Brazil legend Pele had a message for Lionel Messi after the Barcelona captain equaled his scoring record on Saturday against Valencia.
The Argentina international netted his 643rd goal for the Catalan giants in a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou in La Liga to match the Brazilian legend’s all-time scoring record for one club.
Pele took to Instagram after the match to send his congratulations to the Barcelona captain for matching his landmark with a post on Instagram.
Messi’s goal was an unusually scruffy effort from the 33-year-old. The Argentine saw a penalty saved by goalkeeper Jaume Doménech but managed to bundle the ball home moments later after a cross by Jordi Alba.
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Rare Praise From Pele
Pele has been critical of Messi in the past and famously accused the Barcelona star of only having “one skill” back in 2018. The Brazilian spoke to Folha de Sao Paulo about the Argentina international, as reported by the Mirror.
How can you make a comparison between a guy who heads the ball well, shoots with the left, shoots with the right and another who only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn’t head the ball well? How can you compare? To compare with Pele, it has to be someone who shoots well with the left, shoots well with the right and scores headers.
Messi has of course won everything possible with Barcelona and claimed the Ballon d’Or, awarded to the world’s best player, for a record sixth time in December 2019.
Pele was also asked about Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo earlier in 2020 and insisted neither player could match his own exploits, as reported by Goal.
That’s a tough question to answer. I’ve been asked many times. We mustn’t forget Zico and Ronaldinho. People always talk about European players like [Franz] Beckenbauer and [Johan] Cruyff. It’s not my fault, but I think I was better than all of them. There will only be one Pele. There won’t be anyone else like me.
Messi’s goal against Valencia means he needs just one more to move past Pele and claim the record as his own.
Messi Equals Record on Bad Day for Barcelona
The Barcelona captain’s goal came on a bad day for Barcelona. Messi’s strike made it 1-1 to Barcelona after Mouctar Diakhaby had opened the scoring for the visitors. Ronald Araujo then fired the hosts ahead with a fine scissor kick, but Valencia secured a point with an equalizer from Maxi Gomez.
Coach Ronald Koeman insisted after the game his team can still win the league title despite slipping eight points behind leaders Atletico Madrid who have also played one game less, as reported by Sport.
There are still a lot of games to go. It’s still not (lost). It’s complicated for all teams with the schedule. There are teams at the top that in two months could be at the bottom. The calendar is really tight for everyone and even more for the teams playing in Europe. The distance (to the top) is quite big but we have to fight hard and give our all to make up the points.
Saturday’s draw means Barca have won just six of 13 La Liga games in 2020-21, hardly title-winning form, and will need a big improvement if they are to challenge Atletico and Real Madrid for top spot.