Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger has nailed his colours to the mast regarding the Messi/Ronaldo debate.
Wenger says that Lionel Messi was lucky to win the 2012 Ballon d’Or, and that if it were up to him, he would have given football’s highest individual award to someone like Iker Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo or Andres Iniesta, who had starred in title winning teams.
But Wenger also says he thinks that Messi is “from another planet”, and that Ronaldo was simply unlucky to be born in the same era as the little Argentine, “the best in the world.”
Asked if he would have picked Messi for the Ballon d’or, Wenger told the Arsenal website: "No, not this year.
"Messi is from a different planet. He's certainly the best player in the world, the best I've ever seen, but I believe that this year he has really been rewarded for what he did individually, rather than what he won for his team.
"For once he has not been in a team that won absolutely everything. He did not win the Champions League, he did not win the Spanish league and he didn't win anything with his country, but individually it's true he had an exceptional year, scoring 91 goals.
"I believe he has been rewarded for that, but for me I'm more a fan of collective sport, so I feel people like Iker Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo – who won the Spanish championship – and especially Andres Iniesta deserved it more. Iniesta is always number two or three, but he won the European Championship with Spain last year and he could have deserved it this year.”
Regarding the tussle for status as the world’s best, Wenger says he feels sorry for Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo, who despite his magnificence appears destined to see out his career in the shadow of La Pulga Atomica.
"You feel for Ronaldo because sometimes in life, you need to be lucky that a better guy than you wasn't born during the same time," Wenger said.
"You could say that the guy who arrives today behind Usain Bolt is still very quick, and still a fantastic athlete, and could beat everyone else in the world, but it's bad luck that he is around at the same time as Usain Bolt.
"It's the same now for Ronaldo, who is an absolutely fantastic player, but always seems to be just behind Messi in the awards. So I feel for them because I know what it means to them, at that level, to be known as the best in the world."