History made: Lionel Messi on the brink of breaking another record after drawing level with football icon Pele in club scorer list
Messi, 33, scored the historic goal just before half-time with a diving header, reacting quickest after Valencia 'keeper Jaume Domenech saved his spot kick in additional time during Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Valencia at the Camp Nou on Saturday.
Neither Messi nor Barca boss Ronald Koeman got the three points which would have given their stuttering title bid a much-needed shot in the arm, but the club's all-time top scorer will no doubt be satisfied with his historic contribution.
Barca skipper Messi achieved his 643 goals in just 748 appearances for the team he has represented since he was a boy, which is just under 100 games more than Pele required to score the same total (656 games) in his 18 seasons with Brazilian side Santos.
Debate about whether Pele scored 642 or 643 for Santos, but no doubt Messi has scored 643 for Barça. No one has scored more for a single club. 'Congratulations, Leo' says the big screen at Camp Nou— Samuel Marsden (@samuelmarsden) December 19, 2020
Since his Barcelona debut in 2004, Messi has risen to be considered very much the equal of the sport's accepted legends such as Pele and Messi's late compatriot, Diego Maradona. His tally of six Ballon d'Or titles is a record, and one more than that of perennial rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
In addition to his individual honors, Messi has also dominated the domestic game in Spain and Europe. He has 10 La Liga titles to his name, as well as four Champions League titles among the 34 trophies he has won in his career.
Messi still has a long way to go to surpass Pele's career goalscoring total. The Brazil icon is credited with scoring more than 1,000 goals in the entirely of his career - with Messi currently standing at 730 strikes for club and country.
💬Pele on Instagram - " Leo Messi needs no Introduction. Tireless, Wonderful and Brilliant. It's beautiful to see you play the game. Welcome to the 700 goals club. Thanks for being such a joy to watch"🤝 pic.twitter.com/imwYr3kT0R— Barça Worldwide (@BarcaWorldwide) July 2, 2020
The Argentine will have his first opportunity to take the single-club goalscoring record when he lines up for Barcelona in Tuesday's clash away to Valladolid on Tuesday.
There has been continual speculation around Messi's future after he attempted to engineer a move away from the Camp Nou after he interpreted language in his contract as meaning that he could leave the club on a free transfer days before the start of the new Spanish campaign.
He withdrew his request when it appeared that the resulting dispute would lead him to the courtroom before it would the training ground of Paris St. Germain or Manchester City, the two clubs thought to be his principle suitors.