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MLS Players Say the Messi vs. Ronaldo Debate is Over

Last Updated: January 20, 2023
More than a dozen MLS star players and TV analysts discuss whether Lionel Messi’s World Cup triumph ended the Messi vs. Ronaldo GOAT debate.

Barely a month out from Lionel Messi bringing home the World Cup trophy to Argentina for the first time since 1986, the GOAT debate between him and Cristiano Ronaldo may be over. Maybe.

We all remember the incredible duels Messi and Ronaldo had against one another each year in El Clásico as respective members of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, then later when Messi moved on to Paris Saint-Germain and Ronaldo to Juventus. But there was a sense of finality last month when Ronaldo signed a contract with Saudi side Al-Nassr for more than $200 million per year. It felt like we’d never see two of the greatest ever face one another again.

Thankfully, PSG is heading to Riyadh on Thursday for an exhibition match against an all-star group of players from clubs Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal, the latter of which reportedly offered Messi a contract worth an insane $300 million per season.

At Major League Soccer media day last week in San Jose, Boardroom spoke to more than a dozen star players and TV analysts about whether Messi’s World Cup triumph ended the soccer GOAT debate with Ronaldo once and for all.

NOTE: Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Messi vs. Ronaldo: Is the GOAT Debate Over?

Xherdan Shaquiri, winger, Chicago Fire: No, this debate is never going to be over.

Taylor Twellman, TV analyst, MLS/Apple: Yes

Maurice Edu, TV analyst, MLS/Apple: There was no debate! Messi was the GOAT before the World Cup.

Justen Glad, defender, Real Salt Lake: Done. Finished.

Mark-Anthony Kaye, midfielder, Toronto FC: The GOAT debate is over.

Lucas Zelarayan, midfielder, Columbus Crew: Even before [the World Cup], it was Messi always.

Kellyn Acosta, midfielder, LAFC: I’m team Messi anyway.

João Klauss, forward, St. Louis City: Yeah, I think so.

Jesus Ferreira, forward, FC Dallas: Yes, Messi is the best of the best.

DeAndre Yedlin, defender/midfielder, Inter Miami: Yes.

Christian Benteke, forward, D.C. United: I think so, yes.

Cade Cowell, wing, San Jose Earthquakes: They’re different players, but Messi’s achieved more now.

Andre Blake, goalie, Philadelphia Union: I think it’s over.

Cristian Roldan, midfielder, Seattle Sounders: It’s over. It’s done.

Twellman: I find the Messi-Ronaldo debate to be the biggest waste of time. But if we’re going to do that, Messi’s the GOAT.

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