Lionel Messi winning the World Cup has prompted James Maddison and Declan Rice to name him as the greatest of all time and the England duo may have now been joined by a former team-mate of Cristiano Ronaldo
The World Cup triumph for Lionel Messi in the eyes of many in the footballing world has finally settled the debate between the Argentine and Cristiano Ronaldo over who is the greatest of all time. Declan Rice, James Maddison and Jamie Carragher were just a few names who admitted their Messi preference and now even former team-mates of Ronaldo are seemingly leaning towards the Paris Saint-Germain forward.
With Messi confirming the 2022 tournament in Qatar would be his last, the fairy-tale story was there to be written, with the 35-year-old lifting the one major trophy that alluded him throughout his prestigious career.
After a shaky start to the tournament which saw Argentina lose to Saudi Arabia, Messi produced a number of sparkling displays to set up a meeting in the final at Lusali Stadium with 2018 world champions France.
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Messi scored twice in the 120 minutes played but it was Kylian Mbappe who stole the show with a hat-trick in the final that saw the game go to penalties. Emiliano Martinez was the hero though, saving Kingsley Coman's spot-kick before winning the mental battle with Real Madrid's Aurélien Tchouaméni.
Gonzalo Montiel then converted from 12 yards to crown Argentina as the new world champions and thus, in the eyes of many, place Messi as the greatest footballer of all time.
The debate between the two footballing icons has certainly swung in the favour of Messi recently but when both were playing their football in Spain, with Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, it was perhaps far closer.
Real Madrid star Toni Kroos was understandably one of the names leaning towards Ronaldo at the time with the midfielder once saying: "From my playing days, it's Cristiano Ronaldo (best player of all time). Of course, I'm biased because he made a decisive contribution to us winning a lot of titles.
"He lived right next to me. Seeing what a perfectionist he is was impressive. That is why it is forbidden for me to name Messi (as the best player of all time)."
However, after seeing Messi lift the World Cup trophy, the same prize he won in 2014 with Germany, Kroos may have had a change of heart.
Speaking after the World Cup he said on German platform MagentaTV: "He (Messi) deserves it. In terms of individual performances in a championship, I've never seen a footballer play as regularly as this guy.
"You have to take into account that he has never played for clubs that I find very funny, something that proves that I mean it.”
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