Lionel Messi 'already settled' GOAT debate with Cristiano Ronaldo even without winning World Cup
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Argentina captain Lionel Messi has “already settled” the GOAT debate involving Cristiano Ronaldo even if he doesn’t win the World Cup, according to Paul Merson.
Messi, who is competing at his final World Cup, is on the verge of capturing the one international trophy that has alluded him in his illustrious playing career.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has been in dazzling form in Qatar and played an instrumental role in leading Argentina to the World Cup final.
Messi has scored five times and registered three assists for Argentina at the Qatar World Cup, with Lionel Scaloni’s men bouncing back from a shock opening defeat to Saudi Arabia.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar is tied with club teammate Kylian Mbappe, who he faces on Sunday in the final, in the race for the World Cup Golden Boot.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, fell short of leading Portugal to the World Cup title and may have played for the last time in FIFA’s prestigious tournament.
The 37-year-old Portuguese forward was dropped to the bench in the World Cup knockout stages by Fernando Santos, who has since stepped down as Portugal head coach.
Ronaldo broke down in tears after Portugal were dumped out of the World Cup in a sensational 1-0 defeat to 10-men Morocco in the quarter-finals.
Merson admitted that he was once “split down the middle” when it came to the long-running GOAT debate between Ronaldo and Messi.
However, the Arsenal hero insisted that Messi and legendary Argentine Diego Maradona both “possess the most natural talent I have ever seen in my entire life.”
Speaking in his column for The Daily Star, Merson wrote: “For me, Messi has already settled the Cristiano Ronaldo debate.
“I used to be split down the middle but Messi and Maradona possess the most natural talent I have ever seen in my entire life. They were born with it.
“If Messi wasn’t, the coach who taught him in Argentina at six years old is the best coach in history.
“Ronaldo has had to work so hard to get where he is but Messi is just a complete and utter freak of nature. Yet still, he has taken his natural talent to the limit over the course of his career.
“I thought France would win the World Cup but after watching them against England and Morocco, they’re not that good at all.
“They've got Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, that’s the difference. I couldn't believe how bad they were against Morocco which was a major kick in the teeth for England.”
Copa America champions Argentina will clash with defending World Cup title holders France at the Lusail Stadium on Sunday, with kick-off slated for 3pm UK time.