It should be no surprise to anyone that Ronaldo and Messi will one day retire from football, they are human after all, sometimes. Even if the two continue to do things that have never been seen before, one has to wonder how close the end is for the two phenoms. Ronaldo is now 32 and Messi will turn 30 next month, for your average football this would be the turning point in their decline, however these two men are far from average. But sadly retirement still beckons for the two greatest players of all time.
The two stars are in theory polar opposites from each other. One is South American the other is European. One is 6 ft 1 in and the other is 5 ft 7 in. One is right footed and the other is left footed, and so on. But there isn’t a day that goes past where the two men aren’t compared to one another. And that is because both these guys are putting up numbers that nobody else can touch. This season Messi has scored 50 goals in 51 appearances and Ronaldo has scored 39 goals in 44 appearances. Last season Messi scored 41 goals in 49 appearances whilst Ronaldo scored 51 goals in 48 appearances. The story is the same every year.
Both men are the leading scorers and captains for their respective nations, Argentina and Portugal. Both players are also the top scorers for their respective clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the worlds best clubs which have hosted some of the best players the world has ever seen like Di Stefano, Ronaldinho and Zidane. The two players have won the Ballon D’or between them every year since 2008, with Messi winning 5 and Ronaldo winning 4. I could compare and show you the amount of club honours, national honours and individual trophies, but there is so many it would probably take me days to write and this article is made to appreciate the two players not to compare them (check http://messivsronaldo.net/records/ if you want to see their achievements).
When Ronaldo and Messi retire Real Madrid and Barcelona will be in a predicament. Although they will lose their star men, the two squads will still be packed with millions of pounds worth of world class talent, but the truth is Ronaldo and Messi are simply irreplaceable and the two teams will be left with a massive void to fill. Both teams will still have great players in attack like Neymar and Bale, but they will be lacking that extra bit of quality Ronaldo and Messi have and the special moments only they can provide. The two players are worth 20 points a season to each of their teams. They are capable of dribbling the ball around 6 players and scoring a 20 yard screamer an instance, something the rest may struggle with. Without Ronaldo and Messi La Liga will become more competitive like it was in the early 2000’s, teams like Athletico, Valencia and Sevilla will stand more of a chance.
How will football be different? Firstly, the Ballon D’or will no longer be a game of hot potato between Ronaldo and Messi, it will become a competitive trophy again that any of the world class players can win. Scoring 50 goals in a season and 90 in a calendar year will be unheard of. Scoring 40 goals will be outstanding not a disappointing season. Their scintillating goal scoring abilities have made players like Lewandowski, Aguero and Benzema look moderate, with Ronaldo and Messi out the picture normalcy will be restored. Hat-ricks will be the highlight of player’s seasons and not a match. And records will rarely be broken, not broken every week.
However, the beautiful game always moves on, we moved on from Pele, Best, Maradona, Scholes and Brazilian Ronaldo. The man I expect to dominate world football and fill the big shoes left by these two legends next is unsurprisingly Neymar. I expect him to ascend the throne left empty by Messi or Ronaldo. The 25 year old Brazilian has already shown he’s world class. In my opinion when he wears the yellow of Brazil he is arguably the best player in the world, so when Messi retires and he becomes the main man in Barcelona I expect him to show his prowess even more and become the world number one.
Another name worth mentioning for the number one spot is Paulo Dybala. The Argentine is an intelligent left footed forward, who is very skillful, agile and is a born goal machine. Sound familiar? The Juventus forward is only 23 years old and could be Messi’s replacement in the national set up and could inherit the throne as the best player in the world from him.
Antoine Griezmann is another name that comes to mind when looking at a possible player to become the next top dog. The frenchman is one of the best strikers in the world. He has an eye for goal and has proven himself on the biggest stages like the Champions League and Euro 2016.
Although these players may be the next to seize the throne and battle it out on the future, you have to feel like no rivalry could possibly top Ronaldo vs Messi and any rivalry between these three players would be purely manufactured for drama. Other notable names are Mbappe, Bale, Pogba, Hazard and Kane, these players are capable of filling the void in some way and battling it out for the Ballon D’or in the future.
It’s hard to imagine football without Ronaldo and Messi but the game is ruthless and will always move on from you no matter who you are. New talents will emerge like they always do and they will distract us from the pain of the two greats retiring. However, these two will never be forgotten. These two have broken superficial boundaries and treated real life football as if it were a video game. They have achieved things we never thought were possible. Their careers have been nothing short of legendary and we will miss their brilliance and we will mourn their retirement. So my advice is that you stop comparing these two juggernauts and start appreciating them, it’s time to switch on your tv and watch enough Ronaldo and Messi to fill your boots for a lifetime, because one things for sure, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.