LIONEL MESSI versus Cristiano Ronaldo is the endless debate that many fans love to have – and you simply cannot split them.
SunSport readers were handed the ominous task of picking between the goalscoring legends recently and the result was left on a tightrope.
After a whopping 75,000 of you cast your vote, the Barcelona superstar was ahead with a far-from convincing lead to amplify just how well matched these two are.
At the time of writing, Messi had 52.3 per cent of the votes and you can have your chance to sway it one way or another in our poll below.
With the game currently shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, determining football's best player has become something of an obsession for many.
On either side of this duel are two players with vast amounts of appearances, goals, silverware and, of course, legions of fans lauding their every move.
When considering the game's greats who have worked alongside Ronaldo and Messi, it is little surprise to discover their verdict.
Zinedine Zidane coached Ronaldo as Real Madrid won three consecutive Champions League crowns, making it five for the winger across his entire career, and stands by his former player.
The Frenchman said: "Cristiano is the best. Messi is his rival and it's the rivalry everyone wants to see.
"But Ronaldo is phenomenal. There are no words to describe him. He is much better than me even though I had a great career. He's the greatest of all time.”
Likewise, ex-Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola is certain that Messi takes the crown having claimed 14 trophies at the Camp Nou with the Argentine.
He remarked: "Messi is the best, he is definitely the best.
"With all the respect to all the players, first to Cristiano Ronaldo, I think Messi is on another level."
However there is one score for Messi in this regard as Jose Mourinho – who believes Ronaldo Nazario to be the most-talented player he has ever seen – refused to back his former Madrid maestro.
The Portuguese coach said: “When you go to Messi and Ronaldo, I think it’s just unfair to compare the players. The only thing I can say is that when I had Ronaldo on my side, I was a very happy man.
“And when I had to play against Messi – and also against Ronaldo because I played against Ronaldo a few times – I had to think a lot to try and help my team have chances to succeed."
Furthermore, Ronaldo's old teammate Wayne Rooney handed his vote to Messi having suffered at the 32-year-old's torturous talents in a pair of Champions League finals.
The former United star wrote in The Times recently: "Despite my friendship with Cristiano, I’d go for Messi. It’s for the same reason I loved watching Xavi and Scholes: it’s the different things in Messi’s game.
"Ronaldo is ruthless in the box, a killer. But Messi will torture you before he kills you. With Messi you just get the impression he is having more fun."
Somewhat controversially, Pele has previously opted for both men but most recently named the Juventus forward as the world's best.
The Brazilian legend stated: "Today the best player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I think he’s the best, because he’s more consistent. You can’t forget about Messi, of course, but he’s not a striker.”
'IN HIS OWN CLASS'
Fellow Samba hero Romario disagreed when speaking of the debate last year, the footballer-turned-politician giving a very diplomatic answer.
He said: "I love Messi, he's great, but it must also be said Cristiano Ronaldo is among the five best players in history.
"If I had to choose one to play with, I would stay with Messi. He's more technically gifted, I'd rather see Leo than Cristiano."
One man who agrees is David Beckham as he cast aside his United and Real loyalties to insist that Messi is on another planet – although Ronaldo is far and away his closest rival.
The 44-year-old noted: "[Messi] is alone in his class as a player, it is impossible that there is another like him.
"He, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who is not at his level, are both above the rest."
Diego Simeone has previously agreed with Beckham having faced both men in LaLiga with his Atletico Madrid side.
Simeone said: "If I had to choose between Messi and Ronaldo then most likely I would choose Messi."
Perhaps best summing it up is Arsene Wenger, who stated that it comes down to personal preference with it not too surprising that he would therefore opt for the "artistic" Messi.
The ex-Arsenal boss remarked: "Artistically, Messi is as well a guy who can give the final ball, so he’s maybe more a creative player than Ronaldo.
“Ronaldo is more a finisher, better in the air, more athletic, and Messi is the more artistic. So basically you are always tempted a little bit more by a player like Messi.”
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