Time catches up with us all...

Comparing Lionel Messi’s career record to Cristiano Ronaldo at the age of 37

Lionel Messi has turned 37, offering us a reminder that he’s approaching the final stretch of his astonishing career. But how do his numbers stack up against his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo at the same age?

Ronaldo is a couple of years older than Messi, having himself turned 37 back in February 2022 when he was still at Manchester United.

It’s a testament to the two players’ longevity that they’re both still pushing on and playing major international tournaments at an age where a huge number of footballers will have already decided to hang up their boots.

Messi will celebrate his latest birthday in the United States while on Argentina duty, having kicked off the 2024 Copa America with another vintage display in their opening 2-0 victory over Canada.

“I’ve done this all of my life; I love playing ball,” Argentina’s captain told ESPN Argentina, in a reflective mood, ahead of this year’s Copa America.

“I enjoy the practices and the day-to-day, the games. Yeah, there’s a bit of fear that it’s all ending. It’s always there. It was a difficult step leaving Europe to come here [Miami].

“The fact we won the World Cup helped, it helped a lot, to see things in another way. But I try not to think about it. I try to enjoy it. I do that more now because I’m aware that there’s not a lot of time left. So I have a good time with the club, being lucky having good teammates and friends at my side.

“I enjoy my time with the national team, where I also have good friends, too, and a lot. I enjoy those small details that I know I’ll miss when I stop playing.”

Having won everything there is to win, Messi has reached the age of 37 at Inter Miami, hunting down MLS records as he winds down the final years of his career away from the elite European spotlight.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, was still playing in the Premier League when he turned 37. He finished that season with a respectable 22 goals in all competitions, but United struggled, finishing sixth and registering their lowest points tally of the Premier League era.

He did remain at Old Trafford for the following season but he agreed to terminate his contract early, on the eve of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. By his 38th birthday in February 2023, he’d joined Saudi Pro League outfit Al Nassr.

Ronaldo has played over a hundred games for club and country since turning 37, scored 92 goals and notched 22 assists – which might serve as inspiration for what Messi can do in the coming years.

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Here’s how Messi’s career record now stacks up against Ronaldo’s at the same age:

Lionel Messi at 37

Games: 1065
Minutes played: 87,492

Goals: 837
Assists: 374

Penalties scored: 109
Hat-tricks: 57
Free-kicks scored: 65

Minutes per goal: 104.5
Minutes per non-penalty goal: 120.1
Minutes per goal or assist: 72.2

Cristiano Ronaldo at 37

Games: 1103
Minutes played: 89,754

Goals: 803
Assists: 230

Penalties scored: 143
Hat-tricks: 58
Free-kicks scored: 57

Minutes per goal:  111.7
Minutes per non-penalty goal: 135.9
Minutes per goal or assist: 86.88

Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo Age 37 goals assists comparison