The question always crops up when any football topic is discussed. There can be no right or wrong answer. The only way you could possibly know is if they played with the same team over a season.
For example if Messi played for Man Utd over a season with the same team mates and Ronaldo did the same. In other words it’s impossible!
The statistics for both players can easily be obtained from the internet and they are both truly extraordinary in terms of goals scored. We are talking about two players who when centre forwards are mentioned, do not even come into people’s minds because simply they are not centre forwards!
Also these are two players who are playing in the best teams in the world against the best players in the world, not some mediocre football where someone score loads of goals and is hailed as the next great thing in the sport.
Some people base their decision on the person; not the player so in those terms people will go for Messi I think because they probably see him as more humble even though none of us have even met either person but are guided by the media.
Does one player however have an advantage over the other in terms of his development and environment?
Without a shadow of doubt, Messi has had a distinct advantage because he has been with Barcelona virtually all his playing career. He has become part of the Barcelona family, the Spanish culture, the way of living but most importantly the way of playing.
He has been guided and followed a similar style of play throughout his life, primarily grown with the same set of players around him and he has excelled in this environment.
Ronaldo on the other hand has had to embrace a few different cultures, different languages, different playing styles, different playing conditions, different managers with their own methods, different set of team mates and yet with all this against him he has still excelled.
One thing apart from the great skills that they both possess is an immense mental strength. Can you imagine what the opposition managers tell their players to do to both Messi and Ronaldo?
Because of all the hits both of them knew they would have to take, they have built up phenomenal physical strength to protect their bodies but their mental strength is what really stands out.
So who is the best?
They are both extraordinary players who I love to watch but if I had to have one above the other in my team it would be Messi.
I make my decision on all the games I watch with both these great players playing in and I think Messi makes more correct decisions in terms of the team than Ronaldo does. I think Ronaldo can sometimes frustrate his team mates with that one extra step over when a simple pass was the best option or he may insist on a free kick when another player may be better suited.
I think Messi can play the game more simpler when needed whereas Ronaldo will want to try an instigate something and end up losing the ball.
However we have to remember this comes from one player having been coached and playing in one style all his life which maybe helps in those decisions.
People will say that I choose Messi because I love the Barca way but then everyone who knows me, knows I’m a Man Utd supporter and love Ronaldo too.
People will no doubt argue and have their own opinions on why Ronaldo is better and no one can say they are wrong either.
Bottom line is assume you are a manager, pick your ten players and then in that team you have chosen, select Ronaldo or Messi to complete the line up and you have your own answer on who you think is the best because that is how you should judge it.