Pele vs Maradona, Cruyff vs Beckenbauer, Ronaldo Nazario vs Zidane, each era in football has one era-defining debate associated with it.
For the present generation of football fans, the Messi vs Ronaldo debate is the mother of all debates. Both these players have made the world of football their own in the last 12-15 years. This period saw the normalization of scoring 50 goals a season, breaking records every other matchday, countless individual accolades, and above all moments of pure footballing geniuses. If someone were to say that Messi and Ronaldo have spoiled football in a nice way for us, it would be a tedious task to point out a flaw in their statement. In this era, the achievements of many players have been overshadowed by the brilliance of the above-mentioned athletes, which can’t be helped. Luis Suarez, Sergio Aguero, and Andres Iniesta to name a few. They were all outstanding players but didn't have the stats that were recorded by Messi and Ronaldo.
Now that both of them are potentially at the end of their careers, fans are still hesitant to move on to the next big debate. They fail to realize that in doing so, the legacy of the 2 players will not be tarnished in any way. Rather, it will be the beginning of a process that makes us appreciative of players of the future and the past. This hesitancy will no doubt harm the legacies of 2 players namely, Mohamed Salah of Liverpool and Egypt and Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich and Poland. These 2 players have now dominated the biggest stages of football for quite a few years. Both have been producing eye-watering numbers consistently for their respective teams. We will now see how and why these 2 are the best players in the world, at the moment.
The left-footed Egyptian has become a trendsetter in the Premier League ever since he joined his current club- Liverpool in 2017. His arrival marked the beginning of a new era of wide players wherein, they became goal scorers instead of conventional wingers. His first season saw him break the Premier League record for most goals scored in a season, with 32 goals to his name. In the following seasons, he has taken his game to different levels, breaking numerous records along the way. It’s not just the goals he scores, he has also been assisting his teammates on numerous occasions. As a result, he has almost a goal or assists in every game that he has played for Liverpool.
Salah has also been the star player for his national side, scoring 45 goals in 71 appearances for Egypt. He scored a last-minute penalty in an all-important qualification match for the 2018 World Cup which enabled Egypt to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1990.
His stats have earned him the plaudits of many football fans but there is also an element in his game that often goes under the radar. His defensive work rate on the pitch is one of the best for a forward. This makes him a perfect fit for the current Liverpool side which relies on high-intensity pressing and swift counter-attacks. His exploits against Manchester City sealed his reputation as a big-game player and also as one of the best players in the world.
The Polish striker was already one of the best in the Bundesliga during his time at Borussia Dortmund. But, it was a move to German giants Bayern Munich that turned him into a goal-scoring machine. He has cemented his reputation as one of the best strikers in the world and possibly the best at the moment. He became an integral part of a very successful era at Bayern Munich, winning the treble in the 2019-20 season. He even became the first person to do so whilst being the sole top scorer in all the 3 competitions ie. the Champions League, Bundesliga, and the DFB Pokal. He is the 3rd fastest to score 50 Champions League goals and also jointly holds the record for most away goals in a Champions League campaign, with Cristiano Ronaldo.
He also broke Gerd Mueller's long-standing record of 40 goals in a Bundesliga season after netting 41 goals in the 2020-21 season. He has been scoring consistently for his national side and helped them to qualify for all major tournaments in the last 5 years. Lewandowski has over 500 career goals and is certainly one of the best players of his generation.
It must be noted that it is after recording better stats in terms of goals and assists added to their match-winning performances, Messi and Ronaldo were regarded as the best players. Salah and Lewandowski have been winning games for their respective teams left, right, and center. Yes, they don't have the stats of a Messi or a Ronaldo but as it has been mentioned earlier, the 2 players have spoiled football for us in a nice way. As for Salah and Lewandowski, they must be recognized for their achievements as the 2 best players in the world at the moment.
Image credits: goal.com
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