Cristiano Ronaldo Just ‘Great’, Lionel Messi A ‘Genius,’ Insists Former Real Madrid Manager

The debate over whether Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi is the better soccer player is one that will probably never be answered. The Portuguese and Real Madrid forward has his die-hard section of supporters, as does the Argentinian and Barcelona striker, and neither seem to budge.

However, it’s also a debate that soccer fans and aficionados will continue to furiously argue over even after both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have retired. Countless experts have had their say in the argument over the years, and now Fabio Capello has chimed in insisting that while Ronaldo is a “great goalscorer” Lionel Messi is a bonafide “genius.”

[Image via Getty/Alex Caparros]

Speaking ahead of Real Madrid’s clash with Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Saturday afternoon, which resulted in a 1-1 stalemate, the former AC Milan and England manager Fabio Capello spoke to AS, via beIN Sports, about the two players.

And the Italian made it clear that he believes Lionel Messi has more natural ability than his Portuguese counterpart, which he believes makes him just that little bit better. Fabio Capello explained.

“It’s simple, Cristiano Ronaldo is a great goalscorer but he doesn’t have the brilliance of Lionel Messi. Messi at the age of 17 or 18 was a genius, Cristiano was a good player who improved through hard work and effort and has become an excellent forward. He is not just a great player but an excellent one, however he doesn’t have that ability to mesmerise or pull off moves that are unimaginable. That for me is the difference.”

Clearly, despite putting Lionel Messi just ahead of him in this debate, Fabio Capello is still a huge fan of Cristiano Ronaldo. In fact, Capello believes that Cristiano Ronaldo is the more deserving winner of the 2016 Ballon d’Or, as he has achieved more success with Real Madrid and Portugal over the last 12 months than Lionel Messi has with both Barcelona and Argentina. Capello remarked.

“Yes, certainly he’s my favorite for the year. He was instrumental in Portugal winning Euro 2016 and Madrid winning the Champions League. He’d be the worthy winner.”

Earlier this week, it was announced that Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Atletico Madrid and France’s Antoine Griezmann were the trio of finalists for this year’s prize. Griezmann becomes the seventh footballer to challenge Ronaldo and Messi for the award, with Fernando Torres, Neymar, Manuel Neuer, Andres Iniesta, Franck and Xavi failing to usurp the duo. Currently, Messi has been named world player of year five times, and Ronaldo just three.

Despite his insistence that Cristiano Ronaldo is the more deserving winner of the 2016 Ballon d’Or, Fabio Capello still made it clear that in the grand scheme of things he sees Lionel Messi as the better footballer. He added, “However, when we talk about genius players then that’s a totally different debate.”

[Image via Getty/Philipp Schmidli]

What makes Fabio Capello’s comments even more interesting is that the Italian has actually had two stints as manager at the Bernabeu. But, to be fair to him, Capello’s tenures between 1996 – 1997 and 2006 – 2007 didn’t overlap with Cristiano Ronaldo’s time at the club.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo once again went head to head on Saturday when Barcelona hosted Real Madrid in La Liga. Both were relatively subdued throughout, though, as goals from Luis Suarez in the second half of the contest and then a last gasp header from defender Sergio Ramos meant that the match ended in a 1-1 draw. This scoreline also means that Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid are still six points clear of Luis Enrique’s Barcelona at the top of La Liga table, meaning that they’re the firm favorites to the title for the first time since 2011-2012.

[Featured Image by Alex Caparros/Getty Images]