The Dutch legend spoke to France Football (h/t Sport) about the pair, and he suggested Ronaldo is too much of an individual talent, only focused on scoring goals:
Messi is a team player and the splendour of his play makes sense within the collective football of the team. However, the freedom of Ronaldo is in a reduced environment. His position on the pitch is that of a player that thinks that his way of helping the team is scoring goals. There’s a difference. Messi scores a lot as well, taking advantage of his qualities, but without losing sight of his team-mates.
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Cruyff’s allegiance to Barcelona could blight his view on the two primary superstars of world football, and it is no surprise the former coach speaks highly of Messi over Ronaldo.
At Real Madrid, Ronaldo has been the main focus of matters since his arrival from Manchester United, sitting on his Galactico throne as the club’s central icon.
On the other hand, Messi has passed through the ranks at the Blaugrana, and despite his status as a multiple Ballon d’Or winner, he is part of a triple threat in Barca’s attack, partnering Neymar and Luis Suarez.
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The MSN trinity led the club to an historic treble success last term, as Ronaldo and Madrid looked on in envy.
Former Barca president Joan Laporta recently compared Messi to Cruyff after the Argentinian won the website’s “Goal 50” best player of the year award, as reported by Alberto Pinero and Ben Hayward of Goal.com:
For me, with respect to all of the great players in history, Messi is the best of them all.
You really have to put things in their context and their historic moment. For me, my idol was always Johan Cruyff. For me he has always been the greatest, not just as a player but also as a person.
He has been a point of reference for me. It was his era, his moment – and he was the best in the world. For me, the best in history.
Leo, in his moment, is the best in the world and the best in history and the truth is that you have done justice by giving him this prize because he deserves it. He’s a player who deserves everything.
Ronaldo has continued to be a force for Madrid this season, as Messi has sat on the sideline with injury. The Los Blancos attacker has 16 goals in only 18 appearances in La Liga and the Champions League, according to WhoScored.com.
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However, Messi’s return in El Clasico showed the difference between Spain’s top two teams, and reflected the point Cruyff made about the influence of both players.
Messi has consistently proved he is mentally aligned with his team-mates as Barca have swept all before them, but Ronaldo’s individual displays—as amazing as they’ve been—are much more about his skill and brilliance, rather than team tactics and philosophy.
However, the bedrock of Madrid is to have Galactico talents control the destiny of the club, compared to Barcelona’s idea to play a set philosophy, focusing on all 11 players in the side.
Messi is the favourite to take the Ballon d’Or away from Ronaldo this year, as reported by the Independent’s Jack de Menezes. The winner will be announced on Jan. 11, 2016.