From Dark Side of the Moon to ageing rocker - Cristiano Ronaldo’s farewell tour

Will one of the greatest of all-time really hit the right note in Qatar?

Like the Beatles and Rolling Stones, the comparisons between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will go on long after they prepare to take a lead role on the world stage later this month.

With Kylian Mbappe and Neymar threatening to take over as the headline act, the tournament feels like one last chance to serve a timely reminder of the memorable moments both have created throughout two remarkable careers. Ronaldo, once the bright new thing, showing the swagger of Jagger, the belief of Bono and the mercurial showmanship of Mercury, began to hit the right notes on the greatest stages around the world soon after he joined Manchester United.

That free-kick against Portsmouth was his Dark Side of the Moon, his link-up with Wayne Rooney that inspired a Champions League Final win felt in-sync like Bowie and Mercury on Under Pressure, and inspiring Manchester United to a Premier League title win in his final season at Old Trafford was a parting gift like Abbey Road.

Hits continued to flow following a somewhat messy breakup with Jorge Mendes and Florentino Perez neatly sitting as Yoko Ono-like figures. An eagerness to really thrust himself into the conversation about the greatest of all-time led to moves to Real Madrid and Juventus, before the comeback gig many had wanted, but few had expected would actually occur.

Ronaldo’s return to his former stage at Old Trafford was something of a surprise. It felt as unlikely as Oasis reforming, it has played out like a tension-laden reunions of The Police. It felt like it would work and be something to remember, but it is not turning out as expected. In wanting to be the main man, Ronaldo is impacting negatively on the band’s performances. Far from topping the bill, he is now at risk of becoming a support act.

There have been moments when the right notes have been hit. His brace against Newcastle United that marked his return to Old Trafford, the hat-trick against Tottenham Hotspur and late heroics in the Champions League all acted as reminders of the truly great singles and albums that were commonplace throughout the early years of his career.

But, in reality, they were like an aging rocker surprisingly releasing a single that rockets up the charts, before the realisation that the album is full of underwhelming fillers, and fails to meet the critical acclaim that was once a given.

The World Cup, and indeed the remainder of the Premier League season, feel like one long farewell tour. The worldwide audience are hoping Ronaldo will bring out his old favourites. In reality, we are all expecting the frustrated frontman that will always be considered as one of the all-time greats, despite his current slide down the charts.

There may be moments to remember and reminders of the hits of days gone by, but hitting the right notes and getting a song out of a true great on a regular basis feels unlikely.