Real Madrid legend Luka Modric picked Lionel Messi as the best footballer of all time over former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.
The two legendary players have been involved in an engrossing rivalry for more than a decade now. They have won 12 Ballons d’Or between them, with the Argentine winning seven.
Modric, incidentally, was the first player to break the streak of a decade of consecutive wins by the duo when he won the Ballon d’Or in 2018.
Last year, the Croatia international faced Messi-led Argentina in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. La Albiceleste won 3-0, with the Paris Saint-Germain man scoring once while Julian Alvarez scored a brace.
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After the game, Modric hailed the Argentine skipper as the best player, snubbing his former Real Madrid teammate Ronaldo. He said (via The Sun):
“I hope he will win this World Cup, he is the best player in history and he deserves it. He is playing a great World Cup, he shows quality and greatness in every game.”
Messi did go on to win the FIFA World Cup trophy as Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties in the final. Modric, meanwhile, led Croatia to a third-place finish after beating Morocco in their third-placed match.
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Ronaldo’s Portugal was eliminated in the quarter-finals after losing to Morocco.
The Al-Nassr forward started on the bench in that game, which many considered to be a poor decision by then-manager Fernando Santos.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s stats this season
Ronaldo started the season with Manchester United but had a major falling out with the club and manager Erik ten Hag.
His interview with Pier Morgan just before the World Cup amplified the adversity of the situation. It led to him terminating his contract at the club by mutual consent the same month.
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Prior to his release, Ronaldo scored three goals and provided two assists in 16 games across competitions for Manchester United.
The Portuguese ace then joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr, for whom he has scored nine goals and contributed two assists in 10 games across competitions.He will next be in action when Al-Nassr face Al-Adalah away in the Saudi Pro League on April 4.
Messi, meanwhile, has had a prolific season with Paris Saint-Germain. He has scored 18 goals and provided 17 assists in 32 games across competitions for the Parisian side.
The Argentine has made the most goal contributions for club and country this season from a player from Europe’s top five leagues.
He has made 56 goal contributions, two more than Kylian Mbappe and eight more than Erling Haaland.
Messi will next be in action in PSG’s home clash against Olympique Lyon in Ligue 1 on April 2.
Despite his overall brilliance, Messi was unable to stop PSG from being eliminated from the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich.