The Worlds Best – Messi vs Rooney

An Englishman has never been crowned FIFA’s World Player Of The Year, Beckham managed second in 1999 and 2001, as did Lampard in 2005 (Peter Beagrie was cruelly overlooked in 1998). That may not be the case for much longer. After almost every Manchester United or England game this season Rooney has at some point been hailed as the best in the world. Pundits are falling over themselves to lavish him with praise and with good reason. 33 goals and counting he has struck fear into opposing players and managers alike. It should be a no brainier, except of course football is also currently blessed with one of the finest talents ever to play the game, Lionel Messi. Messi betters Rooney’s goal tally by one and is the inspiration behind the breathtaking football played at Barcelona. He is reigning World Player Of The Year and is expected to retain his crown. Can Rooney steal his thunder?With so much important football yet to be played it is probably too early to say, but I am going to attempt the difficult task of picking who I would have in my team for the seasons run-in.
In many departments it is hard to set them apart, both players finishing is of the highest standard, as their goals this season suggest. Both are exceptionally quick, Messi probably being faster over short bursts with Rooney possessing greater sustained pace. Both contribute vastly to the way their team plays. Rooney defends from the front, chasing every lost cause, always fighting for possession. He also has a great eye for a pass and is as much provider as goalscorer. While Messi cannot match Rooneys tenacity his understanding and awareness of his teammates is second to none. What Rooney accomplishes by winning the ball back Messi accomplishes by not loosing it in the first place.
In other areas I have less trouble setting them apart. Rooney is clearly the more powerful player. It is a key feature of his game and I’m sure the cause of many centre backs sleepless nights. Messi has however proved the most competent on the big game stage, with the exception of his below-par international performances he nearly always excels on the biggest stage. Despite his modest height Messi is not to be underestimated in the air, as we saw in last years Champions League final yet it is not a major feature of his game. On the other hand Rooney’s aerial prowess has become one of his key assets and without doubt the biggest improvement in his game. Rooney’s first touch is sublime and  he has the ability to manipulate a football with effortless precision. Although it has not been a major part of his game this season he has shown in the past that he can run past players with ease. Messi wins this one though. I cannot recall seeing another player with suck quick feet. Defenders rarely get a sniff of the ball, which is never more than a few inches from his toe.
Who would I pick? My heart says Rooney but my head says Messi. I admire the spirit and fight in Rooney’s game, I love his ability to fuel the passion in supporters but everybody loves a dribbler. It is for me the most entertaining part of football and Messi is a master. I expect if he were English I would not be having this debate in the first place. Rooney may yet become one of the best ever but Messi can become the best their ever was.


About haighsimpson

25 year old journalism student at leeds metropolitan university View all posts by haighsimpson

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