consensus seems to be that he didn't win the 2019 award because of his lack of goals the previous season, and his statistics did drop as he scored 28 goals in 43 appearances. Compared to his Real Madrid form where he scored more than a goal a game it does represent a dip. However that should have been expected. The challenge of adapting to a new league, team and style of play shouldn't be underestimated after playing in Spain for so long (9years) for Real Madrid.
However since finishing third in the Ballon d'Or Ronaldo's form has been spectacular, scoring nine goals in his last seven games for his club including his first Serie A hat-trick, making him just the second player in history to notch hat-tricks in the English, Spanish, and Italian top flights.
Added to his spectacular form with Portugal, he has now scored 26 goals in 28 games for club and country in 2019-20. Not a bad total for somebody supposedly in decline and one that compares favourably with Messi who has scored 15 goals in 19 games - all for Barcelona.
Ronaldo may win another Ballon d'Or or he may not, but to suggest that Messi's latest win puts the question to bed about who is the greatest of all time is premature in the extreme.
Published 07 Jan 2020, 22:01 IST