Debate finally settled as research data shows Messi is far greater than Ronaldo

Messi surpass Ronaldo as the greatest player

Debate finally settled as research data shows Messi is far greater than Ronaldo

Stephen Oladehinde 15:27 - 09.06.2023

The wait is finally over as the long-running argument about who is the greatest player between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has been resolved.

Both players have dominated the world of football for more than 12 years and have won 76 major trophies altogether. 

Their rivalry was at its peak while they were in LaLiga playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively with both players winning a combined nine Champions League trophies.

The two icons scored a total of 1,643 goals in 2,193 appearances and counting and both players are considered the best to ever grace the world of football.

However, according to recent statistics, it has been proved that the new Inter Miami signing Lionel Messi is a greater player than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi and Ronaldo in contention for the ball
Messi and Ronaldo in contention for the ball

Graham’s analysis

The 38-year-old Portuguese skipper has been clearly beaten by Messi, according to Graham, who is a theoretical physics PhD candidate at Cambridge.

With both players almost at the end of their career, he has based his analysis on very extensive research and analysis of data which has given a view of who is greater among the two.

According to Graham, Messi was unquestionably superior when the two were ranked using complex methods to assess their overall impact on the success of their team.

Speaking at a Cheltenham Science Festival which was reported by the Mirror, Dr Ian said, “It’s Messi. The difference is that Messi is also a world-class attacking midfielder. “The chances he creates for his teammates are an order of magnitude greater than Ronaldo. Messi does two jobs brilliantly. Ronaldo does one job brilliantly. That’s the difference.”

He described how the two stars were rated after assessing their total contributions to their team's achievement.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two great players
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two great players

Trophy criteria 

A lot of arguments have been made among fans regarding who is the greatest player between Messi and Ronaldo.

Fans from various diversities have used different measures to gauge their performance, from goals to trophies to consistency and other valuable stats.

As it stands many believe that Lionel Messi has surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo due to the fact he won the World Cup with Argentina.

The World Cup has been a factor considered for most of the great players in the world of football. The likes of Pele, Delima Ronaldo, Maradona and others are examples of great players who have won the World Cup.

Messi's Trophy cabinet
Messi's Trophy cabinet

Messi has fallen into that category after winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup edging Cristiano Ronaldo as the greatest player.

According to ESPN, Lionel Messi has won a total of 43 trophies in his football career while Ronaldo has won 33 senior trophies and is still counting.

Messi’s Trophies Ronaldo’s Trophies 


La Liga: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2017–18, 2018–19

Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2020–21

Supercopa de España: 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018

UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15

UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015

FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015

Paris Saint-Germain

Ligue 1: 2021–22, 2022–23

Trophée des Champions: 2022

Argentina U20

FIFA World Youth Championship: 2005

Argentina U23

Summer Olympics: 2008


FIFA World Cup: 2022

Copa América: 2021

CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions: 2022

Sporting CP

Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira: 2002

Manchester United

Premier League: 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09

FA Cup: 2003–04

Football League Cup: 2005–06, 2008–09

FA Community Shield: 2007

UEFA Champions League: 2007–08

FIFA Club World Cup: 2008

Real Madrid

La Liga: 2011–12, 2016–17

Copa del Rey: 2010–11, 2013–14

Supercopa de España: 2012, 2017

UEFA Champions League: 2013–14, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18

UEFA Super Cup: 2014, 2017

FIFA Club World Cup: 2014, 2016, 2017


Serie A: 2018–19, 2019–20

Coppa Italia: 2020–21

Supercoppa Italiana: 2018, 2020

Portugal U20

Toulon Tournament: 2003


UEFA European Championship: 2016

UEFA Nations League: 2018–19

Goals contribution and Individual awards

Another aspect being looked at for both players in their careers is their goal contributions and individual awards.

Both players have done a great job in the world of football and have scored numerous goals in their careers.

According to ESPN, Lionel Messi has scored a total of 803 goals in 1027 appearances and has received a total of 60 individual awards while Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 837 goals in 1166 appearances and has received a total of 39.

Based on these stats we can see that Ronaldo has played 139 games more than Messi with a goal difference of 34 goals. This shows that if Messi had played the exact number of games as Ronaldo, we would probably have equalled his goal tally or surpassed it.

Lionel Messi has also received more individual awards in his career than Ronaldo which also puts him ahead of the Portuguese as the greatest footballer.

Messi's stats could still go higher than his present stats as he moves to Inter Miami in the MLS for a new chapter.

Messi’s Individual Award Ronaldo’s Individual Awards 

Ballon d'Or/FIFA Ballon d'Or: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021

FIFA World Player of the Year: 2009

The Best FIFA Men's Player: 2019, 2022

European Golden Shoe: 2009–10, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19

FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 2014, 2022

FIFA World Cup Silver Boot: 2022

FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball: 2009, 2011

FIFA U-20 World Cup Golden Ball: 2005

FIFA U-20 World Cup Golden Boot: 2005

UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award: 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15

Copa América Best Player: 2015, 2021

Copa América Top Goalscorer: 2021

La Liga Best Player: 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15

Pichichi Trophy: 2009−10, 2011–12, 2012−13, 2016–17, 2017−18, 2018–19, 2019–20, 2020–21

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: 2020

Argentine Footballer of the Year: 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

FIFA Ballon d'Or/Ballon d'Or: 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017

FIFA World Player of the Year: 2008

The Best FIFA Men's Player: 2016, 2017

The Best FIFA Special Award for Outstanding Career Achievement: 2021

UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award: 2007–08, 2013–14, 2015–16, 2016–17

European Golden Shoe: 2007–08, 2010–11, 2013–14, 2014–15

Golden Foot: 2020

FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball: 2016

FIFA Puskás Award: 2009

UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 2004; 2012; 2016

UEFA European Championship Golden Boot: 2020

Premier League Player of the Season: 2006–07, 2007–08

La Liga Best Player: 2013–14

Serie A Footballer of the Year: 2019, 2020

Premier League Golden Boot: 2007–08

Pichichi Trophy: 2010–11, 2013–14, 2014–15

Capocannoniere: 2020–21

FPF Portuguese Player of the Year: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022