Lionel Messi ranks ahead of Ronaldo in 21st century top 100 players

Lionel Messi ranks ahead of Ronaldo in 21st century top 100 players

- Lionel Messi has been ranked the best player of the 21st century in Independent's recent rating

- The Argentine forward was at the top of the list, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi and Ronaldinho not far behind

- Andrew Iniesta, Ronaldo de Lima and Thiery Henry were also rated highly by the media outfit

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Lionel Messi has beaten off stiff competition from great names in football - including Xavi, Ronaldinho and his fierce rival Cristiano Ronaldo - to be named the best player of the 21st century.

Messi came out top of the pile in the Independent's ranking, which was based on point assessment and the position of the top 100 players across Europe's top five leagues.

The Argentine 'hitman', who many consider the greatest player to ever grace the age of the sport, reached the landmark in what finally settled the debate that has always pitched him against other greats.

Cristiano Ronaldo came second on the list while former Barcelona duo Xavi Hernandez and Ronaldinho came 3rd and 4th respectively.

Capping the top 10 are Andres Iniesta (5th), Ronaldo de Lima (6th), Thierry Henry (7th), Zinedine Zidane (8th), Kaka (9th) and Italian World Cup-winning defender Fabio Cannavaro (10th).

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In the second phase of the ranking, Andrea Pirlo, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Buffon, Philipp Lahm, Luis Figo, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Steven Gerrard, Andrei Shevchenko and Neymar all occupied the list from 11 to 20.

The list also saw the likes of Carles Puyol, Frank Lampard, Luka Modric, Samuel Eto'o, Wayne Rooney, Raul Gonzalez, Manuel Neuer, Paolo Maldini and Dani Alves and Arjen Robben dominate the third phase.

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