“Ronaldo is the best! NO! Messi is the best!”
ALRIGHT! They are interchangeably the two best players in the world. Stop reminding us that we do not have the wealth or diversity of players as in the 90s or 2000s. Zidane, Ronaldinho, Cantona, Henry, Del-Piero, Ronaldo, Figo, Pirlo, Totti …. The list goes on. Many will be upset that I left out their favorite player from that era, which only serves to make my point.
This brings us to the core of this semi-rant; who is the current third best player in the world? Or in other words, who would be the best player in the world if we took these two dominating figures out of the equation?
Take the below poll. Feel free to back up your player of choice in the comments section. If you choose “other”, leave your candidate.
There is no consensus answer. Messi and Ronaldo are the only “complete” players; they are the jacks of all trades and masters of most. The rest are masters at some trades but not the jacks of most. If that made any sense. The top two players have cemented their position due to a constant strive for perfection. They have all the aspects required for success. Drive, determination, performing under pressure, full range of skills, and overall completeness.
Most other players are the best at certain aspects of the game but that makes it hard to label them as the best overall football player. Every argument past Messi and Ronaldo is in the form of, “yeah, he may be great at THIS, but he cant do THAT.” Lets look at a couple of established candidates and see how this argument forms.
Iniesta and Xavi: “yeah, he may be great at close control and vision, but he cant score enough goals.”
Ibrahimovich, Falcao and RVP: “yeah, he may be great at scoring spectacular goals of great technique, but he cant affect the game from the midfield and is isolated if his team aren’t performing”
Ribery: “yeah, he may be great at dribbling at pace and scoring goals, but he cant carry a team on his own.”
Talking to people about this unanswerable question of who is the current third best player in the world, has brought out a very interesting point of view which I am inclined to agree with. THIS ARTICLE COULD HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY AVOIDED …. if Kaka had continued his AC-Milan form at Madrid. That would have definitely and easily seen him be the third best player in the world without contest. At AC-Milan, Kaka was reaching new heights. He was a complete player who dominated teams and helped Milan to two champions league finals in three years. Moving to Madrid, for a then world record of 56 million pounds, seemingly paved the way for him to become a realistic contender to fight Messi and Cristiano for the throne on top of the footballing pecking order. Alas, it was not meant to be as he was ravaged with injuries. Changes in management at Madrid and old age also resulted in Kaka never fulfilling his true world class potential. Below is a short Kaka clip of the glory days focusing on his 2006/2007 champions league campaign.
Bale and Neymar are being talked about as the future best players in the world. Bale, I can see the hype because he has proved himself last season, carrying a relatively weak Tottenham side on his own, in a very competitive English premier league. He has all the physical attributes which are crucial in the modern game as well as an ever improving technique on the ball. There is real interest from Real Madrid to make him the most expensive transfer ever. Whether he needs to leave Tottenham to establish himself on a larger stage such as the champions league will have to be seen. One thing is clear. If he maintains his current form and steadied progress, he has every chance to be talked about in the same breath as Ronaldo as their styles are very similar.
Neymar still has to prove himself in Europe and he is getting that chance next season at Barcelona, playing with arguably the best player on the planet. He’s had a great confederations cup, scoring in the final for Brazil, while carrying a lot of pressure from the expectant Brazilian crowd. Thats always a good sign but the jury is still out. His very impressive performances at the confederations cup will serve as a double edged sword as they will result in an increase in expectations from the watching world. If he can deal with that as well as he dealt with the pressure of being the Brazilian poster boy, then he is on his way to a very successful career. Hitting the heights of Messi and Ronaldo will be all but hinged on his professionalism. No one can doubt the talent and abilities Neymar possesses, but many Brazilian talents in the recent past have excited the world at a young age only to let us down by their off field antics. Prime examples being Robinho and Adriano, with Ronaldinho escaping that list for his sheer abundance of natural talent.
Messi and Ronaldo have, unintentionally, created a clear oligopoly at the top. They have completely dominated the scene with their multiple trophy winning seasons in recent times as well as the constant duel in breaking world records in all aspects of the game. In my opinion, the reason Messi and Ronaldo are the best players in the world is because they can compete with the previous greats named at the start. None of the current players come close to the current top two which creates a huge gap in quality. Hopefully a Bale, or a Neymar can propel their talents to center stage and make this a moot argument in the near future.