Lionel Messi has won five Ballons d'Or, the same number of NBA MVPs won by Michael Jordan. / FCB

While it’s tempting to try and compare Lionel Messi and Michael Jordan, it's no easy task.

There are lots of parallels that can be drawn between the two. When they were young they were both thought to be too small before undergoing surprising growth spurts in late adolescence. Their propensity for dominating the highlight reels has also been mentioned. Their in-game intensity, daily work ethic, and global ubiquity are a few more examples.

Now there's one more.

After Messi won his jaw-dropping fifth Ballon d’Or award on Monday, there were immediate calls to equate that feat with the five NBA MVP Awards that Jordan won with the Chicago Bulls throughout his illustrious career.

But while Jordan's five MVPs are tied for second all-time in the NBA with Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics, one ahead of Wilt Chaimberlain and the still-active LeBron James, and one behind the six won by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Messi's five Ballons d'Or are the most ever. And Messi has some breathing room, too.

In fact, in the history of football, only four other players have even won as many as three — Cristiano Ronaldo (2008, 2013 and 2014), Marco van Basten (1988, 1989 and 1992), Michel Platini (1983, 1984 and 1985), and Johan Cruyff (1971, 1973, 1974).

The only question is, if Messi wins a sixth, who will they begin comparing him to then?

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