Who is really the goat Messi or Ronaldo?
The intense rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has captivated football experts and even young students, sparking endless discussions about who deserves the title of the greatest player in modern times, or perhaps in the entire history of the sport ,These two forwards are almost on par when it comes to goals scored, Ballon d'Or and Golden Shoe awards. Nevertheless, according to Dr. Ian Graham, the departing research director at Liverpool FC, a deeper analysis of the data reveals a definitive winner.
The Undisputed Champion: Messi Outshines Ronaldo in Football's GOAT Debate
During his appearance at the Cheltenham Science Festival, Graham confidently stated, "It's Messi." The Argentine and Portuguese strikers are the only individuals in football history to surpass the 800-goal milestone. They have also amassed a staggering 76 major trophies combined, with each having a valid claim to the coveted title of the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) ,The debate surrounding their superiority spanned the nine seasons they spent as rivals at Barcelona and Real Madrid, reaching its pinnacle during the previous year's World Cup. However, Graham explained that when sophisticated models were employed to evaluate their overall contributions to their respective teams' success, Messi, who recently declared his move to Major League Soccer's Inter Miami, emerged as the clear victor.
Messi's Dual Mastery and the Evolution of Football Data Analysis
"The distinction lies in the fact that Messi is not only a world-class striker but also an exceptional attacking midfielder," Graham emphasized. "The opportunities he creates for his teammates are significantly greater than Ronaldo's. Messi excels at two roles, while Ronaldo excels at one. That's the fundamental difference."Graham, who completed his PhD in theoretical physics at Cambridge prior to joining Anfield, described his involvement in a football data revolution that has transpired over the past decade. In the mid-2000s, analysts had access to only rudimentary data, such as goals, shots, corners, and yellow cards. However, Liverpool's current tracking system captures intricate skeletal movement data throughout Champions League matches, enabling them to assess the value each player brings, even when they are not in possession of the ball ,"We obtain 29 x-y-z positions for each player at a rate of 25 frames per second," Graham elaborated. "Each position represents one of the player's joints, and two of those positions correspond to the eyes, providing insight into their visual orientation."
Data-Driven Player Recruitment Maximizing Value for Money in Football
Consequently, analysts now wield considerable influence in shaping training methods and player recruitment, with a focus on maximizing value for money. Graham explained, "Any statistical model would indicate that Kylian Mbappé is currently the best player in Europe. Unfortunately, from a financial standpoint, he is beyond Liverpool's reach. We are seeking players who deliver exceptional performance relative to their cost" ,However, these models are not infallible and occasionally suggest players who belong to what Graham amusingly referred to as an "island of misfit toys" category. These players may possess extraordinary talent and come at a low price, but they may be unsuitable due to peculiar playing styles or other factors.
Impact on Player Contracts and the Intricacies of Football Analytics
He's 29 years old, and acquiring him would entail a substantial transfer fee for three years of performance that could potentially decline, Graham reasoned ,He further remarked, "From a data perspective, it's truly remarkable how Alex Ferguson constructed a team that aged just as he departed from Manchester United. It undeniably solidified his legacy" ,Despite footballers typically lacking an inherent curiosity about data, Graham observed a growing interest among players. "If you can demonstrate that you are making a tangible impact through data, it could prove useful during contract negotiations," he noted. "Even if you are not inherently interested, the potential for increased earnings would capture your attentio" , Kevin De Bruyne, the Belgian midfielder playing for Manchester City, recently secured a 30% pay raise after collaborating with a data analytics company to renegotiate his contract ,Graham acknowledged that data-driven insights are not always well-received, recalling how he earned the moniker "the most cynical man in football" after pointing out, shortly after arriving at Anfield, that a 20% chance of scoring in the box could be transformed into a 75% success rate by winning a penalty.