In a 2018 interview, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone admitted that he would sign Lionel Messi instead of Cristiano Ronaldo for his team. The Argentine coach claimed his compatriot was a better player when surrounded by ‘great players’, while the Portuguese would fit better in a squad with ‘normal players’.
Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the sport for the past decade and a half, sharing 12 Ballon d’Or awards between them. Both superstars were at their best in La Liga, scoring a stunning 785 goals in the Spanish top flight. Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have fallen victim to forward madness more than once, with Los Rojiblancos conceding 32 goals for Messi and 25 for Ronaldo across competitions.
Having seen the duo up close, the Atletico manager has a good knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. In a 2018 interview, the coach was asked to put his knowledge to good use and choose a superstar from the two. Here’s what he had to say (via GiveMeSport):
“If I had to choose between Messi and Ronaldo, I would probably choose Messi.”
He also provided a detailed explanation of his selection.
“If you are lucky enough to sign one of them for a normal club, with normal players, Ronaldo would probably fit in better. But with Messi, surrounded by great players, Messi is better than Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will both have a point to prove next season
Although Ronaldo (37) and Messi (34) are on the wrong side of 30, they strive to be among the best, vying for every individual and collective honour. The 2021-22 season has not been kind to either Ronaldo or Messi, for one reason or another.
While the Portuguese skipper scored 24 goals (in all competitions) for Manchester United, he ended the season without a trophy for the first time in over a decade. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, on the other hand, won the Ligue 1 title with PSG but scored just 11 goals in all competitions.
Ronaldo will be looking to maintain his fine goalscoring streak next season but may struggle to enjoy so much playing time under Erik ten Hag’s new system. For him, it will be about embracing a new philosophy of football and hopefully adding to his trophy cabinet.
Messi, meanwhile, will be looking to regain his devastating goalscoring form and make a more tangible impact on the pitch in Paris, especially in the Champions League. PSG need their superstars firing on all cylinders to win their first UCL, and the No.30 must be the one to lead by example.
Read also : ‘He’s a once-in-a-lifetime player’ – When Ryan Giggs weighed in on the Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi debate