The Blues head coach has weighed in on the debate over who stands out as the greatest player of the modern era
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has picked his favourite player between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, while also naming a dream team of his former opponents.
Messi and Ronaldo have battled for supremacy at the very highest level for well over a decade, with their rivalry considered to be among the greatest in the history of football.
The former has spent his entire professional career at Barcelona, scoring 636 goals in 737 appearances while getting his hands on ten La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, enjoyed hugely successful spells at Manchester United and Real Madrid after beginning his career at Sporting CP, before taking up a new challenge in Serie A with Juventus in 2018.
The Portuguese has scored 641 goals in 852 outings over the course of his career, winning league titles in three different countries and conquering the Champions League on five occasions, with a European Championship triumph also on his CV at international level.
However, Messi has won six-Ballon d’Or awards to Ronaldo’s five, and is generally considered to be the more gifted player in terms of his ball control and overall influence in the final third of the pitch.
Lampard is among those to share that opinion, but he is still in awe of what a man who is still delivering the goods at the age of 35 has been able to accomplish.
Asked to choose between Messi and Ronaldo during a Q&A session for Hyundai, the 42-year-old head coach said: “I’m gonna go Messi on this on pure, natural talent but what Ronaldo has done has been absolutely incredible.”
Lampard named two players who used to play alongside Messi when pressed on the toughest players he ever came up against at Chelsea, having faced Barcelona on several occasions at the height of his career.
“The two that I name when I say against is Xavi and Iniesta at Barcelona. They were great players, they were kind of not the biggest and quite slight,” he said. “It just shows it doesn’t matter, because sometimes people think you have to be huge to be a footballer player. You don’t.”
Lampard didn’t include Xavi or Iniesta in his dream team of former opponents though, with two of his ex-England team-mates making the final cut along with another Barcelona legend, Bayern Munich’s current No 1 and Real Madrid’s World Cup-winning manager.
“It’s [Manuel] Neuer, Rio (Ferdinand), Steven Gerrard, [Zinedine] Zidane, Ronaldinho, Messi and Ronaldo,” the Chelsea head coach said.