“Messi can run a game. Ronaldo cannot do that.”
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville had a debate about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on Monday Night Football, where Neville declared that Ronaldo is the greatest footballer in history. Carragher, however, disputed that assessment and said that Messi was the sport’s best-ever player.
Neville’s argument boiled down to Ronaldo’s record of scoring a wider variety of goals. Yet, Carragher pointed out that Messi has a better scoring rate and the source of those goals were not as relevant as the goals themselves.
Gary Neville on the Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi debate.
“If you were a manager and you could pick any player in history to come off the bench at their peak to win you a game and you only had one substitution left, who would it be?
“It would be Cristiano Ronaldo. It would absolutely be Cristiano Ronaldo,” Neville said.
The former Manchester United defender did not appear to question why the world’s best footballer would be on the bench with 10 minutes to go in a match. Instead, he spoke about Ronaldo’s record in front of goal and highlighted the different ways he has managed to find the net throughout his career.
“I looked at his goal breakdown. He can score with his left foot, his wrong foot. He can score with his right foot. He can score from distance. He is probably the best poacher now in world football.
“He can score penalties. And if you stick him in the box and hang it up there he will go and score with a header. He might even score with a free kick.
“So if you think about who is the greatest player of all time, I do think he is the greatest football player who has ever lived.
“He is the player who could win me a football match in the most different ways. He is the most complete player.
“There is no doubt that Messi has scored an obscene amount of goals, he is a ridiculous player,” added Neville.
“But Ronaldo, the three big differences are the headers, that Ronaldo has scored four or five times more, the wrong-footed goals, that Ronaldo has scored 30 or 40 per cent more, and he has scored more penalties.
“It just took me to the point where he is more complete.
“The international goals, the Champions League wins, in teams that were not as good as the teams that Messi played in, just takes me to the point where I think he is the greatest player of all time.”
Jamie Carragher on the Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi debate.
Carragher strongly disputed Neville’s claims and said that ‘there is no way in the world’ that Ronaldo is the greatest footballer of all time. The former Liverpool defender argued that Messi was.
The Sky Sports pundit pointed out that Messi has a better scoring record than his rival, and he is also a playmaker, whereas Ronaldo is more of a goal poacher.
“You are talking about the different types of goals,” Carragher said.
“It does not matter how a ball goes in the net. It does not matter if one is a header or a free kick – Messi has a better goal record than Ronaldo.
“Messi is also a playmaker. Messi can run a game. Ronaldo cannot do that. Again, not a criticism. But there is no way in the world he is the greatest player of all time.
“You talk about who you would want coming off the bench. Messi has scored double the amount of goals coming off the bench. It is a ridiculous thing to say. It does not matter if Messi’s goals all come with his left foot, the stats prove he has more chance of scoring.
“Two wonderful players. In terms of all the attributes, Ronaldo is a more complete player. He can do things that Messi can’t in terms of his weaker foot and in the air.
“But Messi can take you to a place where you can’t actually believe what you are seeing. What Ronaldo does is what other players can do, Messi can do things you have never seen before…
“There has been a lot of fanfare with United in terms of ex-players, I think you just got a little bit carried away there.”
Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi.
Strangely, Neville said that Ronaldo – the best footballer in history in his opinion – will not win be enough to help Man United the Premier League title this season.
He also said that ultimately in the debate, it was wrong to say the other side was incorrect because the views were based on a personal opinion – despite highlighting the respective scoring records of the two players and using it to conclude that Ronaldo was better than Messi.
Carragher, however, rightly stated that Messi has a better scoring rate and is a better all-round footballer. Based on the eye test and the statistics, Messi is clearly the better of the two, both of whom are all-time greats.
You can watch the full debate below.