The Ronaldo–Messi rivalry is a football rivalry between fans of Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentinian forward Lionel Messi and supposedly between the athletes themselves. Having won a combined ten Ballon d'Or/FIFA Ballon d'Or awards (5 each), both are widely regarded not only as the two best players of their generation, but also, by many in the sport, including players, writers and fans, as the greatest of all time. They are two of the most decorated football players ever, having won a combined 63 trophies (Ronaldo 29, Messi 34) during their careers thus far, and have regularly broken the 50 goal barrier in a single season. They are amongst the 28 players in the history of the sport to score over 500 career goals, currently ranked at 6th (Ronaldo) and 7th (Messi) respectively, with both having scored over 690 goals each in their careers for club and country.Sports journalists and pundits regularly argue the individual merits of both players in an attempt to establish who they believe is the best player in modern football. It has been compared to past global sports rivalries such as the Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier rivalry in boxing, the Roger Federer–Rafael Nadal rivalry and the Björn Borg–John McEnroe rivalry in tennis, and the Ayrton Senna–Alain Prost rivalry in Formula One motor racing.
Some commentators choose to analyse the differing physiques and playing styles of the two, while part of the debate revolves around the contrasting personalities of the two players: Ronaldo is sometimes described as someone of temperamental character while Messi is portrayed as having a more reserved character.
At club level, Messi and Ronaldo have represented rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. The two players faced each other at least twice every season in the world's most popular regular-season club game, El Clásico (among the most viewed annual sporting events), from Ronaldo's arrival at Real in 2009 until his transfer to Italian club Juventus F.C. in 2018. Off the field, they are also the face of two rival sportswear manufacturers, Messi of Adidas and Ronaldo of Nike, which are also the kit suppliers of their national teams and the opposite for their clubs. The two highest paid players in football, Messi and Ronaldo are among the world's best paid sports' stars in combined income from salaries, bonuses and off-field earnings. In 2018, Messi edged Ronaldo on Forbes' list of best-paid athletes, earning $111 million, with Ronaldo next at $108 million.They have the two largest social media followings in the world among sportspeople with a combined 211 million Facebook fans in 2019, Ronaldo having 122 million and Messi 89 million. As well as a combined 288 million followers on Instagram as of 2019, Ronaldo is the most followed individual on the entire service, with over 168 million followers whilst Messi has 120 million followers.