If you ask Cristiano Ronaldo who’s the best player in the world, you know what’s going to be his answer. Himself. And when you try and look at the whole Ronaldo – Messi, Barcelona – Real thing objectively, there’s no reason he shouldn’t feel that way.

After all, what does Messi have that he doesn’t? La Liga titles? Check. Champions League title? Check. Pichichi? Check. Ronaldo will always be the less popular of the two among those with a neutral stance because of who he is, how he behaves on the pitch and what he says off of it, but that doesn’t make him any less of a player.

In that matter, Ronaldo and Mourinho are peas in a pod, who found together through some divine intervention. It took the two a while to topple Barcelona’s rule at the top of the La Liga table; They’re still working on winning the Champions League. But all good/bad things come to an end, and as things usually go in Spain, this is Real Madrid’s turn to rule for a couple of seasons or moe.

If anyone expected anything different from Ronaldo when he was interviewing for CNN, well, then, open your eyes. This is the same player who said he should have won 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Ballon d’Or voting four years ago. This is the same player who points to his thigh and muscles when he scores a goal from long range. Great players are rarely the same in their personalty and in the way they accept defeat and victory. Ronaldo, in both, is usually less than gracious.

We did the Without Ronaldo and Messi game a few days ago. Real Madrid would still be one of the top two teams in Spain without Ronaldo. Barcelona without Messi? Not so much. But that doesn’t make him better than Ronaldo. Just more important to Barcelona, this season. We can go a different way with the national teams, both underachieving during their regime. Argentina will always be considered a world power and World Cup contenders, even without Messi.

In Portugal, despite Ronaldo’s erratic form for the national team, no one has any delusions of grandeur about how far this team can go without him. They haven’t made it very far with him, except for the 2004 Euro, hosting the tournament, falling in the final; But Ronaldo wasn’t as dominant then, nor was he in the 2006 World Cup. Right now, Ronaldo is the only thing that makes it imaginable for Portugal to come out of the Germany-Netherlands-Denmark group in once piece.

There’s something about Ronaldo that makes me think of LeBron James. It’s a different sport and a different league. It’s harder to win an NBA title than a league title in Spain or England when you’re playing for one of the big clubs. But James, isolated from the whole surrounding of his team and teammates, is usually the popular choice for Best player in the world.

Ronaldo might not be the perfect teammate, but again, while isolating all the factors regarding relationships and cooperation with other players on and off the pitch, Ronaldo should be the choice, OVER Messi, for best player in the world.

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