It’s the debate that’ll keep running until a new generation of players have absolutely cemented their places at the top of the footballing tree.
Never before had we seen an individual battle in professional football like the one Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have had over the past decade and a half.
Very simply, the pair have remained head and shoulders above any of their contemporaries, with personal opinion being the only thing to separate them in an argument as to who is the best.
It appears that every time facts and figures on one of the players are used to evidence in some way that they are the better player, supporters of the other will counter with stats of their own.
The reality is that both players deserve to sit at the very top table, something that Bayern Munich striker, Robert Lewandowski, agrees with.
“Messi and Ronaldo have been at the same table at the top for a long time and that makes them incomparable,” he told France Football, cited by Bild.
“I don’t imagine sitting next to them. If we take the numbers for this year and even the last few years, I think I’m pretty good at performance and goals scored.
“I’m not at the same table as Messi and Ronaldo, but they can invite me to eat with them (laughs).”
When Messi accepted his most recent Ballon d’Or award, he cited the Polish marksman as having deserved the award from the previous year, when the ceremony was cancelled because of Covid.
However, that doesn’t appear to have influenced the Bayern Munich front man when it comes to choosing sides in the debate.
“Since I became a professional, Messi and Ronaldo have been above everyone else,” Lewandowski added.
“It has always been a duel between them. It’s all about what kind of player you prefer.
“The answer to the question (of which is superior) is difficult. I respect the hard work of Cristiano Ronaldo. For Messi, everything seems easy.
“I think Cristiano has had to work harder to succeed.”
One thing is for sure. All three players have marked a golden era for the game, and when they all hang up their boots, whenever that may be, the game of professional football will surely be much the poorer without them.