• Oliver Barefoot

RONALDO VS MESSI: Why has one flourished and one stalled?

In what will go down in football history as the most surreal transfer window to date, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi both moved to pastures new.

For one it has been a homecoming like no other. Emotional reunions with title winning team mates to goals galore in-front of belly bellowing fans chanting out his name. Old Trafford and the supporters inside seemingly never aged, for recent scenes can mirror memories of 12-years-ago.

But for the other, frustration and managerial anger has been the pick of the headlines. Temperamental side-lines scenes and no goals to his name, means Messi is having a Parisian nightmare.

So why have the two greatest players, had such drastically different starts to their new campaigns?


Changing clubs is never easy. The expectations from the price tag paid and wages agreed, to the gigantic eye of the footballing world scrutinising every minuscule part of this nerve wrenching occasion.

Combine that with the task of moving your family to a whole new country to live, work and learn and the weight of such an enormous decision just starts to become clear.

However for some this burden can be lighter, especially if you are moving back to a club and city that you spent six years of your life at.

By no means has Ronaldo’s return been an easy one. Any transfer has its struggles, but to return to a club that you already know definitely lightens the load.

Both Messi and Ronaldo are the two greatest footballers the sport has ever known, but the contrast in early campaign stats is startling.

Each have played in three games, two league appearances and one in the Champions League. Although despite their game time, their impact on the pitch is polar opposites.

Joint second in the Premier League goalscoring charts, Ronaldo has so far scored three league goals and one in the Champions League, compared to his rivals zero in both competitions.

Huge amounts of this can been placed on the difficulty of relocating, especially when you consider the background of each player.

Ronaldo not only spent several years at Manchester United, building his reputation and winning titles, but he also has a recent history of being a traveller. The Portuguese has played for four teams throughout his senior career, with two transfers happening in the last three years alone.

That is double the amount of transfers Messi has had in his entire career.

Having spent 17 years at his beloved Barcelona, changing club, city and country was never going to be an easy task, giving Ronaldo the lead on any competition between the two to get of the mark the quickest.

With a CV boasting of clubs such as Juventus, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Sporting Lisbon, Ronaldo’s determination to dominate football on a global scale has led to this impressive catalogue of European powerhouses. Whilst simultaneously making him accustomed to cultural and tactical changes.

Whereas Messi’s loyalty has left him struggling to fit in.


For most moving clubs is a welcome break, a fresh start to conquer new leagues and competitions. It’s an opportunity normally asked for, but not for Messi.

Completing a transfer to Paris St-Germain would be a dream come true for most footballers and it mostly likely was for Argentina’s star player when he found out he had to leave his boyhood club.

However, it was never his priority.

In a whirlwind story of transfer requests and boardroom changes, Messi’s transfer saga was a 18-month ordeal.

But to everyone, including the player himself it all seemed set that he would remain at the Nou Camp this season.

But that wasn’t to be.

In a heart-breaking twist for the player, club and fans of Barcelona, Messi’s hand was forced and a move to PSG materialised. Within the space of a week, Messi had gone from preparing to re-sign for Barcelona to catching a flight to France, after a tear wrenching farewell press conference.

So how can anyone expect star studded displays this early on?

As previously discussed moving club is hard. And that’s made even harder when the move wasn’t your choice.

Now of course, Messi would have picked to join PSG after his Barca fate was sealed, but no matter where he ended up, his heart was clearly still in Spain.

In contrast, Ronaldo’s departure from Juventus came as glorious news to the former Real Madrid man.

Just like his competitor, Ronaldo’s undecisive future was printed on the back pages of every newspaper across the world. One of the best players in the world, to many the best, wanting a transfer is huge news.

So the relief of knowing his much desired exit from Italy was happening, would have rung like church bells to a Sunday mass in the ears of the footballing legend.


In all honesty, after looking at these moves in clear daylight, it is no wonder that Ronaldo has taken to life at Manchester United, quicker than Messi to PSG.

If anything it would be ludicrous to expect anything but this to have happened.

You try getting torn away from your boyhood home, where you have made your career and brought up your family for the past 17-years, all whilst having the world watch intently and tell me it’s easy.

And no. No matter how much money you’re paid, it doesn’t gloss over the fact this was a life changing move.

Congratulations Ronaldo and good luck Messi.