When you're moving ahead of Pelé in the record books, you know you've done something right.
Lionel Messi broke a tie with the Brazilian legend on Tuesday, scoring his 644th goal in all competitions for Barcelona, which is now the most by any player at a single club. Pelé scored 643 with Santos in his native country, a record that stood for 46 years until Messi's strike at Real Valladolid.
Messi, who had assisted on the opener to Clement Lenglet, made it 3-0 by completing a lovely team sequence. He started it too, playing the ball to Frenkie de Jong. The Dutch midfielder picked out Pedri, who played Messi through with a back-heel pass, and the Argentine great finished with authority for the record-setting goal.
Messi nearly scored his 645th in second-half stoppage time, only to hit the post.
U.S. fullback Sergiño Dest assisted on Barcelona's second, which was scored by Martin Braithwaite.
Messi had pulled even with Pelé in Barcelona's 2-2 draw vs. Valencia over the weekend, an accomplishment that drew a message of praise from the three-time World Cup winner.
"When your heart overflows with love, it is difficult to change your path," Pelé 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, Leo Messi."
The comments are especially poignant given that Messi wanted to leave the club over the summer over a dispute with now-ex-club president Josep Bartomeu. Messi's contract runs through the end of this season, and Barcelona's presidential elections on Jan. 24 could go a long way in determining just how many more goals Messi will score in a Barcelona shirt.