The debate between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has dominated the football world for the last decade – but which side of the fence do this generation’s wonderkids sit on?
There can be little doubt that both players rank among the best of all time and we are lucky enough to have witnessed them both at their peak in our lifetimes.
We’ve had a closer look at the current wonderkids coming through in the world of football to see whether they idolised Messi or Ronaldo growing up.
The Brazilian wonderkid is one of the hottest prospects in the world right now. While the 17-year-old speaks highly of Messi, it’s no surprise the incoming Real Madrid player idolised Ronaldo when growing up.
“My dream since I was a kid was to play for Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo is my idol,” Endrick explained.
“Messi is a phenomenal guy! But I’m more of a fan of Cristiano. It’s a great pride knowing that I’ll wear the same shirt as Cristiano.”
🇧🇷 Endrick: “My dream since I was a kid was to play for Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo is my idol”.
“Messi is a phenomenal guy! But I'm more of a fan of Cristiano…”.
“It’s a great pride knowing that I’ll wear the same shirt as Cristiano”. pic.twitter.com/pWBlcXreAj
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 20, 2023
Garnacho is lucky enough to have played alongside both Messi and Ronaldo in his formative years. While the Argentine winger clearly has a lot of respect for Messi, it’s no secret that he grew up idolising Ronaldo.
The Manchester United youngster took to Instagram last year and captioned a picture of himself and Ronaldo with the phrase: “Greatest of all times.”
It won’t come as much surprise to learn that Gavi idolised Messi growing up. The Barcelona youngster has always spoke glowingly about Messi and it’s a shame they never got the chance to play alongside each other.
“It is a source of pride to take over from Pedri and receive awards that Messi, who is a great reference and, for me, the best player in history, also won,” Gavi told Mundo Deportivo after winning the Golden Boy award.
Likewise, it should come as no surprise that Pedri sides with Messi in the age-old debate.
“Cristiano is an amazing player,” Pedri told reporters: “It is a total show watching him scoring goals. But for me Messi is more complete, a player who gives you all. For me, I stay with Leo Messi.”
Upon signing for Real Madrid, Guler admitted that Ronaldo was among his idols when growing up: “My idol? Cristiano Ronaldo, Zidane, Guti, Ozil… I want to be a legend of this club.”
While Bellingham is looking to follow in the footsteps of Ronaldo at Real Madrid, he admitted that he sides with Messi in the age-old debate when asked the question.
“Messi for me, for sure,” Bellingham admitted. “You can just watch him and think like ‘How does he do that?’ Every time I watch him, he just does something that I just think ‘You can’t be human’.”
— ∞ (@deanfcb) November 13, 2023
The Borussia Dortmund youngster is considered one of the top young talents in Europe and his brother Borel Moukoko revealed who the striker idolised when growing up.
“Youssoufa has always liked Lionel Messi,” Borel told Goal. “We also often watched the games from the top European leagues or the Champions League together. That was always wonderful.”
The Bayern Munich youngster does share some similar traits with Messi, especially when it comes to his close control and nimble dribbling ability.
“I loved the Clasicos between Ronaldo and Messi. But despite all my appreciation for Cristiano, I’m ‘Team Messi’,” Musiala explained.
“He is my role model. He has scored so many goals, he has won so many titles.. and he never changed. He remained faithful to his principles.”
Fernandez won the 2022 World Cup playing alongside Messi and it’s no surprise that the Chelsea man sees the legendary Argentine forward as an idol.
“He means a lot to everyone in the world. He’s a legend for Argentina. He’s a loved person, an idol for all Argentinians, for our children,” Fernandez told reporters.
“As a person, I have no complaints about him. He’s always given me so much love. He’s always respected me and was a great teammate in all senses. I’m very thankful for having played with him.”
The Dutch youngster clearly has a great respect for both players and their legacy in the game. Simons did get the chance to play alongside Messi at PSG and slightly edges towards the Argentine in the debate.
“I admire both,” Simons admitted. “I think Cristiano is really amazing but I grew up in Barcelona watching Messi and I also played with him (at PSG) so for me, Messi.”