Comparing Lionel Messi’s and Cristiano Ronaldo’s records in 2023

Lionel Messi of Inter Miami and Cristiano Ronaldo of Al-Nassr.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s rivalry defined an era but in 2023 they’re beginning to wind down their careers, albeit at different stages – but how do they compare at this point?

For many, Messi settled the GOAT debate in the final weeks of 2022, having played a starring role – named Player of the Tournament – in Argentina’s World Cup triumph in Qatar. Ronaldo lost his place in Portugal’s starting XI and had terminated his contract at Manchester United, leading to a lucrative move to the Saudi Pro League.

It’s been interesting to follow the two icons this year as they’ve down their careers.

In the latter half of last season, PSG’s form has dipped considerably since the mid-season World Cup break. They suffered a number of shock defeats in Ligue 1 and were eliminated from the Champions League and Coupe de France, although they still wrapped up the league title in the end.

Messi himself admitted he wasn’t happy in Paris and seems to have enjoyed his new life in the United States. The 36-year-old Argentinian made an exceptional start at MLS club Inter Miami, scoring or assisting in – and winning in – almost each and every one of his appearances so far. He’s already lifted silverware, having shone in the Leagues Cup.

“People in this city and this club have made it easy for us,” Messi told reporters.

“The fans, the people that I meet every day on the streets in the city where we are now… it’s a spectacular city, and that’s why I can live with happiness.”

Messi has now played his final game of 2023 after Inter Miami failed to qualify for the MLS play-offs. He featured in Argentina’s recent World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Brazil and will now rest until the 2024 MLS campaign, which will be his first full season with Miami.

His eternal rival also seems to be pretty satisfied with plying his trade in a different culture and environment.

“I think you should look at the (Saudi Pro League) in a different way,” Ronaldo said back in March, having joined Al Nassr in January.

“I’m not going to say that the league is a Premier League, that would be a lie. But it’s a very competitive league that I’m positively surprised by, a very balanced league and good teams. I am sure that in the coming years the league will be … the fourth, fifth or sixth most competitive league in the world.”

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward has been in prolific goalscoring form since signing for Al Nassr, but the club failed to win any silverware last season. They suffered defeat to Al-Wehda in the semi-finals of the King Cup and ended up as runners-up behind Nuno Espirito Santo’s Al Ittihad in the league.

Al Nassr did win the Arab Club Champions Cup though, and are looking competitive in the Saudi Pro League after its sudden influx of superstar signings in the summer.

But how do Messi and Ronaldo’s stats compare in 2023 so far? We’ve delved into their numbers for club and country and assessed how they stack up against one another.

Lionel Messi

Games: 44
Minutes played: 3688

Goals: 28
Assists: 12

Penalties scored: 0
Hat-tricks: 1
Free-kicks scored: 5

Minutes per goal: 131.7
Minutes per non-penalty goal: 131.7
Minutes per goal or assist: 92.2

Cristiano Ronaldo

Games: 51
Minutes played: 4484

Goals: 46
Assists: 13

Penalties scored: 12
Hat-tricks: 3
Free-kicks scored: 3

Minutes per goal: 97.5
Minutes per non-penalty goal: 131.8
Minutes per goal or assist: 91.5

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