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What would Lionel Messi’s stats be if he played as many games as Cristiano Ronaldo have?

When it comes to the topic of the greatest footballers in history, the names of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would undoubtedly rate among the top two, with the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona and a few others also rightfully in the conversation.

The staggering numbers and records that the Argentine and the Portuguese are still amassing to this day are absolutely mind-boggling and their rivalry is made even more incredible as their statistics are almost evenly matched, making it that much more difficult to decide who has the edge among the two.

That said, however, there is one particular crucial data that clearly sets both the maestros apart – their age. Ronaldo and Messi are definitely not running neck-to-neck age-wise with the Portuguese at 36 whereas the Argentine is two years his junior at 34.

The two-year gap might not sound like much at a cursory glance, yet it is invariably critical when it comes to comparing Ronaldo and Messi’s statistics because of the different context that it would certainly provide if the additional 730 days were to be factored in, not to mention that the debate has to be fair also to the younger Messi in having had to suffer that two-year disparity in appearances on the pitch across all competitions.

While it is undeniable Ronaldo might have scored more goals at both club and international level, it would only be fair to caveat that distinction by way of the the Portuguese striker and current Man United star being more than 700-over days older. Which does actually make a whole lot more than just a marginal difference to the stats ultimately.

What this would now mean is that there is no guarantee that every record that Ronaldo either has already broken – or could break in the near future as long as he continues to play competitively – won’t ever be eclipsed by Messi once he’s caught up with the two-year discrepancy.

Now, with all the new cogs in the machinery, there are infinitely more moving parts involved than what existed originally before the two-year age difference was factored into the ‘who’s the greatest?’ equation. Which makes it very fascinating to burrow into an entirely new hypothetical rabbit hole of how Messi and Ronaldo’s data might actually compare if they had in fact played the same amount of games to make up for the shortage of appearances made by the diminutive Argentine wizard.

To achieve this objective has meant calling upon the data over at, the self-proclaimed largest statistical study of Ronaldo vs Messi on the internet, as well as a simple functioning calculator, to do the computations.

The next step would involve bringing into play Messi’s averages for goals and assists per game to project more accurately the number of additional goal contributions that he might have amassed if he had played the same number of matches as his arch-rival Ronaldo.

But first, for context as well as for reference before the situation is rendered ceteris paribus on a totally level plateau for both the megastar footballers, here are how the iconic pair shape up in the real world at this moment in time:

Cristiano Ronaldo

Games played: 1,089

Goals scored: 798 (0.73 per game)

Assists provided: 228 (0.21 per game)

Lionel Messi

Games played: 942

Goals scored: 755 (0.80 per game)

Assists provided: 315 (0.34 per game)

Ronaldo vs Messi: Projected stats with equal games

Then, here is the imaginary scenario in which Messi can match Ronaldo’s number of appearances:

Cristiano Ronaldo

Games played: 1,089

Goals scored: 798

Assists provided: 228

Lionel Messi

Games played: 1,089

Goals scored: 872

Assists provided: 364

In summarising, Messi – at his projected rate having compensated for a two-year age gap – would have 74 more goals and 136 more assists, making for a total of 210 additional goal contributions, than Ronaldo across the same amount of games.

Although the system used to bridge the significant 24-month deficit is not perfect, it is at least to all intents and purposes fair and not unreasonable in using Messi’s goal average and assists average per game as the multiplier, it is now shown that Messi churns out goals and assists at a considerably quicker rate than Ronaldo, so would be well on course to surpass his eternal rival, with the proviso that he can keep up this trajectory insofar as his heal and fitness are concerned.

And that, of course, is the biggest caveat of all that needs to be taken with this statistical projection because there’s no guarantee that either player will be able to maintain this rate deeper into their thirties.

The active competition between the two would still be on-going for at least the best part of half a decade more, bearing in mind the passion that both share for the game which realistically consigns any thoughts of retirement to a more distant future for the both of them.

Credit: Football Tribe Malaysia