What are the best versions of CR7 and Messi?

Physiocrat

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This came up with Ronaldo in Sjor's recent match and has been discussed with Messi in other threads. My understanding is that there are three versions of CR7 and four for Messi -

Ronaldo - Utd winger, early Madrid wide forward, late Madrid/ Juve striker
Messi - right forward, false 9 Messi, early playmaker MSN version, lazy older playmaker

Are these categories accurate and which versions do you think are best?
 

harms

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Messi:
  1. False 9
  2. treble-winning right wing playmaker (personally my favourite one though)
  3. younger right wing version
  4. the current one
Cristiano:
  1. 2010-2013. At his physical peak, scoring unreal amount of goals while still maintaining a fair bit of flair
  2. 2006-2009. More of a dribbler and slightly less consistent in terms of his goalscoring (but probably the most entertaining version out of those)
  3. 2014-2018. All-out goalscorer who spends most of the time up front and hardly ever dribbles. Special thanks for Ancelotti who had adjusted their system to fit his strengths (Di Maria as a false winger and an unleashed Marcelo)
  4. His Juve self — past his physical best, although we've already seen 2 versions, a more free-roaming and creative one at the beginning and now, again, more of a clear-cut number 9 under Sarri
 

Theon

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Agree with @harms almost word for word but would probably have the current version of Messi ahead of the pre-Pep right-wing version. It’s hard to imagine the false #9 version of Messi ever being bettered by anybody.

For Ronaldo my favourite version was the late-United era, but he definitely took his game up a level at Madrid in terms of sheer match-winning impact. It’s interesting the bulk of his Ballon d’Or’s came when he was a lot more narrowly focused and probably past his best as an overall footballer (though saying that, I think the mental side of his game continued to improve).
 

luke511

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Whilst 20 year old Messi didn't excel as much with his passing and scoring as his later versions, this was probably when he was the best at dribbling. All these 4 clips came when he was 20 years old where he broke records for successful dribbles.

 

The Cat

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Messi:
  1. False 9
  2. treble-winning right wing playmaker (personally my favourite one though)
  3. younger right wing version
  4. the current one
Cristiano:
  1. 2010-2013. At his physical peak, scoring unreal amount of goals while still maintaining a fair bit of flair
  2. 2006-2009. More of a dribbler and slightly less consistent in terms of his goalscoring (but probably the most entertaining version out of those)
  3. 2014-2018. All-out goalscorer who spends most of the time up front and hardly ever dribbles. Special thanks for Ancelotti who had adjusted their system to fit his strengths (Di Maria as a false winger and an unleashed Marcelo)
  4. His Juve self — past his physical best, although we've already seen 2 versions, a more free-roaming and creative one at the beginning and now, again, more of a clear-cut number 9 under Sarri
Have to say I agree with all of that very good post.
 

Raees

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The United Ronaldo was my favourite.. his influence on the momentum of matches is underrated.. could turn defence into attack in an instant.
 

Invictus

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Cristiano Ronaldo

1. Zidane and Ancelotti version: a landmark player in the sense that his predatory movement and self-confidence and decision-making attributes were maxed out.
2. United 2006/07 and Madrid 2009/10: best all-round entertainment value, full of tricks and flicks and flexibility...with ascending production/incisiveness.
3. United 2007/08: more robotic than in 2006/07 or his first year at Madrid.
4. Mourinho version: even more robotic than United 2007/08 and seemed unsure of himself, machine-like production but rapacious and overwrought.
5. Juventus version: planetary nebula stage of an aging star, pretty soon he will run out of fuel to burn at the elite level.
6. Early United version: clearly very talented but frustrating as all hell, rich man's Nani.


Lionel Messi

1. Early 2000s version: another landmark players in football history, in full resonance with Xaviesta and probably the greatest ever forward avatar alongside peak Santos Pelé.
2. Enrique version: the most broad-ranging version of Messi, GOAT caliber creator and finisher in one package while still possessing a spring in his step.
3. Late 2000s version: on the ascent but not a GOAT level scorer or a consummate playmaker yet.
4. Old chap Messi: approximating a conventional playmaker of yore, a genius of passing but a bit lacking in pizzazz in the general passage of games to be honest.
5. Mid 2000s version: rough around the edges but super explosive and vivacious and exciting — and more consistent than Ronaldo at a comparable age.
 

Synco

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Ronaldo is a bit of a tricky case for me.

On purely individual skill & athleticism, his early Madrid self was certainly his peak. But when it comes to GOATiness, I was never 100% convinced of him during that time. (Although I must admit that I mostly watched him in big games & tournaments, much less for the day-to-day stuff.)

Imo, this Ronaldo had a tendency to bite off more than he could chew in terms of being the undisputed game decider, and at worst that fixation could even be detrimental to his team. (This obsession was of course also the source of his greatness when things worked out.) But for my taste, the brilliant stuff he did was too often intermingled with ineffective dribblings, strange decisions, needless turnovers, erratic shots, etc. In games where he got the balance right he was proper all-time great caliber, of course.

But I felt that when he grew older and lost pace, his team orientation improved somewhat, and he tended to play simpler. Which takes something away from him individually, but also allows for more team synergy in other situations. Even his big game scoring went up a notch as a result. So overall I'm not sure how much of a loss him concentrating on close-to-the-box stuff and scoring was for Real & Portugal as teams.
 
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