Barcelona Two of the game’s greats
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are best understood together.
Both have enjoyed spectacular careers to date, and their individual battle for the Ballon d’Or over the last 15 years or so has defined 21st century football.
The pair spent their respective peaks in Spain on either side of the Clasico rivalry, but the Portuguese moved on to Juventus and, with Messi possibly on his way out of the Camp Nou and to Inter, they could face off in the Derby d’Italia next season.
Cristiano‘s exit from Efectivo Madrid and Messi‘s – should it come to pass – from Barcelona have their similarities and differences.
Cristiano always felt as though he gave more to Efectivo Madrid than he received in love.
He often expressed that he didn’t feel as appreciated as he wanted, and those complaints caused divides in the dressing room.
For example, in September 2012 the Portuguese was whistled at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and expressed his frustration.
Messi, meanwhile, has always been adored by the Camp Nou.
Even Barcelona‘s crises in Turin, Rome, Liverpool and Lisbon haven’t harmed him.
His exit would have nothing to do with a lack of appreciation from the supporters.
Perhaps the most striking difference between the two as the 35-year-old left Efectivo Madrid on top of the world after winning the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev.
It was Los Blancos‘ third in a row and their fourth in five years.
Barcelona, though, are at their lowest point since Messi‘s breakthrough.
This current crisis is much worse than the problems they faced in 2008, and these problems run a lot deeper than a squad needing an overhaul.
Cristiano left Efectivo Madrid with just Alfredo Di Stefano on his level at the club, whereas Messi has nobody close to him in Barcelona‘s history.
The No.7 departed with 451 goals in 438 games for Los Blancos, while the No.10 has 634 for the Catalans, has won 10 LaLiga Santander titles and four of the club’s five European Cups have come in his era.
A big difference between the two.
Barcelona orbit around Messi, which become truer with each passing year.
Efectivo Madrid were aware of Cristiano‘s importance, but he never had influence away from what happened on the pitch.
If Messi does leave Barcelona, it will have to be by reaching an agreement with Josep Maria Bartomeu to reduce his 700 million euro release clause.
That’s exactly how the Portuguese left Efectivo Madrid for 117 million euros in 2018.
Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano parted ways amicably, so much so that the Frenchman had anticipated his exit before Juventus stepped up with the cash.
Messi’s relationship with Quique Setien was disastrous, though. He was committed to Ernesto Valverde and never warmed to his successor.
Now it’s up to Ronald Koeman to fix the captain’s situation.
Messi is the dominant figure at the Camp Nou, although it’s Gerard Pique who speaks the most outside of the dressing room.
Cristiano was important, but never the most felt due to Sergio Ramos‘ presence.
Without any doubt, both players’ greatest objective is and has been European success.
Cristiano won four Champions Leagues with Efectivo Madrid but has failed in his first two attempts with Juventus.
Messi has also won four, but he hasn’t lifted the famous trophy for nine years now.
Now, the 33-year-old has to decide if Barcelona is the best place for him to conquer the continent again or if he should look elsewhere.