The post ‘Messi vs Ronaldo’ era

Since Cristiano Ronaldo picked up the award in 2008, the FIFA World Player of the year, or Ballon D’or as it is now titled, has been reserved exclusively for the pair of Ronaldo and his La Liga rival, Lionel Messi.

The lack of challengers to the crown isn’t something that we as fans necessarily complain about, though. The duo are considered on a completely different level to any of their colleagues and watching one of the greatest ever individual battles for supremacy unfold has been a joy, and it promises to continue for at least a few more seasons yet.


In the campaign just gone, it was Messi who stole the show after his contributions to Barcelona’s treble win. The Argentine scored 58 goals and recorded 28 assists with mouth-watering displays against Manchester City and Bayern Munich amongst his individual highlights.

Messi has been voted the world’s best player on four occasions and over the past decade has developed into arguably the greatest player of all time.

In January of this year, however, Messi was forced to watch on as Ronaldo claimed the Ballon D’or for his remarkable 2014, in which the Real Madrid star scored 52 goals and played a crucial role in Los Blancos Champions League win mid way through the year.

Last season saw the Portuguese captain notch 61 times but the term ended trophyless for his side. The 30-year-old has picked up FIFA’s top individual accolade on 3 occasions and after Messi’s showings during the second half of last season, we can expect something of a response from Ronaldo in the upcoming campaign.

Based on the form shown by both players last season, neither seems likely to slow down anytime soon and so it’s far too early to eulogize. However, this great era of dominance has to come to an end sooner or later.

So what will be left in their wake? It’s a big ask, but Europe’s elite young stars will be hoping they can fill the enormous void and take centre stage.

Given the nature of modern football, most fans are well aware of the up and coming stars touted to project themselves to the very top of the game. Here are some of the most likely heirs to the thrown.

Eden Hazard

Last season saw the Belgian winger reach his biggest heights to date after the PFA player of the season helped secure the title for Chelsea. The 24 year old has long been mooted as a potential Ballon D’or winner and his progression is gathering pace.

Manager Jose Mourinho has hailed his star man as ‘one of the top three players in the world’, high praise if perhaps a little premature. Hazard scored 14 Premier league goals last term and should he improve upon that record, it will only add to the growing opinion that the former Lille man is destined for greatness.


Paul Pogba

This summer, following another impressive season for Juventus on their run to the Champions League final, Pogba became one of football’s biggest obsessions. His excellent campaign came off the back of a series of dominant displays for France during last year’s World Cup, earning him the title of Young Player of the Tournament.

Pursued by every top club in Europe, the 22-year-old looks set to stay in Turin for the time being but a move to either Barcelona or Real Madrid appears likely in the near future. Famously, he left Manchester United on a free transfer in 2012 after becoming fed up at the lack of opportunities afforded to him by then boss Sir Alex Ferguson, and Pogba is surely one of the Scots biggest regrets.

Given the praise he has received from compatriots Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry, the powerful midfielder looks set to develop into one of Europe’s biggest stars.

Memphis Depay

The youngest player in this list at 21, Depay still has a long way to go, but the early signs are good. Signed by Manchester United this summer from PSV, his performances last season commanded a £25 million fee.

The Netherlands International scored 22 goals as his side won the Eridivisie title. Depay has made no secret of his intentions to emulate the success of former United star Ronaldo and appears to have the attitude to go just as far.

Hailed in recent years for his tireless attempts to improve, combined with his massive talents, Old Trafford faithful may have a future club legend to celebrate.



The most talented Brazilian of his generation, Neymar joined Messi in helping Barcelona win the treble last season, scoring 39 times and assisting seven. The former Santos youngster has already established himself as one of the best attackers in the world and at just 23, he is fifth on the all time top-scoring charts for his country with 44.

With the weight of a nation on his shoulders, Neymar led the Selecao to the semi finals of the World Cup on home soil last summer before his absence against Germany through injury left Brazil scarcely short of inspiration in a 7-1 loss.

If he can avoid a similarly premature decline to fellow countrymen such as Ronaldinho, Neymar could sweep the individual accolades for years to come and perhaps become the greatest Brazilian player of all time.

Gareth Bale

After a largely disappointing season, Bale will be hoping to return to the form which earned him a £77 million move to Real Madrid in 2013. His debut season in Spain was impressive, with the Welshman forming part of the famous BBC with Ronaldo and Benzema, as Real became European champions.

During the past 12 months however, the 26-year-old has seen his stock with Madrid fans plummet. Branded ‘El Chupon’ for his percieved ball hogging, Bale appears determined to win over the Bernabeu faithful next season, despite interest from the Premier League’s top clubs.

