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Cristiano Ronaldo, Portuguese footballer
Having played at the highest level in the best leagues around the world gives Cristiano Ronaldo a major boost over his rivals. Photo: Getty Images.

Messi, Cristiano, Pelé or Maradona? Who is the best footballer in history?

Oxford University professor Tom Crawford believes he has solved one of football's never-ending debates.

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Through the "G.O.A.T. index" (an acronym in English for the Greatest Of All Time), a professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, Tom Crawford, studied the numbers of those considered the best footballers in history, and arrived at a conclusion that will be the subject of controversy for many.

Using a data model of his own design, Crawford conducted a comparative study of the top 10 players of all time, which uses seven categories to try to measure the unique greatness of each star objectively (subject to discussion, of course).

The categories used by the math teacher include club trophies, international trophies, club goals, international goals, Ballon d'Ors, records, and seasons with the “Z” factor (outstanding campaigns in numbers). The algorithm awards points through multiple factors that take into account the level of difficulty of each achievement. For example, to qualify for the select list, it was required to have won at least two trophies as the world’s best player of the season.

The question of who is the best is asked by soccer fans almost daily, a competition that fans of these superstars hope can continue for many years to come. Today, two have started a new season at two new clubs, Messi at PSG, and Cristiano back at Old Trafford for Mamchester United, teams where they will continue to build their legend and ignite the fight to be the best in history. According to the Crawford model, these are the top 10 soccer players in history:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (100)

2. Lionel Messi (94)

3. Pelé (85)

4. Ferenc Puskas (57)

5. Ronaldo Nazario (52)

6. Marco Van Basten (44)

7. Alfredo Di Stefano (37)

8. Michel Platini (33)

9. Diego Maradona (31)

10. Johan Cruyff (30)

Knowing the debate will continue, Crawford's list has Cristiano at the top after taking mathematics to the world of soccer and highlighting the numbers exposed by each legendary player.

Since two on the list still have a lot to offer the world of football and will continue to break many records, the order could change by the time their playing days are done.

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