Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Stats reveal the players most similar to legendary duo

  • Kobe Tong
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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the two greatest players of their generation.

With more than 1,000 goals and 10 Ballon d'Or trophies between them, it's been nothing short of a privilege to see two icons of the beautiful game spreading their magic for the last decade and a half.

However, as we know, all good things come to end and there's a quiet acknowledgement that the curtains are drawing on Messi and Ronaldo's footballing duopoly.

Messi and Ronaldo's heirs

With the legendary duo ploughing deeper and deeper into their thirties, fans are coming to terms with the fact we might only be able to enjoy them both for another couple of years.

And the flames of that very conversation were fanned in the Champions League this week with Kylian Mbappe and Erling Braut Haaland both delivering superb performances.

While it's unlikely that the Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund stars will quite reach Messi and Ronaldo's level, you wouldn't put it past them to hoover up Ballon d'Or plaques.

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Similar to Messi and Ronaldo

Nevertheless, here at GIVEMESPORT, we wanted to take a unique approach to imagine who might inherit Messi and Ronaldo's mantle when the time comes for them to retire.

And we've done so by discovering the current players who are most similar to the two superstars.

That's because FBRef's database, which uses statistics provided by StatsBomb, combs through the numbers to see which players have the most similar portfolios to Messi and Ronaldo.

As you can imagine, making the cut is nothing short of a massive compliment, so be sure to check out the ten players who Messi and Ronaldo respectively the most down below:

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Players most similar to Lionel Messi

10. Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)

9. Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich)

8. Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain)

7. Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)

6. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

5. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

4. Papu Gomez (Sevilla)

3. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

2. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

1. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

Sancho might not be hitting the heights of 2019/20 in Germany this season, but make no mistake that he's still attracting serious interest across Europe and this result will do little to change that.

Besides, it's easy to see how Sancho draws statistical similarities with Messi given his penchant for mixing goals and assist, surpassing 15 for both metrics in the Bundesliga last season.

Elsewhere, Rashford finishing as high as the top five is a huge feather in his cap and it's great to see Grealish getting the credit he deserves in the midst of a superb Premier League campaign.

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Players most similar to Cristiano Ronaldo

10. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

9. Joaquin Correa (Lazio)

8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan)

7. Timo Werner (Chelsea)

6. Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan)

5. Duvan Zapata (Atalanta)

4. Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

3. Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

1. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

There's something poetic about the statistics naming Benzema as the most similar player to Ronaldo when you consider they combined for 76 goals during their time together at Real Madrid.

But it's even more remarkable to notice that Messi wiggles his way onto the podium, which, weirdly, suggests that the Barcelona star is a lot like Ronaldo without Ronaldo being a lot like him. Huh?

That bizarre fact aside, though, we can definitely see the comparisons between Lukaku, Immobile and Ibrahimovic, while Chelsea fans will be desperate to see Werner living up to his ranking.

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So, there you have it, the data might not have chosen the heirs to Ronaldo and Messi's thrones -there's no Mbappe or Haaland, lest we forget - but the results are nonetheless fascinating to read.

Besides, it's difficult to see these 20 players doing anything but shine in the years to come because if you're similar to Messi and Ronaldo in any context, then you're doing something right.

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