Pele praises in-demand Messi for his ‘rare’ love of Barcelona
Pele has paid tribute to Barcelona star Lionel Messi after the forward equalled a remarkable record held by the Brazil great.
Messi scored in Barca’s 2-2 home La Liga draw against Valencia on Saturday.
It was his 643rd competitive goal for the Camp Nou club, for whom he made his debut as a 17-year-old in 2004.
Reaching 643 meant he equalled the record held by Pele for most goals at one club, which the 80-year-old achieved for Santos.
While Messi has been involved in one of the biggest transfer sagas of all-time and looks poised to leave next season, Pele pointed to how rare his love and loyalty to Barca was in the modern game.
“When your heart overflows with love, it is difficult to change your path,” Pele wrote on Instagram as he congratulated Messi.
“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.”
Amid transfer talk, Messi continues to carry Barca
While Barca dropped points against Valencia, Messi was magnificent again.
He recorded an 8.8 FC Rating thanks to his goal in first-half stoppage time and a display that saw him rack up 10 shots and complete a game-high five dribbles.
Messi, 33, already has eight man-of-the-match awards this season and while Barca are off the pace in fifth position, they would be much further down the table without the Argentina international.
With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Messi is in demand.
PSG have told their stores around the French capital to brace themselves for an influx of business based around shirt sales.
Manchester City, managed by former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, are the other side reportedly involved in the chase to sign Messi.