The debate about who is the greatest footballer of all-time is one which has the power to cause an argument in an empty room.
Pele, Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo inevitably feature in the conversation and each have strong claims to be called the G.O.A.T.
However, if a recent study by football betting site Betway is to be believed, Argentinian superstar Diego Maradona is number one on the list.
They did use real-life goats to determine the outcome, which does temper enthusiasm about the legitimacy of their findings!
All joking aside, Maradona’s efforts for club and country mark him down as one of the all-time greats, but we believe one of his compatriots deserves the accolade.
Lionel Messi’s performances over a sustained period of time have pushed football to new heights – quite simply, he is the G.O.A.T.
To push Messi’s claims even further, here are three reasons why the Paris Saint-Germain and Argentinian maestro is top of the pile.
Goals and assists
Messi has currently scored six less goals at club level than Ronaldo, but he started his career two years later than his big rival.
The pair were part of a remarkable era in Spanish football between 2009 and 2015, scoring goals for fun as Barcelona and Real Madrid dominated.
Where Messi has the edge over Ronaldo, and other contenders for the title of G.O.A.T., is his unselfishness in creating chances for his teammates.
He has racked up significantly more assists than Ronaldo during his career, and still has time to extend his advantage over the next few years.
While Ronaldo has scored more Champions League goals than Messi, the Argentinian’s all-round play makes him the better footballer.
When it comes to club football in any country, two trophies matter more than the rest – the league title and Champions League.
Messi and Ronaldo stand head and shoulders above the rest in this department, having racked up 27 between them during their careers.
Ronaldo (five) has won one more Champions League titles than Messi (four), but his tally of seven league titles is four adrift of his Argentine rival.
Messi has the chance to add to his tally this season with Paris Saint-Germain, while Ronaldo’s top-level club career is over after agreeing a move to Saudi Arabia.
They each have one major international title on their CV – Ronaldo with Portugal at the 2016 European Championship and Messi with Argentina at the 2021 Copa America.
While strong cases can be made for the other players in the running for the G.O.A.T. title, one factor gives Messi the edge above the rest – teamwork.
The Argentinian playmaker has forged several successful link-ups with his teammates during his career including Ronaldinho, Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
Zidane is perhaps closest to Messi of the G.O.A.T quintet in terms of team ethic, but Messi’s longevity at the top gives him the edge.
Messi’s standards have rarely dropped, regardless of which team he has played for or who was in charge of the team.
Leading Argentina to success at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar would be the icing in the cake for the greatest footballer of all-time.