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Messi vs Ronaldo

Jonathan Clegg

For over fifteen years, almost any conversation about international soccer has always come back to two players—Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo—undoubtedly the greatest of their generation but with styles, attitudes, and fanbases that couldn’t be more different. For millions of people around the world “Messi or Ronaldo?” isn’t simply a barroom argument, or an affirmation of fandom, so much as a statement of philosophy, of values, of what global soccer is today and what it will be tomorrow.

Now, Wall Street Journal reporters Jonathan Clegg and Joshua Robinson unite the stories of Messi and Ronaldo into a single modern epic of global sports, detailing how one rivalry changed both the game and the business of international soccer—forever. Based on dozens of first-hand accounts and years of original reporting, Messi vs. Ronaldo weaves together the stakes, color, and characters at the heart of each man’s story, going inside the locker rooms and board rooms where their legends were forged and revealing off-field drama as gripping as anything happening on it. From their divergent origin stories, to their opposing career choices, to their conflicting reputations on the field and off it, these players have built their successes on opposite paths, yet each, in his own way, offers a riveting story of triumph and excess. Taken together, theirs is a story that embodies the astronomical growth of international soccer, how social media has revolutionized the power of sports celebrity, and how the desire to capitalize on the billions of dollars these players represent has cost some of the most storied clubs in Europe—Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Manchester United among them—almost everything.

With the 2022 World Cup almost certain to be the last for both of these figures, Messi vs. Ronaldo offers a deeply researched look at the legacy of these players and grapples with the impact that their talents have had on the game for better and worse. Much more than a retelling of the dual accomplishments of these great players, this is truly a biography of a rivalry, one that has become a crucial lens for understanding the past, present, and future of global soccer.


Jonathan Clegg is an editor for The Wall Street Journal, his work has also appeared in the Daily Telegraph, the Independent (U.K.), and FourFourTwo magazine. 


Category:  Sports
ISBN:  9780063157187
Publisher:  HarperCollins
On sale:  November 2023
Format:  Trade Paperback
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