End of an era! Has Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the pecking order?


It seemed like only yesterday that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were face to face, battling for every bit of respect possible. There was not much between them as they kept breaking records year after year. At that time, it seemed that the day would never come when these two football giants would no longer be the main stars of the world. However, it looks like that fateful day has finally arrived. Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland – from the looks of it – seem to have taken over the mantle from the legendary duo.

Make no mistake that Ronaldo and Messi are still among the most respected names in world football. What he has achieved and his long life of success will never be forgotten. However, the time has come when these two players are not mentioned among the elite. For a while, many names were thrown into the pool to see who would be able to replace the dynamic duo at the helm of the Football League. Many potential talents came and went but the two that stayed were Mbappe and Haaland.

It is no surprise that the French-Norwegian pair are being touted as the next big thing in world football, especially when their achievements for their respective clubs and countries are taken into account. Embappé is only 23 years old, while Haaland is only 22, yet what they have achieved so far in their short careers is extraordinary. They have already scored 370 club goals between themselves. Many strikers will not reach their peak until they reach the age of 26 or 27. Nevertheless, both of these wonderkids are already exceeding expectations.

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Are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi the centerpieces of their respective clubs?

It is no better than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at their peak. In their heyday there was little to separate them and they could be compared to any player from any era and yet, these two came out on top. Moreover, his peak lasted so long, many did not imagine what the world would look like when he was no longer the main man of his team. But the time has come for them to take a back seat. Let us find out how important they are in their respective club’s setup:

Cristiano Ronaldo

Things are not going according to plan after Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream second spell at Manchester United. The Red Devils had the worst return on points in Premier League history last time around. United could only manage 58 points from 38 games – the lowest ever in the Premier League. Ronaldo was the only positive amid the manager change, dressing room leaks and poor on-field performances.

The Portuguese star kept delivering week after week. In the end, Ronaldo scored 24 goals in all competitions, including six in the Champions League. For the 37-year-old, those were incredible numbers. However, he was not helped by his teammates, as they let him and the team down on several occasions. In the end, Manchester United finished only sixth in the Premier League and were eliminated at the round-of-16 stage in the Champions League.

FILE PHOTO – Cristiano Ronaldo’s brace helps Manchester United win against Arsenal; Credits: Twitter/@cristiano

Sadly it got worse for Ronaldo. The current season is already turning into a nightmare for the Portuguese star. After reportedly failing to secure a move away from Old Trafford this summer, Ronaldo no longer seems to be the main man under new manager Erik ten Haag. Not only has he ceased to be the focal point of the team, but has also lost his place in the starting XI, which few expected at the start of the season.

Cristiano Ronaldo Matchbox target help
Overall club career 945 700 222
2021-22 season to date (Manchester United) 51 26 4

While Ronaldo scored plenty of goals last season, his lack of work rate without the ball was a regular topic of debate. Many believed that Ronaldo would struggle to play in a system that primarily relied on high pressing. Those suggestions have proved correct, at least so far in this campaign. Ten Haag clearly prefers Marcus Rashford, a young pacer, over a player in his late 30s. Sadly for Ronaldo, however, United are doing well in his absence in the starting XI. Ronaldo has made only two starts in the Premier League so far and on both occasions United failed to win. He has played only 340 minutes in the league so far. Overall, Ronaldo has only found the back of the net twice in 12 games.

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Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi’s time with Barcelona in the summer of 2021 has come to an abrupt and sad end. It was a day that many believed would never come. After coming through the Barcelona ranks, the Argentine was expected to retire at the Camp Nou. As luck would have it, Barcelona’s dire financial situation meant Messi had to leave Spain for France. He joined Paris Saint-Germain and was greeted with much fanfare.

Unfortunately though, Messi’s first season didn’t go according to script. He struggled for form both domestically and in Europe. PSG also failed to live up to the expectations. At the start of last season, much was said about a link-up between Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. However, the trio could not build any solid partnership on the pitch. Messi could only manage 11 goals in all competitions during the 2021-22 season.

champions league psg real madrid
Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe in a file photo. (Credit: [email protected],

Despite being labeled as Champions League favourites, PSG crashed out at the last-16 stage to eventual champions Real Madrid. Even though they won the Ligue 1 title, manager Mauricio Pochettino was relieved of his duties and Christophe Gaultier came on. Under his management, both the club and Messi are flourishing in the early stages of the season. The Argentine wizard already has nine goals and 10 assists in just 15 games in all competitions.

Lionel Messi Matchbox target help
Overall club career 827 692 328
2021-22 season to date (PSG) 49 20 25

However, the biggest problem is that Messi is no longer the main player in PSG. He has lost this status to Kylian Mbappe. The Frenchman was widely expected to leave for Real Madrid in the summer but PSG persuaded him to stay by offering him a lucrative contract which reportedly included a number of guarantees. This new deal has only strengthened Embappé’s position in the team, leaving Messi in unfamiliar territory. It’s strange to see a 35-year-old not the main man at a club, but it is what it is, and Messi must swallow a bitter pill.

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Kylian Mbappe is the golden boy of French football

What Kylian Mbappe has achieved at such a young age is something that few players can achieve in their entire career. The 23-year-old is already a World Cup winner. He played a key role in helping France win the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Embappé is already a mainstay of Paris Saint-Germain and is doing wonders at such a young age. He started playing football at a young age, so it is hard to believe that he is only 23 years old.

kilian mbappe Matchbox target help
Overall club career 297 217 108
2021-22 season to date (PSG) 61 53 28

He already has 217 goals at club level, an incredible figure for a 23-year-old. Embappé also has 28 goals at international level with France. Those goals also included a strike in the World Cup final against Croatia, making him the second teenager after Pelé to find the back of the net in a World Cup final. He was a target of Real Madrid earlier this summer, however, Mbappe has now committed his future to PSG.

Kylian Mbappe for Paris Saint-Germain;  Credits: Twitter/@KMbappe
In a file photo, Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain; Credits: Twitter/@KMbappe

He is in a team that has Lionel Messi and Neymar, yet Kylian Mbappe remains their main man. He scored a total of 39 goals and made 26 assists in 46 games in all competitions for PSG last season. Mbappe has shown the club why he should be their man for the future, even if it isn’t enough to lead them to Champions League glory. He has all the necessary skills to become a future star.

Erling Haaland’s time has come

Erling Haaland is the talk of the town in England. The Norwegian has eased into the Manchester City set-up this season and is scoring goals for fun. It’s only been three months since he moved to the Etihad Stadium and the 22-year-old has already found the net 22 times in just 15 appearances across all competitions this season. It has been an incredible start to life in arguably one of the toughest leagues in world football.

erling holland Matchbox target help
Overall club career 198 157 39
2021-22 season to date (Dortmund + Manchester City) 45 51 1 1

Many top professionals take time to settle in England after moving from other leagues. Haaland needed little time, however, as he rose to the top of the scoring charts. While the centre-forward may not offer much in the way of assists, he certainly makes up for it with his lethal finishing. Be it with his left foot, right foot or head, Haaland has been unstoppable in front of goal.

Kylian Mbappe was expected to break the dominance of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the Ballon d’Or awards. However, Haaland is already one of the frontrunners for the coveted award this season. There is a long way to go and anything can happen in the second half of the campaign. However, to think that Haaland is younger than Mbappe and is already outselling him shows just how talented the Norwegian is. One thing is certain – the time has come for Haaland and Mbappe to rule the football world.



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