LOL, we literally have hard data showing that he had a substantially larger role in the team’s progression and build-up play in later years and that he simultaneously had a substantially smaller role as a recipient of passes in dangerous areas in later years. We also have eyes, so we all saw this. Obviously, the focus of his role changed in later years (largely due to the midfield deterioration), in a way that was materially less conducive to scoring (as demonstrated very clearly by being the receiver of substantially less net possession value than before) while simultaneously being more implicated in progression/build-up (as demonstrated by the stats conclusively showing he had a substantially larger role in the team’s progression and build-up). Try to save face as much as you want, but you’re wrong and that’s already been completely demonstrated. ____________________ Anyways, I have some interesting data on an unrelated issue: Specifically, I have looked into how these two players did in club matches against teams that had a higher elo rating than their team in the given season (as shown by http://elofootball.com/). I pulled stats on those games from Transfermarkt (so I’ll note that this uses wide rules assists) and, where available, got ratings for each match from WhoScored. I’ll list several different time periods for each, mostly because it’s not clear whether we should cut off the last few years where these guys have been old. Obviously, these guys haven’t actually played a ton of matches like this because their teams have often been so good, but we’re looking at samples of around 30 total matches for both. Messi against teams with higher elo rating from 2008-2009 through 2020-2021 Goals per game: 0.65 Assists per game: 0.29 Goal Contributions per Match: 0.94 Average WhoScored rating: 7.83 Messi against teams with higher elo rating from 2008-2009 through 2022-2023 Goals per game: 0.57 Assists per game: 0.24 Goal Contributions per Match: 0.81 Average WhoScored Rating: 7.65 Ronaldo against teams with higher elo rating from 2007-2008 through 2020-2021 Goals per game: 0.47 Assists per game: 0.07 Goal Contributions per Match: 0.53 Average WhoScored Rating: 7.22 Ronaldo against teams with higher elo rating from 2007-2008 through 2022-2023 Goals per game: 0.59 Assists per game: 0.07 Goal Contributions per Match: 0.66 Average WhoScored Rating: 7.17 We see that Messi has pretty clearly been the superior performer in club games against higher-elo teams. NOTE: WhoScored ratings don’t exist for all of these games, so the average WhoScored rating listed is just for the games we have (which is the vast majority of them). For reference, though, in the relevant games WhoScored doesn’t have data for, Messi has over twice the goals+assists per match that Ronaldo does. So it’s highly likely that the gap in their WhoScored ratings would be a good bit higher if we had ratings for all the relevant matches. NOTE 2: I should note that I think that looking at this does have inherent flaws. For instance, one flaw is that these guys are good enough that they end up boosting their team’s elo rating a lot, so there’s of course games that aren’t counted here but where their team is only better because of them. So it’s definitely not a perfect measure of exactly when a player was playing against a superior team. However, I provide this analysis because this has been alluded to before and I think the reality is a lot different than was theorized.