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“It’s a cruel comparison. Both of them deserve respect.” These were the words of Ronaldo Nazario when asked to comment on the GOAT debate surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. But the Brazilian legend has sparked controversy with his latest comments. Years after not including CR7 in his Greatest-eight selection, R9 again gave the cold shoulder to the Portuguese superstar in favor of the Argentine icon to settle the never-ending argument. 

The shocking assertion was made in the latest interview with Mail Sport. In a rapid-fire round, the Real Valladolid president was asked a ‘Messi or Ronaldo?’ question. Without any second thoughts, the 2x World Champion replied, “Messi.” Interestingly, these were the only responses to the questions that caused a stir. When asked about the potential winners of the 2024 Euros, Nazario backed Spain, who last lifted the coveted trophy in 2012. Additionally, he labeled Paolo Maldini as the best defender he’s ever faced in his illustrious career. That’s not all!

The AC Milan icon labeled Real Madrid-bound Kylian Mbappe as the best striker in the world right now, vocally snubbing the likes of Erling Haaland and Vinicius Jr. However, don’t lose your smiles, Cityzens, as when asked about the winner of the 2024 Premier League, he backed Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Indeed, these are some fascinating replies from the 2X Ballon d’Or winner, especially concerning the GOAT debate. Notably, this isn’t the first time he has candidly expressed his admiration for Messi. 


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He once asserted, “I love watching Messi with the ball at his feet. He scores goals and everything else.” It doesn’t end here, as let’s take a look at which other stars made it into his top 8 ahead of CR7. 


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Lionel Messi does, but Cristiano Ronaldo fails to make Ronaldo Nazario’s greatest 8!

In an interview with the Guardian, Ronaldo Nazario revealed his list of the eight greatest players. “I think there is a very, very special group where you have Diego [Maradona], [Lionel] Messi, [Johan] Cruyff, [Franz] Beckenbauer, Pelé, [Marco] Van Basten, Ronaldinho,” he said. Surprisingly, Ronaldo included himself as an eighth player with a bold claim. 

READ MORE: From Hero to Villain? Cristiano Ronaldo Misses Empty Goal From 2 Yards for Al Nassr, & Trolled Online – “Needs to Retire”


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“Let the fans say, let them debate it in the bars. But you can’t rank them, can’t compare generations,” he said. Once more, Cristiano Ronaldo finds himself absent from Nazario’s greatest-ever list. What’s surprising is that other legends like Michel Platini, Alfredo Di Stefano, Zinedine Zidane, George Best, and Ferenc Puskas may all feel overlooked. 

Be that as it may, it appears that Ronaldo Nazario has settled the GOAT debate by fervently backing Lionel Messi as his preferred player. But we would like to know your thoughts on this. 

Written by

Abhishek Mishra


One take at a time

Abhishek Mishra is a senior Soccer Writer at EssentiallySports. His early exposure to playing soccer earned him many accolades at college divisions, making him a sports enthusiast. While closely following daily updates for over a decade, Abhishek is well-versed in European soccer and now the MLS, as well.
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