Mbappe and Haaland replace Messi and Ronaldo as football's key stars after shock stats demonstrate changing of the guard

FOR the better part of 20 years the question has been: Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?

But now it's fair to say people should be asking: Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland?

Ronaldo, 36, and Messi, 33, have thrilled – and utterly divided – fans in their battle for the 'GOAT' crown since their rivalry began in the early-mid 00s.

They've won a combined 11 Ballons d'Or and more Big Five league titles and Champions League medals than you can shake a stick at.

However, if recent months are anything to go by, there's something of a changing of the guard.

Fortunately for football fans, it appears we're just getting started with a brand-new rivalry between two young, superstar strikers.

This week alone, Mbappe scored a hat-trick at the Nou Camp to inspire Paris Saint-Germain to a 4-1 win over Barcelona in their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie.

Messi had given the Spaniards the lead with a first-half penalty only for Mbappe, still only 22, to go on the rampage and all-but KO Barca – just like he did in the 2018 World Cup last-16, as France beat Argentina 4-3.

And then there's 20-year-old Haaland, who scored twice in an impressive 3-2 win away to Sevilla in their last-16 first-leg showdown.

All the while, Ronaldo's Juventus were downed 2-1 away to Porto with the Italian giants on the brink of another disastrously-early exit in Europe.


In Champions League football alone, the heirs to the throne have been thoroughly outperforming the elder statesmen in the last two seasons.

Since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, Messi has scored just seven goals, with Ronaldo not faring much better, with eight strikes.

While solid numbers, they're far from their jaw-dropping figures from yesteryear.

In the same timeframe, Mbappe has scored ten goals, while helping PSG to the final of last year's tournament.

Haaland, though, is in a league of his own.

The youngest of the four forwards has scored a simply sensational 18 GOALS – with ten in the entire 2019-20 tournament and eight already this term.

Dortmund were knocked out of last season's Champions League by PSG, despite Haaland's first-leg double.

It's not just in the goals department where Haaland and Mbappe have the edge over Messi and Ronaldo either.

Mbappe leads the way in terms of total assists in all competitions this season with nine, ahead of Messi, Haaland (both six) and Ronaldo (four).

The young duo also know when best to shoot, rather than peppering the goal at every opportunity.

Haaland has, by some margin, the best shot conversion percentage, scoring with 30.5 per cent of his efforts on goal, meaning he finds the back of the net with almost every three shots he takes.

Mbappe is a comfortable second with a 22.3 per cent conversion rate, ahead of Ronaldo (18.7 per cent).

Messi, meanwhile, is miles back with a worryingly low conversion rate of 11.9 per cent.

The Barca icon, though, still reigns supreme in passing accuracy and chances created.

BT Sport's punditry team were left purring at Mbappe and Haaland's performances after the last-16 first-leg clashes were done and dusted.

Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker even called it a 'changing of the guard'.

Ferdinand went on to claim Haaland and Mbappe's rivalry could 'go on for ten years'.

Worryingly for clubs across the planet, there's every chance they'll be playing together very soon.

Real Madrid are hoping to sign the pair in back-to-back summers, with £175million-rated Mbappe first to arrive this year.

Haaland is believed to have an agreement in his Dortmund contract allowing him to move to the Bernabeu for just £63m in 2022.

So, is this the beginning of a new rivalry or the start of a terrifying new 'Galacticos' era?

Source: Read Full Article