Senior Pol Berger-Romeu was playing basketball with his friends when he heard about Lionel Messi signing with Paris-Saint Germain (PSG).

 “As a Barcelona fan, it was a tough pill to swallow,” Berger-Romeu said.

Messi, a renowned soccer player, played for FC Barcelona in 21 concurrent years where he signed with PSG after having salary negotiation issues in the Spanish league. PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino quickly negotiated a contract with the 35-time trophy winner which entails $82 million for two years.

“Although Messi wanted to stay at Barcelona, I feel that a switch at this point of his career is a good thing,” said Berger-Romeu. Senior Abhi Ankaraju said he agreed with Berger-Romeu.

Senior Abhi Ankaraju does a header during a game for the Indiana Fire. Ankaraju said he tries to emulate Ronaldo’s play style when he plays. He said, “I love performing headers mid-game. They make me feel like Ronaldo.” (Abhi Ankaraju Submitted Photo)

“I think the whole situation was a mess but then best came out of it,” he said.

Ankaraju, who plays for Indiana Fire, said he faced a huge legacy for players like him.

“I feel like all soccer players imitate some styles from Messi no matter the position they play. I, on the other hand, mirror my game after Cristiano Ronaldo,” Ankaraju said. Ronaldo, a soccer player who now plays for Manchester United, built a legacy for fellow soccer players like Ankaraju to follow.

Winning 32 trophies in many soccer leagues, Ronaldo has set the bar high for people to surpass him. In 2003, he played for the soccer club Sporting CP. Recognizing his talents, Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson transferred Ronaldo to Manchester United for 12 million euros. Ronaldo would go on to play well and reinvent the game. In 2009, he left Manchester United for Real Madrid in pursuit of a bigger contract and switched teams again in 2018 to Juventus. The homecoming of Ronaldo to Manchester United on Aug. 27 shocked the world.

Ankaraju said he took a liking towards Ronaldo, calling him the “G.O.A.T. of soccer”. His position is a forward, just like Ronaldo. Abhi said he mimics Ronaldo in a way to better his playstyle.

“I love performing headers mid-game. They make me feel like I am Ronaldo,” Ankaraju said. Ronaldo is famous for his “air-soaring” headers and has won many games due to the high flying ability he has.

Shane Schmidt has been varsity soccer coach at this school for over 14 years and he has seen a couple changes in his playbook due to the rise of Ronaldo.

“I can’t seem to stray away from the basics in teaching my kids how to play soccer. That’s one aspect I like of Ronaldo. I wouldn’t say that I teach exactly what Ronaldo does on the field, but in some aspects I can see some paths cross,” Schmidt said. As an admirer of Ronaldo’s success, varsity head coach Shane Schmidt expressed he felt good about the return of Ronaldo to Manchester United. 

Senior Pol Berger Romeu dribbles a soccer ball during a game. Berger Romeu said that although Messi’s departure from FC Barcelona was hard to process, he believes it was a good move for his career. (Pol Berger Romeu Submitted Photo)

“Arguably has had the greatest soccer career any player has ever seen, he broke the international scoring record and 5-time world player of the year,” Schmidt said. “To see him make it back and play at such a high level is amazing.”

“I’d definitely want Messi on my team but it’s sometimes a pain in the butt because of their superstar status,” Schmidt said. “Having someone so good on your team wouldn’t contribute much to the team aspect of the sport.”

Currently, Ronaldo debuted with his team on Sept. 11 against Newcastle, where he scored two goals. He will be playing against another formidable player, Danny Ings on Saturday. Many Manchester United fans wanted to recruit Ings over Ronaldo due to the age and the tolerance Ings has over Ronaldo. Nevertheless, the matchup against the two, who have similar playstyles, will be one fans said they are excited to see. 

Romeu said that age is seen as a degrading factor for the value of not only soccer players but all other sports as well.

“Comparing the two players isn’t that hard,” Berger-Romeu said. “I can’t seem to understand why people would put the debate up about Ronaldo or Messi,” he said. “The two have severely different playing styles and cannot be compared. It’s like comparing an apple to a grape.”

Newcomers in many soccer leagues have been up to play against soccer kings like Messi or Ronaldo, but Schmidt said he believes the title will be held for decades to come.

“You can never say never, who would’ve ever thought that someone would’ve ever beaten the last international scoring record. It would definitely be hard in the near future for new players to be as efficient as Ronaldo.”

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