The Stats Don't Lie: Mo Salah, Harry Kane And Even Cristiano Ronaldo Are World's Away From 'Alien' Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is the best footballer in the world. This is not a surprising statement to anyone who has watched football over the past decade with their eyes. However, it is always thought that Messi has one true competitor for that prestigious title, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo’s goalscoring record and Champions League success is truly remarkable and it can be rightly argued that he has improved with age, like a fine wine. Since 2014, he has won four Champions League titles, three Ballon d'Or awards and the European Championship making him one of the outstanding players of his generation.
So surely he has reached the levels of Lionel Messi, or even surpassed the great Argentine? No. Not even close. In a graph published, using data from Understat.com, we can see just how far ahead of everyone else Messi is.
This graph, shows, from the start of the 2014 season to the 31st December 2018 - Ronaldo's peak - how many goals from open play the top players in Europe have scored and combines it with their expected assists per 90 minutes. This gives a well-rounded graph of many of the best attacking players in the world and where they rank in terms of productivity.
In the ‘scoring lots but not creating much’ quadrant of the graph lie some of the top strikers in Europe such as Edinson Cavani, Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski. In the opposite corner, some of the best playmakers we have seen in recent years feature in the ‘creating lots of goal-scoring opportunities but not scoring much’ category.
Mesut Ozil, Angel di Maria and James Rodriguez are all featured in this category. Then we have the elite player. Those who feature in the top right corner, under the quadrant title ‘Scoring often and creating lots of goal-scoring opportunities. In this section, we find Cristiano Ronaldo (just) along with Mo Salah, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
But wait, what is that purple speck high in the top right corner? Jeez, that’s Lionel Messi. He is so far ahead of anybody else when it comes to these statistics it is almost like he is playing a different sport. He is on another galaxy compared to these mortals. He is an alien.
It shouldn’t be possible to register numbers like this whilst playing the game in such a delightful way. Not only is he the best goalscorer in world football but he is by far the best passer and playmaker too. It may be good for debate shows on Sky, conversations in pubs and arguments on social media, but, realistically, it is an insult to compare anyone currently playing football to Lionel Messi.