One of the most popular debates amongst football fans, who the better footballer is? Ronaldo or Messi!?
Although both footballers are absolute monsters on the field everyone does have their opinion on them as to why one is better than the other with their own justifications.
Well, it is very hard to solve the debate of who the footballing G.O.A.T is. This article does not intend to solve that debate too, however, this is an interesting experiment done using the Football Manager 2020 editor to see what happens if Ronaldo and Messi directly switched teams in the 2019/2020 season.
Please note that this is just an experiment done for fun purposes and a lot of it depends on luck and how the roll of the dice went according to the FM Database.
Let's delve right in to see what happens if we exchange the two greats and put Messi right into the Juventus (Zebre) squad & Ronaldo into Barcelona.
Lionel Messi's season at Juventus
Let us start with how Messi’s season went. The individual stats of Messi, as always is incredible.
With 15 goals and 13 assists just in the league (30 games) and another 5 goals and an assist in the UCL (7 games) it is fair to say that Messi definitely did justice to the swap and the Juventus squad. His incredible average rating of over 8 combined with extremely high passing and dribbling stats is testament to how he has torn the Serie A apart with his individual performances. He has been crowned the MOTM an incredible 16 times in the season.
Surprisingly, Messi has been played as a striker down the middle or as an attacking midfielder and not his favoured right side of the pitch. It is definitely a pleasant surprise to see him with such high numbers despite being played slightly off position.
The team effort of Juventus is slightly underwhelming. Despite winning the Serie A, it was a very close race to the title with Juventus just edging Inter by 2 points. Juventus also failed to go past the QF stage of UCL, getting knocked out by Liverpool. The club even failed to win the 2 domestic cup competitions. Messi, however, finished a close 3rd in the golden boot race and was amongst the league’s top assisters.
Cristiano Ronaldo's season at Barcelona
Moving on to how Ronaldo’s season fared, a quick look at his individual stats show that even he has had a very good season with respect to numbers.
With 24 goals and 8 assists from 36 league games, Ronaldo has once again set the La Liga on fire but this time for the Cules. With a very respectable 7.88 average rating and a staggering 12 MOTM awards, it is safe to say that changing clubs did not hinder Ronaldo in any way. However, his UCL form was a little underwhelming with Ronaldo just scoring 4 goals and contributing 1 assist in 12 games for Barcelona.
At Barcelona, Ronaldo was mainly played as a left-winger and very rarely as a striker which makes his 24 league goal tally even more spectacular.
The big difference though is with results as Barcelona have crushed the La Liga winning the league by a comfortable 8 points registering just 3 losses on their way. Barcelona have also successfully won the UEFA Champion’s League after five years by beating Inter on penalties. They have also won 1 domestic cup. Ronaldo has been one of the major contributors for the team’s success with him claiming the golden boot in the league.
Ronaldo Messi swap - summary
In the end, it is clear that even the game’s engine finds it nearly impossible to separate the two with them having excellent numbers even after the swap. Despite Ronaldo having the edge by guiding his team to 3 trophies, Messi had the better individual numbers so just like in real life, let us call this a draw.