Another player whose national team is largely dependant upon, the former Spurs star has been at the forefront of Wales’ charge towards next summer’s Euro’s in France. Despite last season’s club form, there’s no doubting Bale’s huge potential, which, if he can fulfil, should see him overtake his Real teammate Ronaldo in the not too distant future.

The plethora of football’s growing stars should provide its audience with just enough excitement once the current great’s talents have waned. However, a rivalry quite like that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi is unlikely to recur. Perhaps we should savour it while we can.

The Author

Patrick Mills

23 year old Psychology student, Coach and Writer. Link to Tactical Theory and Sports Psychology website below.

15 thoughts on “The post ‘Messi vs Ronaldo’ era

  1. I think Eden Hazard and Neymar will rival next, neither of which will come close to the Messi / Ronaldo’s rivalry, amazing!

  2. Why try to predict the future of football and the players? The answer is obvious. Using quantum physics I have calculated that the world will implode once CR7 or Messi stop playing.

  3. Ronaldo always has been and always will be better than Messi. Ronaldo proved he is the best both in La Liga & the Premier League. Messi is arguably the most over-hyped player of all time and anyone who refers to him as the greatest ever is delusional.

  4. I believe for the past few seasons, Messi and Ronaldo had been the best and to this point they still are,
    as for this year there is not doubt in my mind that Messi has been the best and ought to win the trophy
    again maybe in the near future will be Neymar or, even Suarez

  5. Self proclaimed football expert is expressing his ignorance on the subject. Messi is naturally gifted and performs his tricks on the football pitch without practice. Messi enjoys playing this beautiful game pretty much like former great Ronaldinho. We are lucky to be alive to watch Messi play. Ronaldo has to wake 4am every day to practice tricks and once on the pitch he tries too hard to impress coz it’s not naturally in his blood. Judge for yourself.

  6. Hey I’ve only played or coached high level football for over 25+ years but what would I know right? You probably can’t even juggle a ball 30 times in a row so I would just keep quite. The fact that you knocking a player for training hard shows your level if ignorance and hatred. You don’t like Ronaldo on a personal level because you are jealous. My points all still stand that Ronaldo is better than Messi, I would love to see Messi leave barca and go to Man Utd and win the Champions league with them but he can’t do that. Messi is over-hyped (not over-rated to be clear) by the media because typically media members who have never played the game selves relate better to the average looking short figured Messi than they can to Ronaldo who they can never relate to.

  7. Ronaldo is not fit to carry Messi’s jockstrap! One has to train and work countless hours to achieve results (Ronaldo) and the other has pure talent. 91 goals in a calendar year says it all.

  8. I do not understand your argument, itself is an illusion, Ronaldo wanted to play with a bigger and good team so why does Messi go for something lower? He started bigger and he became the biggest. So are you advising him to go for smaller things? There is nobody who can look for a demotion. I believe that Messi cannot leave the giant s to go to anywhere. May be if he was to be in Bayern or Chelsea, then he would go to Barcelona, he would really be sick.

  9. Two of the greatest players of all time and you still cant recognize real talent. People like you are either delusional or mentally incompetent.

  10. The difference is replace Messi with CR7 on the ARG squad and watch ARG win everything. You see, the ARG squad is, on paper, the strongest and most expensive squad at the international level. The argument to request Messi to leave Barca and win the CL in a different league holds true since Messi can’t perform well for his national team. Portugal, a lesser squad, has seen CR do better with what he has. This is the re-occuring story for CR. Your “talented” Messi doesn’t seem to display this talent when he’s play for Argentina.

  11. They are 2 things in football one who is Naturally gifted the other who train it out to get it, Messi is born for it CR7 train to get it out, that is why you see Messi don’t strongly with Ball CR7 do u need to watch their match and see the clear mark there both of them are good but one most sit in the throne (MESSI )

  12. Ronaldo remains de world greatest player of all time. He won d ballon d’or in england ad also in spain which no player have ever done in recent history. If messi is really d best, he should switch to anoda club lets know how good he will be and how he will lift d trophy again.. #zech

  13. I believe Messi is better as he is more complete as footballer in terms of technical ability. Messi is thought of as 3 world class players in one while Ronaldo is merely an amazing poacher. Why does switching to another club also be required to be the ‘best’, because then Pele who only played with Santos in the Brazilian league cannot be considered.

  14. As we argue lets be reminded that we are talking about the beautiful game of football or soccer as the Americas call it. The talent in Messi has shown that its not by power and jumbo size that he overcomes opponents. When Messi plays it makes me think its a different game or he is from another planet. CR7 is ordinary and should join Bolt in 100 and 200 meter races. In a few years time we shall have a 100 more CR7ns but not a single Messi. Lets clone him and declare him rare protected species.

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