FIFA 23 marked a perfect opportunity to pass Messi and Ronaldo’s torch onto the next generation of players, yet EA decided to still award the legendary pair based on namesake rather than past season performances.
EA announced FIFA 23’s top 23 player ratings on September 12. Karim Benzema rightfully leaped from 13th to the joint highest-rated player after smashing home 44 goals and leading Real Madrid to a Champions League and La Liga title.
Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe, Kevin De Bruyne, and Messi round out FIFA 23’s top five overalls. Ronaldo falls to eighth behind Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk.
Both aging superstars still deserve high FIFA ratings, but their on-field performances no longer align with the rising talent around them. Messi’s 91 and Ronaldo’s 90 overall ratings are blatant cases of EA not correctly accounting for a new wave of football stars waiting in the wings.
Messi’s first PSG season doesn’t go as planned
Coming off a 30-goal, 11-assist tally in his final season with FC Barcelona, Messi was controversially named the 2021 Ballon d’Or winner over Robert Lewandowski.
Messi left his boyhood club to form what looked like an unstoppable attacking trio with Neymar and Mbappe at PSG. Unfortunately, the Argentinian’s goal-scoring dissipated in Paris, only finding the back of the net six times in 26 appearances.
Still managing to make an impact, Messi finished with 14 assists, but he looked a step off his usual pace. PSG won Ligue 1, but the Parisian giants flamed out in the Champions League Round of 16 to eventual winners Real Madrid.
Ronaldo’s age starts to show in Manchester United down year
Just as Messi did in 2020-21, Ronaldo flourished in his final season at Juventus. The Portuguese goal poacher led Serie A with 29 goals. Juventus, however, failed to capture a Scudetto, marking the end of his three-year stint in Turin.
Ronaldo decided to reunite with Manchester United after spending six seasons as a Red Devil earlier in his career. The ever-reliable striker netted 18 goals, finishing third in the Premier League Golden Boot race behind Mohamed Salah and Son-Heung Min.
Manchester United lost in the Champions League Round of 16 to Athletico Madrid and finished sixth in the Premier League. Ronaldo has not won a Ballon d’Or award since 2017, and his age and lack of mobility began to show in Manchester.
The next generation of football excellence
Benzema, Lewandowski, Mbappe, Kevin De Bruyne, and Messi all share a 91 overall in FIFA 23. Do you see the glaring issue with these rankings?
We already discussed Benzema’s earth-shattering 2021 season. Lewandowski scored 35 goals in 34 matches in his final season with Bayern Munich, Mbappe had 45 goal contributions, and De Bruyne was influential in Manchester City’s Premier League title win.
On his best day, Messi still stands toe-to-toe with any of the world’s best players, but he does not belong in the same tier as the previously mentioned players after what they accomplished last season.
The same can be said of Ronaldo. He scored 18 goals this past season, but he shares a 90 overall with Salah and one overall higher than Sadio Mane and Harry Kane. Son and Salah each scored a league-high 23 goals, and Salah also led the Premier League with 13 assists.
Messi and Ronaldo don’t deserve to have their ratings plummet just based on one weak season, but EA could have done a better job elevating the players around them who deserve to be a tier above.