The main question football fans and pundits were debating last season after the Champions League Round of 16 matches is this – has the Erling Haaland vs Kylian Mbappe debate now surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi in terms of relevancy?
Mbappe scored a sensational hat-trick against Messi’s Barcelona in the first leg back in February to leave Paris Saint-Germain with one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals. The following night, Haaland netted a brace to inspire Borussia Dortmund to a 3-2 victory over Sevilla.
Ronaldo’s Juventus, meanwhile, suffered a 2-1 defeat away at Porto and both Juve and Barça were eliminated from the competition after the second legs.
Haaland was the top scorer in last season’s Champions League with 10 goals, followed by Mbappe (8).
For many, this truly felt like the beginning of a new era.
BT Sport did an entire program based on how Haaland and Mbappe are the new future of football with the new superstar duo poised to dominate the world – and this sparked an immediate reaction from Ronaldo, according to T he Independent.
The report claims the ‘riled’ Ronaldo sent a WhatsApp message to BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand before he was even off the air with the message blunt and crystal clear – “It’s not over”.
Even if you are not a fan of the man’s, you’ve at least got to admire Ronaldo’s relentless desire to be the best and for people to recognize him as the greatest, even as he approaches his late-30s.
Messi, on the other hand, ‘wasn’t riled by such superficialities’. He was far more angry by the way Barcelona crumbled against PSG.
‘Ronaldo joined Man Utd because Messi signed for PSG’, the rumors had also been flying around recently.
The report also claims that one figure who has worked with Ronaldo says the Portuguese forward’s decision to leave Juventus was “100 per cent” influenced by Messi joining PSG.
The Independent’s Miguel Delaney writes: “The Portuguese was already greatly regretting his transfer to Serie A, and felt the Italian club were a long way from challenging for the Champions League.
“His great rival putting himself in prime position to win it again, as well as another Ballon d’Or, clarified Ronaldo’s thinking.”
Again, one is forced to respect Ronaldo’s elite (egoistic?) mentality.
Fearing that Messi’s move to PSG would enhance his great rival’s chances of winning silverware – including the coveted Ballon d’Or award for a record-breaking seventh time – Ronaldo knew only too well he had to escape the clutches of Turin.
Despite interest from Man City, he completed a dream return to Old Trafford and now has his sights set on transforming the Red Devils into champions of England and Europe as quickly as possible.
Ambition driven by ego will either rocket you to the stars or send you on a destruction path.