Cristiano and Lionel: A Tale of Two Cities

This past transfer window in European football saw two of the game’s greatest players of all time move to different cities and countries. Lionel Messi, our lord and savior, signed a contract with Paris St. Germain in the French Ligue 1 after an absolutely shocking bit of business from Barcelona. Cristiano Ronaldo, his highness, was transferred from Juventus in Italy’s Serie A to English Premier League giant Manchester United, where his career first began to ascend into superstardom (I guess now he has reached divine status). And while both signings were jaw-dropping fairytales for the media, only one of the legends has performed at the superhuman standard that the two have set over the past fifteen years. That man: Cristiano Ronaldo.

Since returning to Old Trafford, Ronaldo has not missed a beat, scoring four goals in his first three matches with the club in all competitions. The king of goals has looked lethal in front of goal and will try to keep Manchester United in the title race for the Premier League and contending in European competition as well (despite their blunder against BSC Young Boys in the UCL). Now all they need is to bring back Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes, and the treble is theirs. But in all seriousness, this really could be a glorious era for United if his form continues. 

On the other hand, Lionel Messi has not exactly been himself early on in France. In three matches in all competitions, Messi has failed to score or register an assist. Not to mention, he had a bit of a run-in with manager Mauricio Pochettino on the sideline after being subbed off early against Lyon and now it has been revealed that he suffered a knee injury in the match. And while you may say, “Come on, it’s only been three matches and he’s in a new country,” you have to realize what people expected when he entered the Paris team. He’s playing in a league that is heralded as a “farmer’s league” across Europe. He’s playing alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. He’s “La Pulga.” Perhaps the greatest footballer to ever step foot on a pitch. So while he may just be experiencing growing pains for the first time in his life (besides the growth hormones of course), his start in France is a bit alarming. 

However, with so many games left in this early Ligue 1 season, I fully expect the magic man to get back to his brilliant best and lead PSG to glory in France and beyond. When he, Neymar and Mbappe begin to play the beautiful game together, this PSG squad will be absolutely phenomenal. I just hope that it happens soon because while the French league may be a cakewalk even without Messi, the Champions League has haunted the Parisians for years. Another painful exit in the competition may spell the end of each member of the dynamic trio’s stay in the French capital.