Lionel Messi has always insisted that individual awards mean very little to him but it must irk the Barcelona superstar that his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo is about to equal his Ballon d’Or tally.
Messi had four Ballons d’Or to Ronaldo’s one back in 2012 but the Portuguese forward, who has made no secret of his intense desire to win individual accolades throughout his career, has come roaring back over recent years.
Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or in 2013, 2014 and 2016, while Messi picked up his fifth in 2015.
But Ronaldo will almost certainly make it 5-5 at the end of the year after winning both La Liga and the Champions League with Los Blancos this year.
The bookmakers currently have the 32-year-old priced at 1/33 to win the 2017 Ballon d’Or, with Messi priced at 16/1. Put it this way: it would be a major shock if Ronaldo doesn’t land his hands on the award in December.
Ronaldo wants to be remembered as the greatest player of all time and that dream could – could – become a reality if he wins the Ballon d’Or more times than Messi before he retires.
However, for pure footballing talent, there’s an argument to suggest there’s no been a more naturally gifted player than Messi, who makes the game look so easy.
Xavi reveals the one area Ronaldo is better than Messi
Xavi, who always talks so intelligently about football, certainly believes his former teammate is the greatest ever.
However, in an interview with Marca – per Sport 360 – Xavi has admitted there is one aspect of Ronaldo’s game that is stronger than Messi’s.
“Ronaldo is [the best] as a shooter,” Xavi commented, referring to Cristiano’s finishing ability, “he’s incredible at that and is a historic player.”
Xavi: With Messi you cannot compare
However, the Barça legend believes Messi is still incomparable to any other footballer.
“But with Messi you cannot compare,” he added. “Messi is a master in the collective and individual senses. But for Ronaldo, that kind of linking up takes a lot.
“Messi does everything well. If a coach were to say ‘we’re going to play with us all running back’ then Messi would also be the best at that. If you ask Ronaldo to play with one or two touches then I don’t know if he would be the best.”
Is Xavi right?
Is this a fair assessment?