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Outfielder Dream Team: Players who played with both Messi and Ronaldo

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With Juventus and Barcelona completing a swap deal that sees Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo heading to Turin and Bosnian international Miralem Pjanic joining the Catalonian giants, the duo, upon their respective debuts, will join the exclusive list of players that have had the honour of playing alongside both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

So far, only a handful of players have shared the field with the Argentine superstar as well as the Portuguese goal-machine. While no goalkeeper has had the pleasure of being the same dressing room with both Ronaldo and Messi, several outfielders have been teammates with the duo and below we create a team of players that played with the two.

Centre-backs: Gerard Pique and Ezequiel Garay

Spanish centre-back Gerard Pique spent four years at Manchester United from 2004 to 2008 and won the Premier League as well as the Champions League with the English Giants. Pique and Ronaldo both scored for Manchester United in their 2-1 triumph over Roma at the Stadio Olympico in 2008 in the Champions League.

Following the 2007-08 season, Pique moved back to Spain to join his childhood club Barcelona, where he has since made over 400 appearances for the team and started the 2009 Champions League final where Barcelona beat his former side Manchester United 2-0 thanks to goals from Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi.

Ezequiel Garay joined Real Madrid in 2008 but was loaned back to Racing Santander for a season. The Argentine centre-back moved to the Spanish capital in 2009, the same year that Florentino Perez flexed the Los Blancos’ financial might, by signing Brazilian superstar Kaka from AC Milan, Karim Benzema from Lyon and Ronaldo from Manchester United.

Garay spent three years with Real Madrid before joining Benfica in 2011. Garay first played at the international stage with Messi in 2005 at the FIFA U20 World Cup. The centre-back was a part of the Argentina side that went all the way to the final at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Right-back: Nelson Semedo

Portuguese full-back Nelson Semedo has shared the field with Ronaldo with the national team on many occasions and has been a regular in the Barcelona matchday squad since his move to the Camp Nou in 2017.

Left-back: Gabriel Heinze

Argentine left-back Gabriel Heinze joined Manchester United in 2004 from Paris Saint-Germain, a year after Ronaldo joined the club, and played for the 20-time English champions for three seasons. Heinze featured regularly for Manchester United during his stint at the club, before moving to Real Madrid in 2007.

Heinze has 72 caps for the Argentina national team and was part of Diego Maradona’s 2010 Argentina team that was beaten 4-0 in the quarterfinal by Germany.

Midfielders: Deco and Andre Gomes 

Portuguese midfielder Deco was an integral part of the Barcelona side that won the 2006 Champions League title, beating Arsenal in the final. Deco moved to Catalonia from Porto after their unlikely Champions League triumph in 2004 with Jose Mourinho at the helm and was one of the first names, alongside Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi, on Frank Rijkaard’s teamsheet at Barcelona.

While he is a Brazilian by birth, Deco was never called up to the national side and after spending six years in Portugal and meeting FIFA eligibility criteria to represent a country a player isn’t born in, the diminutive midfielder decided to represent his adopted nation on the international stage. Deco, like Ronaldo, was a starter in the Portuguese side that reached the final of the 2004 Euro on home soil but were beaten by Greece. Deco played with Ronaldo at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, 2008 Euros in Austria and Switzerland as well as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Everton midfielder Andre Gomes moved to Barcelona from Valencia in 2016 but could cement a starting spot in the side that was spoilt for choices in midfield. The Portuguese midfielder has made 29 appearances for Portugal since his debut for the national team in 2014.

Right-winger: Paulo Dybala

Talented Argentine forward Paulo Dybala drew comparisons with Messi owing to his playing style at a young age and his stock has continued to rise ever since.

Dybala joined Juventus in 2015 and has been a mainstay in the squad that has won four Serie A titles on the trot since his arrival. Dybala forged a partnership with Ronaldo after the Portuguese superstar moved to Turin from Real Madrid in the summer of 2018.

The Argentine forward has played 29 times for his country but is yet to replicate his incredible performance at club-level for La Albiceleste.

Left-winger: Angel Di Maria

One of the best wingers of his generation, Angel Di Maria joined Real Madrid from Benfica in 2010. The talented winger spent four years at the Bernabeu and won the Champions League in 2014 where he was named the Man of the Match in Real Madrid’s 4-1 victory over cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid in the final.

Di Maria has over 100 caps for Argentina and has played in each of the past three FIFA World Cups for La Albiceleste alongside Lionel Messi.

Centre-forwards: Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain

Prolific striker Gonzalo Higuain has been teammates with Cristiano Ronaldo at two clubs. The duo were teammates at Real Madrid from 2009 to 2013, before Higuain moved to Napoli. After three outstanding seasons in Naples, Higuain moved to Juventus and led them to Champions League final where his team was beaten 4-1 by Real Madrid, with Ronaldo scoring twice. A year later, Ronaldo moved to Turin and after being loaned out to AC Milan and Chelsea during the 2018-19 season, Higuain returned to Juventus and has been an important member of the team this season.

Higuain has often been chastised for his misses in high-profile matches, especially the 2014 FIFA World Cup final and the 2016 Copa America. Nevertheless, the striker has 75 caps for the Argentina national team and played at all international tournaments since 2010 alongside Lionel Messi.

Controversial striker Carlos Tevez two trophy-laden years at Manchester United from 2007 to 2009. Tevez won two Premier League titles, one League Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup and the 2008 Champions League title with the English giants. Tevez formed a deadly trio alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and left the club after United’s defeat in the 2009 Champions League final at the hands of Barcelona to join Manchester City.

The versatile forward made his debut for the Argentina national team in 2004 and has featured 76 times since. Tevez played alongside Messi at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup as well as 2007, 2011 and 2015 Copa America.

Feature images courtesy: AFP / Andrew Yates / Gianluigi Guercia / Pedro Trindade / Miguel Medina

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