Will Haaland and Mbappe Revive the Rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid?

There was a time when football fans witnessed players like Zidane, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, who entertained and mesmerized everyone with their elegance. But when these guys were dominating world football, Messi and Ronaldo were just warming up and waiting for their opportunity to rise.
When Messi and Ronaldo burst onto the scene, no one was prepared for the revolution of football as these two would go on to build a rivalry we had never seen before. While Cristiano Ronaldo made his name at Manchester United, Lionel Messi gained his reputation under Ronaldinho’s mentorship. Messi would eventually replace Ronaldinho and go on to win multiple Champions League and Ballon d’Or.
However, Ronaldo’s transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid was the defining moment of their rivalry. ElClasico’s became fierce and highly entertaining after Ronaldo’s arrival. Both of them would push each other to rack up goals season after season. Award ceremonies would always have two similar figures as major favourites for over a decade.

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Now in their mid-30’s, Ronaldo and Messi have achieved every possible title in their career. To date, fans tend to argue over the G.O.A.T debate. Messi’s recent 7th Ballon d’Or win caused yet another debate as many consider Ronaldo’s 5 Champions League and 800 goals above Messi’s feats.

At the same time, we can see a drop in their levels. Despite a drop in form, Messi and Ronaldo are still able to produce sublime numbers at their age. But this season, we have witnessed the biggest dip in Messi’s form. Messi has registered just 1 goal in Ligue 1 in 12 appearances, but PSG is on course to yet another league title. On the other hand, Ronaldo has scored 8 goals in 18 appearances, but Manchester United is struggling for a top-4 finish this season.

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At the twilight of their careers, next season could prove to be the changing of the guard, with both Mbappe and Haaland taking centre stage. For the past six months, Kylian Mbappe has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, but after PSG rejected their multiple offers, it looks like Mbappe will sign for the Spanish giants as a free agent to turn his dream into reality.
But in Haaland’s case, the 21-year-old is yet to decide his preferred destination as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City fight for his signature. His agent, Mino Raiola, has a good relationship with Barca’s President, Joan Laporta, which would prove to be vital in this long race. Haaland’s priority of being the star of his new project makes Barcelona his perfect destination as in Madrid, and he will be sharing the limelight with Mbappe.
Barcelona is also in talks with new sponsorship deals to raise the revenue so that they go all out on Haaland in the summer. Laporta’s good connection with Raiola will be vital as Barcelona also want Mazraoui. As a result, Raiola won’t ask for huge bonuses. In the past few years, Barcelona has struggled miserably in the Champions League, but with Haaland at their disposal, the Catalans would regain their prestige in Europe.
Haaland and Mbappe have proved themselves in their respective leagues, but their exploits in Europe’s biggest competition makes them frightening. Both players thrive in the Champions League as if the pressure brings the best out of them. Haaland has 23 goals in 20 games in Champions League, whereas Mbappe has 31 goals and 27 assists in 53 games.

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Both youngsters have proved to be the future of football, and we can see another rivalry building up. In last year’s Champions League Round of 16, Kylian Mbappe netted 3 goals to dismantle Barcelona and the next day, Haaland scored 2 and provided one assist against Sevilla. Haaland told CBS Sports afterwards, “I saw Mbappe yesterday, and he scored some nice goals, so I got a free boost from him!”
This comment might be light-hearted, but Haaland getting spurred by Mbappe’s heroics has sparked hope that football’s next great rivalry has arrived. With Messi’s departure, ElClasico also lost its major viewership as the greatest game in club football. In the most recent ElClasico, Barcelona showed signs of improvement but was defeated in a 5-goal thriller.
The addition of Haaland and Mbappe to Barcelona and Real Madrid would spice things up in Spain once again. LaLiga would gain the most from their arrival as the Spanish league has lost its prominence to the Premier League. It was also rumoured that Florentino Perez wouldn’t come in between in Barcelona’s pursuit for Haaland to bring the old rivalry back.
Fans have always wondered whether we would be seeing anything like Messi and Ronaldo’s record-breaking era. It’s wrong to keep expectations from them to perform at Messi-Ronaldo’s standard, but the pair are looking perfect to dominate the game for years to come.

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