Brazilian club Santos have denied that Lionel Messi has broken Pele’s club goal-scoring record in a shocking statement.

Messi scored his 644th goal for Barcelona against Real Valladolid last Tuesday, seemingly breaking Brazilian legend Pele’s total of 643 goals for Santos.

However, the Brazilian side have sensationally claimed that Pele scored 1,091 goals for the club, meaning Messi needs 448 more goals.

Via a statement, Santos claimed: “A goal against Transvaal (from Suriname) has the same value as a goal scored at Real Madrid, in the middle of the Santiago Bernabeu.

“In 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 others.”

In effect, what Santos claim is that Pele’s total of 643 goals does not include friendly matches, it only counts ‘official’ competitions.

Pele is lifted up by his Santos team mates after scoring the 1,000th goal of his career during a game against Vasco da Gama at the Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 19th November 1969. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

They continued: “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.”

Despite this debate, Pele himself took to social media to congratulate Messi for matching his tally, when he scored his 643rd goal against Valencia earlier this month.

Lionel Messi and Pele together at the FIFAPRO awards in 2012. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

On Instagram, Pele said: “Congratulations on your historic record, Lionel. But above all 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.”

So, whether Messi has broken the record for most goals for a single club, the level of respect between the two footballing greats is clear to see.

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