Lionel Messi has been informed he has not broken Pele’s record of goals scored for a single club by a Santos spokesperson.
Messi earned himself an early Christmas present last week by netting his 644th goal for Barcelona in the victory over Real Valladolid.
In doing so, the Argentine superstar surpassed the 643 goals Pele scored during 19 seasons with Brazilian club Santos between 1956 and 1974.
At least, Messi thought he had.
But Santos have published a lengthy statement explaining why the six-time Ballon d’Or winner is a long way off matching, yet alone breaking, the achievement of three-time World Cup-winner Pele.
The statement was written by a member of the Association of Researchers and Historians of Santos FC and argues Pele’s tally of 448 goals in friendlies should not be discounted
“In the accounts of the specialized press, the King of Football scored 643 in competitions and the 448 goals scored in matches and friendly competitions were ostracized, as if they had less value than the others,” the statement read.
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“The argument of some analysts is that so many of these 448 goals scored in friendly matches were faced with weak opponents, such as small or regional teams.
“Even so, the matches were played in official uniforms, with the official rules of the game and with a score sheet.
“We have to remember that clubs could only play friendly matches with the endorsement of regional and national federations, one of the rules imposed by FIFA, the organizer of world football.
Do you side with Lionel Messi or Santos in the dispute? Have your say in the comments.
“Taking subjective attributes into account, such as the weakness of opponents, is not ideal for compiling statistical data. The numbers are absolute.”
Despite Santos’ claim, Pele took to social media to congratulate Messi after the 33-year-old matched his record-643 goals with a strike against Valencia earlier in December.
“When your heart overflows with love, it is difficult to change your path,” Pele wrote on Instagram.
“Like you, I know what it’s like to love wearing the same shirt every day. Like you, I know that there is nothing better than the place we feel at home.
“Congratulations on your historic record, Lionel. But above all, congratulations on your beautiful career at Barcelona.
“Stories like ours, of loving the same club for so long, unfortunately will be increasingly rare in football. I admire you very much.”
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