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Best of all-time? 10 forwards to rival Messi as greatest ever

The footballing world has been treated to another sporting spectacle this season, as Lionel Messi inspired Barcelona towards the Champions League final in Berlin and helped secure the La Liga title triumph ahead of rivals Real Madrid.

After the Argentine great’s latest magical exploits this campaign, the age-old debate rages on over who is the greatest of all-time?

Here are 10 other world-class forwards who could possibly claim that crown and rival Barcelona’s global superstar, including the late Manchester United legend George Best, who would have been celebrating his 69th birthday today.

George Best
Regarded as one of the most naturally gifted players ever, Best possessed a sensational balance on the ball, which allowed the ‘Belfast Boy’ to score some outrageous solo efforts.

Part of the ‘Busby Babes’ which famously lifted the 1968 European Cup, Best could certainly live up to his fitting surname.

The historic Red Devils figure was born on May 22, 1946, and has received worldwide birthday wishes.

Simply sit back and enjoy this fantastic tribute to Best.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Whenever Messi grabs the headlines, this Real Madrid maestro is usually the one to steal back the spotlight. Ronaldo, like his Argentine counterpart, is a footballing freak, capable of virtually anything on the pitch with his amazing all-round attacking abilities.

Those that question this prolific pair’s inability to take the greatest ever acclaim due to an elusive World Cup triumph, only need to look as far as those special Champions League nights, where both stars produce countless moments of excellence. In particularly, against opposition who have lifted that coveted world accolade. Just ask Jerome Boateng.

When both greats eventually hang up their boots, the footballing world is doubtful of ever witnessing their like again, with Messi and Ronaldo setting unrivalled standards.

Watch Ronaldo dispatch a clinical hat-trick recently against Sevilla.

Ronaldo
‘The Phenomenon’, and original Ronaldo, embodied everything Brazilian football stands for, with his pace, power, skill and a clinical eye for goal. Having netted 15 World Cup goals, along with over 300 club strikes for some of Europe’s great teams, Brazil’s second-highest ever scorer is true goalscoring great.

Watch Ronaldo link up with Rivaldo and strike past Germany in the 2002 World Cup final.

Pele
Until Messi arrived on the global stage, Pele was widely viewed as the best player ever to have laced up their boots. The prolific Brazilian struck over 600 times for Santos in his clinical career and guided his country to three emphatic World Cup victories.

Watch Pele’s famous strike against Sweden in 1958.

Diego Maradona
Like so many Argentine’s before him, Messi was dubbed ‘the new Maradona’. But, after seemingly eclipsing his former international mentor, those new prospects coming through the country’s ranks are now being outlined as ‘the new Messi’ instead.

Maradona led his country to a 1986 World Cup triumph and netted over 500 goals during his club career with the likes of Napoli and Barcelona, making the number 10 jersey famous throughout the globe.

Watch Maradona’s World Cup wonder goal against England in 1986.

Samuel Eto’o
A former teammate of Messi at Barcelona for five seasons, Eto’o is undoubtedly the greatest footballer to have emerged from Africa.

The Cameroonian has an overflowing trophy cabinet, having secured Champions League wins with Inter Milan and the Catalan giants, as well as a double of African Cup of Nations wins and an Olympic gold medal from 2000.

Watch Eto’o link up with Messi during his Barcelona days and score arguably his best ever strike.

Marco van Basten
This deadly Dutchman was one of the most exciting forwards to have graced the pitch, spending six prolific seasons at Ajax before becoming a true AC Milan great.

Despite failing to win the World Cup, Van Basten inspired the Netherlands to a 1988 European Champions victory, scoring one of the most extravagant goals ever seen in the final.

Watch ‘that goal’ from Van Basten in the Euro 1988 final.

Gerd Muller
Like Messi, Muller had an incredible sense of positional play, knowing exactly where the space would be and exploiting it continuously. A World Cup winner in 1974, the German netted an unbelievable 68 goals in 62 international outings, and over 600 club strikes, most of which came at Bayern.

Watch all 14 of Muller’s World Cup goals here in just 90 seconds.

Hugo Sanchez
This magnificent Mexico marksman was a spectacular forward for club and country, slotting home 207 times for Los Blancos and finishing off 29 clinical efforts for his country.

Watch Sanchez score from an audacious bicycle kick for Madrid.

Eusebio
Having struck a career total of 790 goals for club and country, this Portuguese poacher was simply sublime. Famous for his brilliant 15 years at Benfica, Eusebio won the European cup during his time with the Eagles and was rightfully awarded with the Ballon d’Or in 1965.

Watch old footage of Eusebio superbly wining a penalty before slotting it home himself.