Every time Lionel Messi has been in the headlines, it seems that he is busy bringing Cristiano Ronaldo’s comparisons forward, and vice versa.
There never seems to be a moment where both players can bask in their glory without having to listen to statistics to deepen the argument against them.
Manchester United’s Mike Phelan has been in the enviable position of managing the Portuguese and trying to stop the Argentine, which has happened on a couple of occasions over the years.
Instead of pitting one against the other, Phelan explained what it was that makes both players amazing.
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“The one thing about Messi and Ronaldo is that both had an extreme desire to be the best,” he said in Messi – the King of Camp Nou.
“They’ve been at the top of their careers for years now and have done it consistently at the top level. They both had that in abundance.
“I can only observe Messi because I have never worked with him, but they are challenging individuals, both towards themselves and the people around them.
“They have maintained that challenge for a long, long time. The differences between them from my point of view are certainly not attitude and application, they both have lots of it, but they have different styles.
“Ronaldo’s all-round play is probably more robust, more dynamic from a power and speed point of view, while Messi is down to technique, skill and awareness.
“An awareness of players around him and an understanding of space.”
“Ronaldo was the right product when it came to him and football. Could he develop team ethics along the way? He ended up being a far more talented player than when he was at Man United and he was brilliant for us, but he took a lot of things from his football journey that were different from Messis.
“Leo was in a club for god knows how long since he was a child, an association that has really been incredible, but Ronaldo’s journey was different.
“He experienced different things in different clubs and as such had a different perspective and understanding of the game.”
There has always been a question mark over Messi because he has not played in England, although he almost always scores against English teams in the Champions League.
“As for the question of whether Messi could do it on a wet Wednesday in Stoke (laughs), he would have adapted,” Phelan added.
“With his intelligence and his footballing ability, he wanted to adapt to everything. He is a football player who wants to play football and football is played all over the world in the same way.
“Same rules, same rules. He would have found a way, just like Ronaldo found a way from Portugal to England, England to Spain, Spain to Italy.
“They were driven enough to find a way, and Messi was one of the best ever, in any division in any part of the world.
“Such a talent is for everyone to see, and he used it where he wanted to play football.”
All quotes obtained first hand by the author. Messi – The King of Camp Nou is available from 16 December.