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Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Who Was More Dominant in 2023?

Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo

The competition between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo defined an era, but in 2023, they’re both nearing the end of their careers, albeit at different phases – how do they compare now?

For many, Messi settled the GOAT discussion in the last weeks of 2022, after playing in Argentina’s World Cup success in Qatar and being awarded Player of the Tournament. Ronaldo had lost his starting spot for Portugal and had terminated his contract at Manchester United, resulting in a lucrative move to the Saudi Pro League.

It’s been fascinating to watch the two icons’ careers unfold this year.

PSG’s form deteriorated significantly following the mid-season World Cup break in the second half of last season. They endured a lot of shocking defeats in Ligue 1 and were ousted from the Champions League and Coupe de France, but they eventually won the league title.

Messi stated he wasn’t pleased in Paris and seemed to be enjoying his new life in America. The 36-year-old Argentinian has had an outstanding start at MLS team Inter Miami, scoring or assisting in – and winning in – practically every outing so far. He’s already won a trophy, having shined in the Leagues Cup.

“People in this city and this club have made it very easy for us,” Messi said to reporters.

“The fans, the people that I meet every day on the streets in the city where we are now… it’s a spectacular city, and that’s why I can live with happiness.”

After Inter Miami failed to qualify for the MLS play-offs, Messi has now played his final game of 2023. He played in Argentina’s recent World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Brazil, and he will now rest until the 2024 MLS season, his first full season with Miami.

His eternal rival appears to be content with working in a different culture and environment.

“I think you should look at the (Saudi Pro League) in a different way,” Ronaldo stated in March, shortly after joining Al Nassr.

“I won’t say the league is a Premier League; that would be a lie.” But it’s a very competitive league that has pleasantly surprised me, with a well-balanced league and strong teams. I am confident that the league will be… the fourth, fifth, or sixth most competitive league in the globe in the future years.”

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward has been prolific since joining Al Nassr, although the team failed to win any trophies last season. They lost to Al-Wehda in the King Cup semi-finals and finished second in the league to Nuno Espirito Santo’s Al Ittihad.

Al Nassr, on the other hand, won the Arab Club Champions Cup and are looking competitive in the Saudi Pro League following a summer influx of superstar acquisitions.

But how do Messi and Ronaldo’s stats in 2023 compare so far? We dug into their statistics for club and nation to see how they stand up against one another.

Category Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo
Games 44 58
Minutes played 688 5094
Goals 28 58
Assists 12 15
Hat-tricks 1 3
Free-kicks scored 5 3
Minutes per goal 131.7 96.1
Minutes per non-penalty goal 131.7 134.1
Minutes per goal or assist 92.2 74.9

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