Ronaldo and Messi are the reason for the decline in English centre-forwards

England’s struggles to provide competition for Harry Kane have been blamed on football’s GOATS – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

That’s according to former Three Lions star Les Ferdinand, who pointed out the pair’s influence on the next generation of strikers.

Messi and Ronaldo have scored almost a combined 1700 career goals

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Messi and Ronaldo have scored almost a combined 1700 career goalsCredit: Rex

Kane has been an ever-present figure in England’s attack since his 2015 international debut.

In recent years Gareth Southgate has tried and failed with a number of different options to find the Bayern Munich superstar either a partner or an able deputy in his absence.

Aston Villa hitman Ollie Watkins became the latest to fail the audition having struggled in England’s 1-0 defeat to Brazil on Saturday.

Watkins played his first full 90 minutes at Wembley but failed to find the net and managed just a single shot in a difficult display.

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In contrast, England are spoilt for choice in wide areas and Ferdinand believes this is a trickle-down effect from watching two of the best.

Both Ronaldo and Messi debuted as teenagers on the right wing before the sheer volume of their goal output forced them inside.

Ferdinand was Queens Park Rangers’ former director of football and has seen young English talent attempt to follow the same evolution.

The former Tottenham forward found the opposite problem in his heyday, amassing just 17 caps for England across five years.

The only other striker to debut under Southgate was Leeds' Patrick Bamford (1,0)

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The only other striker to debut under Southgate was Leeds’ Patrick Bamford (1,0)

Ferdinand was called up to both Euro 96 and the World Cup in 1998 but failed to play a single minute due to the depth of striker talent.

The 57-year-old was part of an all-star 90s line-up alongside Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Teddy Sheringham, Ian Wright, Robbie Fowler, Andy Cole, Stan Collymore, Chris Sutton, and Dion Dublin.

While appearing on the Overlap podcast with Gary Neville, Ferdinand shed light on why England doesn’t have close to the same depth.

When asked what has happened to the English centre-forward, he replied: “Ronaldo and Messi.

Gerard Pique reveals that Lionel Messi didn’t care about Cristiano Ronaldo, but CR7 still made a key change because of his rival
Ferdinand found England chances hard to come by even at his peak

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Ferdinand found England chances hard to come by even at his peakCredit: getty

“We went through a period of wingers who were scoring goals, scoring 30 goals a season and everyone wanted to be Ronaldo, and everyone wanted to be Messi.

“The players no longer wanted to be a traditional centre-forward, didn’t want to be a number nine.

“[Thierry] Henry comes onto the scene, they wanna be that person that comes off the wing and scores goals.

“They were scoring an abundance of goals, so every young player wanted to be that player hence was the demise of the number nine.”

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