Is Cristiano Ronaldo the best player in the world?
“Cristiano Ronaldo is not only the best player in the world…but probably the single most gifted player to play in England since the Belfast Boy….What a *so and so* player. I am in awe…”
So just how good is Ronaldo? On current form, he must surely be the world’s best.
He’s always had the skill, talent, and particularly in the aftermath of that wink, the attitude to excel. Over the past season and a half however, he’s maximised these attributes to become more indispensable than any other player.
The statistics are staggering. His 25 goals in all competitions last season led him to an unprecedented clean sweep of England’s three major individual honours. This term he’s scored 22 in all competitions, with 16 coming in the league. And remember, he’s a winger and it’s still January.
Comparatively, it gets scarier. He’s already scored as many Premier League goals (51) as Steven Gerrard and is fast catching the league’s highest scoring midfielders Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes (95). His team mates took a combined 737 games to reach their totals. Ronaldo has almost averaged a goal every other game in his 112.
But the best since Belfast Boy George Best?
There’s still a bit to go. Question marks remain over a failure to yet light up the latter stages of the Champions League as Kaka did last season or indeed Best 39 years earlier. Despite performing well in major tournaments for Portugal, he was found wanting in both their Euro 2004 final and World Cup 2006 semi-final exits.
But you just get the feeling all that could change in the coming months. With United on course to crack the Champions League again and Euro 2008 on the horizon, he is on the verge of reaching the kind of heights last scaled by Zinedine Zidane 10 years ago.
First he must celebrate a birthday in February. His 23rd. That is perhaps the most frightening statistic of all.
Click here to read an envy-filled tribute to Ronaldo by Mitch Phillips, but please leave your comments about the Manchester United maestro below.
Padraic Halpin, London
PHOTO: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his third goal in Manchester United’s 6-0 win over Newcastle United in the Premier League, Jan 12 REUTERS/Phil Noble