On Tuesday, during Barcelona’s 3-0 win against Real Valladolid, Lionel Messi scored his 644th goal for the Catalan club, surpassing Pele’s long-standing goal-scoring record for a single club. The Argentine master had equalled the Brazilian legend’s record of 643 goals for Santos last week. He has now reached the summit.
How long did Pele’s record stand?
Pele scored 643 goals for Brazilian club Santos between 1956 and 1974 in 757 matches. So his record stood for 46 years.
How many matches did it take for Messi?
Over 17 seasons — from 2004 to the ongoing 2020-21 — and across 749 club games, Messi has scored 644 goals. He scored his first goal for Barcelona in 2005.
Who came closest to Pele before Messi?
German legend Gerd Muller scored 565 goals for Bayern Munich in a club career that spanned 15 seasons.
Did Messi revel in the company of Xavi and Iniesta?
Stats suggest so. Between 2009-10 and 2014-15, in 321 matches, Messi scored 332 goals. It was a period when Barcelona had been redefining the art of playing football, with Andres Iniesta and Xavi at its heart and Messi as the team’s talisman. However, after Luis Suarez joined Barcelona in 2014, the Uruguayan became Messi’s top service provider with 47 assists, as per La Liga stats.
What was Messi’s most productive season?
2011-12, when he scored a staggering 73 goals. Pele’s most productive season for Santos was 1957-58, when he had netted 66 times.
His left foot
Stats from multiple sources confirm that Messi used his left foot 531 times on his way to the record.
How did Pele react to Messi’s feat?
“Like you, I know what it’s like to love wearing the same shirt every day. Like you, I know what it’s like to love wearing the same shirt every day,” Pele wrote on Instagram after Messi had equalled his record on Saturday.
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How did Messi react?
“When I started playing football, I never thought I would break a record. Even less so the one I achieved today which Pele held,” Messi posted on Instagram.
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How has the world reacted?
“Lionel Messi has scored his 644th goal for @FCBarcelona. He’s beaten @Pele’s record of most goals scored at a single club. This is a record that no one thought would ever be beaten. It will never be beaten again,” England great Gary Lineker posted on Twitter.
Who wins the head-to-head?
Sport doesn’t allow us to compare the greats. Pele was predominantly a centre-forward, while Messi mostly operated from the right-wing. Messi has won 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns, and the Ballon d’Or six times.
At the international level, Pele scored 77 goals in 92 appearances for Brazil. Messi so far has scored 71 goals in 142 appearances for Argentina. But Pele has won the game’s ultimate prize, the World Cup, three times. The achievement remains a void in the glorious career of Messi, who came close six years ago when Argentina finished runners-up at the 2014 World Cup.
Has Messi taken more pressure than Pele?
Pele plied his trade in Brazilian club football, a bit under the radar. It was a different era before the media boom. Social media didn’t exist.
Messi has been in full public glare for close to two decades now. He has been playing for one of the game’s biggest clubs in cut-throat European football. As regards to international football, Argentina, unlike Brazil during Pele’s time, don’t have an excess of riches. Pele played alongside the likes of Garrincha, Vava, Didi, Rivelino, Jairzinho and Tostao. Then again, amid a constellation of stars, Pele shone the brightest.
Messi was the jewel in the crown of a great Barcelona team. But his idol Diego Maradona almost single handedly took Argentina to the 1986 World Cup triumph.