WHO’S the best player in the world right now?
That’s been debated around the globe since Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo started going head-to-head in La Liga.
And it has been brought back into sharp focus once more now that Barcelona’s mercurial Argentinian has just signed a new contract, worth a reported £500,000 per week, that ties him to the Nou Camp until 2021.
You can be sure his terms will have been noted by Ronaldo, who now earns a reputed £365,000 for seven days’ work – £7-million a year less than his great rival.
And even at that, both are behind Carlos Tevez in the earning stakes.
He is said to pick up £41-million-a-year with Shanghai Shenhua.
I have to emphasise I’m speculating on the supposed annual wages of these players. The reports could well be wide of the mark.
How can we be absolutely sure what a particular footballer earns every week? And to be honest, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business what any person earns in any walk of life.
Still, Ronaldo and Messi have enjoyed some interesting battles over the past eight or nine years and I hope that rivalry continues.
It was said Manchester City were interested in Messi, and there may have been something in that with Pep Guardiola having been his coach at Barca.
There was a suggestion Messi had a buy-out clause of £250 million in his contract, but that has now all been put to bed with this latest news.
So far, with Barcelona, he has won four Champions Leagues, and eight La Liga titles. With more than 500 goals to his name with the Spanish side, he has helped them win more than 30 major trophies.
He has been named the World Player of the Year five times and has scored 42 hat-tricks in his career, including seven in the Champions League.
Ronaldo has scored 48 hat-tricks for his three clubs – Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Real – and also has seven in the Champions League.
He is the current World Player of the Year – a prestigious award he has won four times – and also helped Portugal win the Euros last summer.
He also has to find room in his trophy cabinet for three Champions Leagues and two La Liga titles.
When you look at the achievements of both players, they seem a bit far-fetched, to be honest.
I mean, if you had to read the stats and see them scoring hat-tricks every other week – and some sensational individual goals – you would think it was even a script too far for Roy of the Rovers.
Not even the creator of Melchester Rovers hero, Roy Race, could have penned this one!
Who’s the best player of the two? Some are passionate about Messi, others will say Ronaldo brings more to the table.
I, genuinely, can’t separate them. I honestly can’t.
I think when you have two outstanding talents playing at the top level at the same time, then you enjoy every moment and be thankful for being treated to such wonderful talents.
It’s not about who is the best.
Seriously, how can you choose between them? One week one of them will grab the headlines by scoring a dazzling goal, the next the other one will be dominating.
I really don’t know if one has the edge over the other. It’s a dead heat. That’s not a fact, just my opinion.
What I do know is that any manager in the land would love to have either, or both, of them. It would give you a much better chance of winning games of football.
They both work hard and are dedicated. I don’t know if the rumours about their salaries are true, but I wouldn’t grudge them a single Euro.
Big contracts are part and parcel of the game nowadays.
It’s all relevant to the era you are playing in. Thirty years ago Diego Maradona was the top talent and I’m sure got the financial recognition he deserved.
Forty years ago it was Johan Cruyff. Before him, it was Pele.
All three had another thing in common – they all wore Puma boots. I also wore Puma boots – but that’s where the similarities between myself and them ends!
I’ve no doubt that trio would excel in today’s game.
Messi and Ronaldo do. They are both in their 30s now, so we’ll see how long they continue to dominate at the very highest level.
They have the ability and dedication to keep going for many, many years, and the challenge for the next generation of players is to try to reach that level.
It will not be easy, that’s for sure. But wouldn’t it be wonderful for all supporters of our great game to think that a decade from now, we have another couple of players at the current level of Messi and Ronaldo?
We can only hope.