The Fiver | Who’s the greatest: Messi or Ronaldo? The answer is obvious (2024)


It’s the question that’s been on everyone’s lips for years and years. Who’s the greatest: Messi or Ronaldo? The answer, as regular Fiver readers already know, is neither. Which is not to say that everyone’s favourite two contemporary superclub-shielded good-time Charlies aren’t amazing players in their own right – you can tell that by the sheer number of goals the pair have been bloodlessly running up – but in terms of windswept romance they’re nowhere near the likes of Obdulio Varela, Josef Masopust or Florian Albert[stop it, you’re trying too hard - Fiver Ed.] Cruyff, Maradona or Pelé.

Ah Pelé. Po’ Pelé. The great man’s stock has inexplicably fallen with the cognoscenti in recent years, his feats too shrouded by the mists of time for many today, yet too enshrined in the canon to attract the hipsters. No matter that he won two World Cups practically by himself while being kicked around like an old sock; established Santos as Os Santásticos, the best side in the world with a nickname to match; practically invented the concept of Brazil as a modern go-ahead nation; and spent the last knockings of his career preaching love to the Cosmos while lounging around Studio 54 in sunglasses Miles Davis would have thought twice about. This ... this is our guy.

Ronaldo embraces perfection as he declares himself ahead of Pelé | Nicky BandiniRead more

Sadly our hero’s legacy suffered a new blow at the weekend, as Cristiano Ronaldo rattled in a hat-trick against Cagliari, goals that took his professional tally to 770, three more than Pelé’s official record of 767. “I’m filled with joy and pride as I acknowledge the goal that puts me on top of the world’s goalscoring list, overcoming Pelé’s record, something that I could never have dreamed of while growing up as a child from Madeira,” he waffled on some internet platform or other, while Pelé himself offered “congratulations”, although the most striking bit of Pelé’s statement was “Life is a solo flight, each makes his own journey”, the sort of new-age hokum one expects from a man who spent a chunk of the seventies staring blankly at women riding white horses around nightclub dancefloors.

Thing is, there’s a slight problem with this supposedly epochal moment in sporting history: the Czech FA claims Josef Bican scored 821 times, Romário says he notched 1,000 goals, and some historians argue Pelé’s total is in fact 1,283, a number boosted by some trademark net-bothering antics in “unofficial” matches. So who to believe? Regular Fiver readers already know our answer to this one as well. Yes, O Rei is still atop his throne. Better get cracking, Cristiano, just another 514 to go.


Join Scott Murray at 8pm GMT for red-hot updates of Wolves 1-3 Liverpool.


“I am older than Mr Zinchenko, I have more experience and I don’t agree with him. The only thing he has to be worried about is trying to do a good game tomorrow. Four titles is a utopia” – Pep Guardiola gives his young full-back a dressing down over his claims Manchester City can win a quadruple.

The Fiver | Who’s the greatest: Messi or Ronaldo? The answer is obvious (1)


It’s Football Weekly, with North London derby chat and the question: what now for post-Wilder Sheffield United?


“Re: Pep moaning about the grass at the Etihad (Friday’s Fiver), I just lament the fact that they’ve already played Leeds at Elland Road so Guardiola won’t get to experience football on a surface more slippery than a Fiver hack trying to explain why they were three hours late for work holding a can of Purple Tin” – Jeremy Adams.

“Yes, let’s get rid of punditry (Friday’s Fiver letters). And co-commentators who clearly could be top coaches such is their wont to tell players what they should have done seconds after they did something else. Des in the studio, Brian in the box, and Saint and Greavsie to mop things up at the back. Happy days” – Peter Hehir.

“While it’s far from time to say There She Goes to the Ligue 1 title, PSG did themselves no favours by losing to relegation battlers on Sunday. The hosts’ coffers were the much heavier-laden but, in terms of the result, the guests’ sixpence, Nantes, the richer” – Peter Oh.

“Noble Francis had three (pretty good) letters published in The Fiver last week and didn’t win letter o’ the day (prizeless or otherwise) once. Can you give him some sort of Peter O’Toole-style honorary award or something?” – Andy Korman.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Peter Hehir.


If it’s weird goalkeeping from Poland you want, then this should hit the spot.


Mason Greenwood and Callum Hudson-Odoi have been called up for what looks a very strong England Under-21 Euro 2021 squad. The finals are split between Hungary and Slovenia and a group stage in March and June, when the knockout rounds take place.

Ángel Di María was substituted during PSG’s Ligue 1 defeat to Nantes, amid reports that his home had been robbed while his family were at the property. Teammate Marquinhos is also believed to have been targeted.

Lee Bowyer has marched himself out of the Charlton Athletic door marked ‘Do One’ and looks headed for Birmingham City. “Everyone knows how I feel about the club,” wailed Bowyer. “It will always hold a special place in my heart.”

The Fiver | Who’s the greatest: Messi or Ronaldo? The answer is obvious (2)

Fifa has opened disciplinary cases against three Russian footballers for suspected doping violations in 2013.

Funds in excess of £16m are being made available for the return of grassroots football at the end of March.

And Nat Phillips, the latest occupant of Liverpool’s centre-back drumming stool, hopes he can convince Jürgen Klopp he is around for the long haul. “My thought process is take things day by day, game by game, and try and improve,” he roared, while trying to head the sun out of the sky.


The Premier League never really stops these days, but we’ve still carved out 10 talking points to take away from the weekend’s games.

Even a moment of jaw-dropping magic from Érik Lamela couldn’t save a desperately defensive Tottenham side, laments Barney Ronay.

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to rack up individual records even in a disappointing season for Juventus, writes Nicky Bandini.

It’s one step forward and two steps back once again for Bayer Leverkusen, writes Andy Brassell in his Bundesliga review.

Ligue Urrrrn latest: Jorge Sampaoli may be a fiery South American visionary, but that doesn’t mean he will recreate Marcelo Bielsa’s magic at Marseille.

Introducing the ‘Swiss system’ would take away what little drama Big Cup has left, laments Jonathan Wilson.

Barney Ronay takes a look at Pep’s Big Cup prospects at Manchester City, complete with a cracking illustration.

The Fiver | Who’s the greatest: Messi or Ronaldo? The answer is obvious (3)

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!


The Fiver | Who’s the greatest: Messi or Ronaldo? The answer is obvious (2024)
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