From Cristiano-Messi to Mbappé-Haaland
Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi defined the global game over the past decade or so with both players almost exclusively winning the Ballon d'Or award year after year. Without their presence, we'd no doubt have seen the likes of Ibrahimovic, Ribéry, Xavi, Iniesta or Neymar scoop the award. The Brazilian was knocking at the door but has been unable to maintain a steady run of solid form and the first year that Messi and Cristiano missed out, Luka Modric was the winner. There was no award this year due to covid but I suspect had there been an award that it would have been won by Robert Lewandowski after his wonderful campaign with Bayern Munich.
We've been privileged to witness the Cristiano-Messi head-to-head at close quarters and it's rare in the history of the game that two colossals appear at once with the likes of Di Stéfano, Pelé, Cruyff and Maradona holding the limelight solo. The Cristiano-Messi situation was accentuated even more as it added another layer of intrigue to the historic Real Madrid-Barça rivalry and it reminded me of the Kubala and Di Stéfano period. It would now appear that both players are to be succeeded by Mbappé and Haaland (22 and 20 years-of age respectively) with both strikers hugely exciting prospects. Their challenge ahead involves around maintaining this excellent level of form over a sustained period of time, a feat that Cristiano and Messi managed to do and something that Neymar failed to do.
Debate now continues as to 'who is the best', 'who would you want on your team' . Personally I feel Mbappé is a more complete player but it would be terrifying to play against Haaland, who is far more than just a sturdy, big target man but an accomplished ball player despite his height. His agent is Mino Raiola who holds a tense relationship with Florentino Perez but incidentally is good friends with Joan Laporta. Mbappé is out of contract with PSG at the end of June in 2022 and everyone know is highly desired by Real Madrid. Who knows if both players can offer another decade of intrigue but at present the question revolves the sourcing of the money to secure their acquisitions.
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