Shearer Says: “Wherever I go I keep getting asked: who is the better player, Messi or Ronaldo?”
Coral Ambassador Alan Shearer has his say on the question that’s on every football fans’ lips
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 47th career hat-trick earlier this week against Atletico Madrid, which is just absolutely staggering. I can’t remember how many hat-tricks I scored but I know it wasn’t 47! Wherever I go I keep getting asked the question: who is the better player, Messi or Ronaldo? For me we just have to enjoy them both for what they are, and that is two unbelievable players.
The two of them have different personalities and styles on and off the pitch, but where they are similar is that they are both up there with the all time greats that have ever played the game. When I say that, I am talking about the likes of Pele, Maradona and Zidane.
What really impresses me more than anything else is the number of games they play. I keep hearing managers saying players can only play a certain amount of games and they need a rest. Ronaldo and Messi play 50 plus games a season and never complain. For the vast majority of their careers they have played in every game across a number of competitions, their desire to play is incredible.
When you look at Ronaldo there just aren’t any weaknesses. He scores with headers, his left foot, his right foot and he can beat a player. He can do everything, as can Messi. The one difference between the two of them is Ronaldo has won a major international tournament. I really don’t buy into that making Messi any less of a great player though.
The one thing that doesn’t get mentioned enough with great players is their desire and hunger to stay at the top. It is difficult to get the top, but it is even more difficult staying there. Everyone wants to knock you off. When you are as good as Messi and Ronaldo, that is everyone else. Not many are able to do it. These guys have been doing it season after season.
When I was first making my way into the game, Kenny Dalglish was in his prime. I saw him play at Liverpool and he was an absolute genius. I was lucky enough to work with him at Blackburn. I am really pleased Liverpool have named a stand after him this week. What he has done for that football club is incredible. I tweeted: ‘great person, great player, great man and great friend’ because he is all of those things. He genuinely is one of the nicest, most honest and kindest people you will ever come across in football. Him and his family will do anything for you, and he never ever wants a pat on the back for what he does either. At Blackburn we all had the utmost respect for him as a manager because of what he achieved in the game. He won the league at Liverpool as a player/manager and then lifted the title with Blackburn. In the modern era, Brian Clough is the only other man to have won titles with two different clubs, which says it all.
The best player I ever came up against was Zidane. I know he played in a different position to Ronaldo and Messi, but he could do anything with a football. As a Newcastle lad, I can’t forget about Kevin Keegan either. He was different to the others I’ve mentioned in that he had to work really hard to become a great player. Kevin was not a natural but he worked incredibly hard to get to the top so it goes to show there is more than one way of becoming a great player.
The big game in the Premier League this weekend is Arsenal against Manchester United. Jose has come out and said he may play a weakened team but I would be amazed if that is the case. They are only a point behind Manchester City who are fourth. Ultimately though, if he does decide to make changes, it is his football club and he gets paid to manage it so he can do what he wants. He has no allegiances to any other team. He has to do what he believes his best for his club.
United have to get into the Champions League this season, whether that is by finishing in the top four or winning the Europa League. If they have another year out, it will be a disaster for the club. A lot of their recruitment this summer is dependent on them offering the big players Champions League football.
I think the chance of a top four finish for Arsenal now has gone. They’ve done what they normally do which is perform well at times but not consistently. They’ll be looking to the FA Cup to save their season. I am amazed that Wenger’s future has not been sorted yet. Maybe he does know and they are waiting to announce it but there is a lot of uncertainty around the football club at the moment. They were humiliated by Tottenham last weekend, Spurs could easily have put four or five past them they were so much better than them.