These two eternal rivals have been shortlisted for this year’s award, but which has outshone the other over the last 12 months?
GOAL50 is back, and once again we’re giving you, the GOAL readers, the chance to decide the best male and female players on the planet, as well as pay tribute to some special legends in our World Cup Wonders category.
Last year, over 23 million votes were cast to decide the victors, and once again we’re calling on our readers to decide who finishes top of the pile in each category.
There are a possible 2,450 match-ups in each section, and the players with the most victories will be crowned the GOAL50 winners for 2022.
As was the case for last year’s GOAL50, the showdown between eternal rivals Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom have made this year’s men’s shortlist, is one of the most hotly anticipated head-to-head battles.
The duo have established themselves as two of the greatest players in the game’s history during their illustrious careers, and while they may both be past their prime, they’ve demonstrated over the last year that they still deserve to be considered among the world’s best.
Last year, Messi won the GOAL50 to draw level with Ronaldo, with the pair each having won the prestigious award on five occasions.
Will either of them be contenders again this time around?
Messi’s maiden season in France wasn’t plain sailing, but he still ended the year as a French champion at Paris Saint-Germain, having played a key role in their title success under Mauricio Pochettino.
Messi registered 14 assists in the league—second only to Kylian Mbappe—and he’s enjoyed a breathtaking start to the 22-23 campaign, having had a hand in 17 goals in his first 12 league outings of the season.
Now 35, Messi isn’t quite the same player as he was during his Barcelona pomp, but he’s still expected to be one of the stars of the upcoming World Cup, where the generational superstar will be desperate to get his hands on the grandest prize in the game.
This may well be Messi’s last chance to emulate Diego Maradona and inspire Argentina to the title, and who could bet against the veteran enjoying one last dance in Qatar?
Ronaldo’s heading to the World Cup after a much trickier start to the season, having been in and out of a transitional Manchester United team under Erik ten Hag.
Nonetheless, he defied the critics last season by ending the campaign with 18 Premier League goals—only two players scored more—rolling back the years to prove that he can still do it in English football.
His devastating two-goal display in Portugal’s 4-0 hammering of Switzerland in June’s Nations League game was perhaps a sign of what’s to come from Ronaldo in Qatar, and at 37, he—like Messi—surely knows it’s his last chance to secure a historic international triumph.
Even in their mid-30s, these two living legends can still settle matches and dominate headlines, but which of the pair enjoyed a better 2022? That’s for you to decide…
Voting is open from November 15 until December 18. It couldn’t be easier, so get voting!
Remember, it’s not our list, it’s yours.