Gary Neville gives his verdict on where Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are in their careers

Manchester United legend Gary Neville believes Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are now two “declining forces”.

The legendary duo who have pushed and improved one and other over the last 15 years, due to their personal rivalry, have redefined football through their unrivalled level of consistency and mind-blowing rate of scoring goals.

But there is no denying the global icons are entering the twilight stages of their careers. Such is the standards they have set, any drop off in performance levels sees them become an open target for criticism either by the mainstream media, pundits or former players.

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

But with Ronaldo and Messi now being 37- and 34-years-old, respectively, their reign at the top of the football mountain looks to be coming to an end.

Messi was unable to inspire a Paris Saint Germain side that crashed out of the Champions League last night to Real Madrid.

Ronaldo, who will be hoping to propel the Reds to victory against Atletico Madrid, is playing in a Manchester United side that could miss out on the Champions League altogether next season.

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville feels that we are now seeing the changing of the guard and that arguably the two greatest players of all-time are begrudgingly handing over the baton to the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.

Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

“We may see cameos or little swansongs here and there, but there is no doubt that Ronaldo and Messi are coming to the end of their careers,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“That’s not to say they are coming to the end of their careers and will retire at the end of the season; Ronaldo and Messi could play three or four more years, knowing their fitness.

“Declining seems like the wrong word when talking about two great players, but there is no doubt they are declining forces.

“At this moment in time, for the first time in years, if you asked people which player in the world they would sign if I could only pick one, no one would say Messi or Ronaldo, they would likely say Mbappe, Erling Haaland, Mohamed Salah, Robert Lewandowski.

“You would be naming players other than Ronaldo and Messi, and that is the clearest sign that, while these two are still operating at the highest level, they are fading from the levels they were at before. They are no longer the best players in the world.”

Ronaldo is currently facing a race to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday’s pivotal clash against Tottenham after missing the Manchester derby massacre due to an ongoing hip flexor problem.

United’s number seven was out on grass at Carrington yesterday, but he was doing individual drills.

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Passionate Football fan that completed a NCTJ-accredited Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism in 2016.