The debate as to who is the greatest footballer of this generation, perhaps of all time, continues to rage on, and former Liverpool stalwart turned Sky Sports pundit, Jamie Carragher, has pointed to Lionel Messi’s performance vs Tottenham in 2018 as an example of why he’s better than Cristiano Ronaldo in certain aspects.
On that November night at Wembley, during the Champions League group stage game, the match wasn’t just memorable for Ivan Rakitic’s fine airborne volley, but for the masterful way in which Messi conducted the Blaugrana orchestra.
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Not only did the Argentine score twice that evening, but he seemed to almost single-handedly dismantle Tottenham from start to finish in a way that Carragher feels is unique.
“He (Messi) does things that other people can’t do,” Carragher told CaughtOffside in an exclusive interview.
“He had a performance at Tottenham I think, last season, where he almost played centre-midfield and he ran the game. Ronaldo couldn’t do that, really. I think Messi can dictate a game, the pace of a game, everything. He can score goals… Sometimes the games are not just about the stats and the goals and the assists.
“Sometimes it’s about sitting back and watching a game and it makes you smile and makes you think ‘wow,’ and I just think that Messi has more of those moments.”
Far from looking to do Ronaldo a disservice, Carragher was equally as effusive in his praise for the Juventus striker, but the fascination with goal scoring numbers isn’t something that he can abide.
Numbers that are beyond the reach of all but the two players who have dominated the game for years though, it must be said.
“What annoys me is that it seems like we judge the best player in the world by how many goals they’ve got. And it’s almost like ‘Ronaldo got two, Messi got three,’ whereas years ago when I was a kid growing up, the goal scorer was never the best player in the world,” Carragher continued.
“If I think of Liverpool, and you speak to Liverpool fans, they’d say that Kenny Dalglish was the best player, not Ian Rush. And Ian Rush scored double the amount of goals.”
Clearly, the most prolific goal scorers tend to be the match winners more often than not, but Carragher is looking for something that little bit different when passing his judgement on who is the finer footballer.
“What makes me always put Messi above Ronaldo is that… you could make an argument to say that Ronaldo is possibly the greatest goal scorer of all time, in some ways, you know how he’s changed his role, he’s gone to centre-forward, come in from the left wing, the different types of goals he scored… headers, acrobatics, free-kicks, penalties…
“He scores every type of goal and he probably will break all the numbers for goals but, for me, the best player in the world is always like a No.10, who did things that took your breath away.
“We’ve seen great goals scored before. We see goals every single game, but with Messi, he does things that you think no one else can do … and that’s why I’d always put Messi there, above Ronaldo in this debate.”