KEY POINTS

  • Lionel Messi competes not only against Cristiano Ronaldo for soccer's GOAT
  • Ronaldinho thinks Messi isn't the GOAT
  • NBA legend halied Messi greatest player in history

Cristiano Ronaldo might not be the only player Lionel Messi is competing against in the "greatest of all time" debate.

Earlier this month, Messi copped his sixth Ballon d’Or trophy. The Barcelona star has once again proven that he is indeed one of the greatest soccer players of all time. And while most soccer fans would only argue about Messi being the GOAT together with his nemesis Ronaldo, his former teammate and Brazilian legend Ronaldinho thinks the debate doesn’t end with just the two.

In an interview with Marca, Ronaldinho said that he is “happy Messi won” this year’s Ballon d’Or award. However, he admitted that he finds it “difficult to say” that Messi is the best player in history.

“I'm glad Messi won the Ballon d'Or. We were also friends during our time at Barcelona. But I don't like to compare, and I find it difficult to say he is the best of all time,” Ronaldinho said.

Surprisingly, Ronaldinho didn’t mention “CR7” as the reason why Messi isn’t the GOAT. Instead, he emphasized that the Argentine has to decisively surpass his fellow Brazilians Pele and Ronaldo, as well as another Argentine legend, Diego Maradona.

“There were [Diego] Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo. It's hard to say that Messi is the best throughout the history of football,” Ronaldinho emphasized.

Lionel Messi scored on his 700th appearance for Barcelona on Wednesday in a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund. Lionel Messi Photo: AFP / Josep LAGO

But even without making a comparison to some of the best soccer players today, Ronaldinho stated that Messi is the best player of his era. “I can say he is the best of his era,” Ronaldinho stated.

Ronaldinho himself won the  Ballon d'Or in 2005. He also played with Messi for four years at the Nou Camp but has been officially retired since last year.

About a week ago, another former soccer player joined the GOAT debate. NBA legend and Mallorca part owner Steve Nash was at Barcelona to interview Antoine Griezmann when he said that he is thrilled for what Mallorca could become as a club and as a team.

According to Nash, Mallorca could grow as a team having the opportunity to play with Messi, whom he referred to as the “greatest player” to ever play the game.

“We’re very proud and honored to play against one of the great clubs in the history of the sport, against the greatest player to ever play the game so I think it’s a great opportunity for our club and our team to experience football at this level and continue to grow,” Nash said.

Ronaldinho Ronaldinho, now with Atletico Mineiro, is delighted to be back in the Brazil squad. Photo: Reuters