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Santos dispute Messi breaking Pele's record: A goal against Transvaal is worth one against Real Madrid

Santos are disputing that Barcelona’s Lionel Messi now holds the world record for goals scored with a single club.

When Messi found the net against Valladolid for the Catalans in a 3-1 victory on Tuesday, it was widely accepted that his 644th strike for Barca eclipsed a mark set by Pele while turning out for the Brazilian side.

Santos, though, are claiming that goals scored in friendlies and exhibition matches should not be discounted and that the correct record remains Pele’s, which they state stands at 1091 goals.

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In a lengthy statement published on the club’s official website, the Brazilians state: “The 448 goals which they are trying to omit today were scored against the top clubs from those seasons. Pele scored nine goals against each of Club America (Mexico) and Colo Colo (Chile). He also put eight past Inter Milan, one of the best European clubs in 1960.

“The list is immense and with big clubs: River Plate, Boca Juniors, Racing, Universidad de Chile, Real Madrid, Juventus, Lazio, Napoli, Benfica and Anderlecht. Barcelona themselves, where Messi plays, were also one of Pele's victims: four goals, scored in four games.

“The argument of some analysts is that many of these 448 goals scored in friendly matches were against weak opponents, like small teams or regional teams. Even so, the matches were played in official uniform with the official laws of the game and officially logged.

“We must remember that clubs could only play friendlies with the approval of the regional and national federations. That is one of the rules imposed by FIFA, the organiser of world football.

“Taking into account subjective attributes, like the strength of opponents, is not ideal for compiling statistical data. The numbers are absolute. A goal against Eibar is statistically the same as one scored versus Valencia. A goal against Transvaal (of Surinam) is worth the same as one scored against Real Madrid, in the middle of the Santiago Bernabeu.”

Pele, meanwhile, has already congratulated Messi on breaking his mark.

Messi will miss Barca’s last match of 2020 due to an ankle injury but is expected to return imminently as the Catalans look to make up an eight-point difference between themselves and table-topping pair Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.