Ryan Giggs can't split Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo in GOAT debate
Wales manager Ryan Giggs shared a dressing room with Cristiano Ronaldo in his career, but the Manchester United legend has said he can't pick between the Portugal international and Barcelona's Lionel Messi as the greatest of all time.
Both players have the chance to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals this week. Giggs acknowledged Juventus star Ronaldo has dazzled in different European leagues but told Goal's Ernest Makhaya Messi's record makes it hard to divide the pair:
"Him (Messi) and Cristiano Ronaldo are probably on par, it just depends who you think is the best. Obviously, Ronaldo has won something internationally, his played in Portugal, England, Spain and now Italy. That is the difference between him and Messi.
"Then you look at Messi and he is doing things that no other player has done. He is scoring goals, making goals and they have both won so much in their career. So, there's not much between them."
Ronaldo's Juve trail Atletico Madrid by two goals ahead of their round-of-16 second leg in Turin on Tuesday. Failure to beat Los Rojiblancos would see him miss the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2010.
The Portuguese, 34, has scored 21 goals in 35 appearances for the Bianconeri after he left Real Madrid last summer, but only one of those strikes has come in European competition.
It was only last season that Ronaldo helped knock Juve out of the competition's quarter-finals. Another of his former United team-mates, Rio Ferdinand, gushed over Ronaldo's match-winning ability following a 3-0 first-leg win in Turin in April 2018, via BT Sport (UK only):
Giggs played alongside Ronaldo for all of the six years he spent at Old Trafford (2003-09). His firsthand experiences with Messi, meanwhile, were limited to a handful of Champions League encounters against the Argentinian, namely the lost finals of 2009 and 2011.
The Wales chief recounted the quality of the 2011 Barca team that deservedly defeated United 3-1 at Wembley Stadium, but he remarked upon Messi, 31, as a unique force:
"I don't think you can plan to play against Messi. What we tried to do was stop the ball from getting to Messi. So, if we could stop the ball from getting to Messi, then he couldn't hurt us. But of course, it is very difficult.
"In that game, he had a free role where he could go wherever on the pitch, and you have Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta on the pitch, you have to stop them as well, that's the problem that we had. They had a great team, but to stop Messi is very difficult."
The South American returned to Wembley earlier this season and scored twice as the Blaugrana beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 in this season's group stage. Ferdinand and BT Sport host Gary Lineker commented on Messi as the most complete player since his compatriot, Diego Maradona, reigned supreme:
Giggs highlighted Ronaldo as "the best professional" he's played with—owing to his meticulous diet and training regimen—but even their United connection can't convince the Welshman to pick him over Messi.