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- Stop comparing Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo, a growing number of soccer stars are saying.
- The FC Barcelona forward produced yet another remarkable performance in this season’s UEFA Champions League when he helped his team take down Liverpool FC 3-0 on Wednesday.
- Messi has almost doubled Ronaldo’s goals and assists haul this year, and he could yet guide Barça to the Champions League title this season.
- Some of the biggest stars in soccer are saying he’s the best right now – and the best there’s ever been.
- Read more of Business Insider’s coverage for the 2018-2019 European soccer season here.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
Some of the biggest stars in soccer are saying Lionel Messi is so good there’s no longer any comparison to his longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
The technically adept Argentine and the Portuguese powerhouse have been virtually inseparable for more than a decade as each made his case for being the world’s best – winning UEFA Champions League titles, league championships, and individual awards like the Ballon d’Or.
But Messi’s form throughout the season, in which he has scored 46 goals and created 16 in La Liga and European competitions, has placed him a level above his historic peer Ronaldo, who has produced little more than half Messi’s haul with 26 goals and 10 assists in this season’s Serie A and Champions League tournaments.
Even before FC Barcelona’s remarkable 3-0 victory over Liverpool FC on Wednesday, Messi had been hailed by the Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp as the world’s best soccer player.
“I don’t want to talk about the others,” the Guardian columnist Sid Lowe quoted Klopp saying this week when asked who would feature in a top-five ranking of the best players in history. “Messi is the best,” he added. “I have seen a lot of good players. I’ve coached a lot … but the best is Messi.”
Speaking after Messi’s nearly flawless performance in the first leg of the Liverpool Champions League semifinal at Camp Nou, where the 31-year-old wrote headlines around the world for an outrageous free kick struck in the 82nd minute, Klopp told the BBC that it was in these moments when Messi was “unstoppable.”
Klopp is not the only prominent member of the soccer community to marvel at Messi’s majesty.
The Olympique Marseille striker Mario Balotelli said the Barça player’s latest display meant he could no longer be compared to Ronaldo and had entered a league of his own.
“For the love of football, please do not compare him to the No. 7 of Juventus anymore,” Balotelli said, according to Goal.com.
And finally, the AS Monaco midfielder Cesc Fàbregas, who played alongside Messi in Barcelona from 2011 to 2014, wrote on Twitter that it was “impossible for someone to tell me there’s someone better than him.”
Es imposible que alguien me diga que ha habido alguien mejor que el.
— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) May 1, 2019
When it comes to individual awards, both Messi and Ronaldo are tied with five Ballon d’Or trophies, awarded through an annual vote on the world’s best player. But should Messi guide Barcelona to the Champions League trophy this season, his fifth with the team, the Argentine will most likely surpass Ronaldo and claim a sixth player-of-the-year prize later in 2019.
Barcelona plays Liverpool in the second leg at Anfield on May 7, before the tournament final on June 1.