The debate over who is the greatest soccer player of all time continues, and now artificial intelligence has weighed in by ranking four true legends of the game.
It’s a football argument that has never been resolved, but now artificial intelligence has given it a good go.
Lionel Messi won a record eighth Ballon d’Or crown this year, 12 months after he inspired Argentina to World Cup victory in Qatar. However, many are in the Cristiano Ronaldo 'GOAT’ camp, the Real Madrid icon who continues to score goals for club and country.
And nostalgics will lean towards the likes of three-time World Cup winner Pele and another Argentine legend in Diego Maradona. All four players can lay claim to lighting up the big stage during their careers, and now technology has done its best to rank them.
4. Diego Maradona
Few can deny that Diego Maradona is classed as one of the four greatest players of all time, although the residents of Naples may question how there are three ahead of him.
He is remembered by AI for his „exceptional dribbling skills, vision and 'hand of God’ goal”. Indeed he was, and fittingly he was one of the greatest individual goals scored at the World Cup following Peter Shilton.
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That 1986 tournament, in which he eventually led Argentina to victory, ultimately defined his career. And his work at Napoli, which lifted him to two Serie A titles and a UEFA Cup, earned him god-like status forever.
He won World Cups with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970 – but Pele’s career was about much more than statistics.
Long before strict player diets and relentless exercise programs, Pele combined athleticism with an abundance of talent and vision. He spent his entire career with Santos before ending up with the New York Cosmos, but it is his displays at the international level for which he is best remembered.
Cynics argued that his apparent goalscoring record was questionable. But one thing is for sure, regardless of the actual number of goals – he scored a serious amount of them.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Soccer fans don’t need AI to tell them that Ronaldo is blessed with „athleticism, goalscoring prowess and versatility.”
At 38, the current marker of 739 club career goals will continue to rise, albeit with Al-Nasser in Saudi Arabia. He also holds the record for international football scoring 128 times for Portugal.
His trophy record with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus is also notable, with five Champions League and several league titles to his name. It’s infuriating to see his relentless desire to be the best ranked second on this list.
1. Lionel Messi
He won eight Ballon d’Or crowns by accident. To say that Lionel Messi is known for „his incredible dribbling, vision and goal-scoring ability” might be selling him short. His goalscoring record may not match that of Ronaldo, but there is no doubt who is more magical.
Forever a club legend at Barcelona, many thought his career was over when he lifted the Jules Rimet trophy in Qatar. Currently tearing it up on a level with Inter Miami and, in fact, looks well below him.
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