Messi, Ronaldo, Pele: Who has the most goals, assists and best goals-per-game ratio?

  • Kobe Tong

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have now scored more goals than Pele... probably.

As you may or may not know, counting goals from historic eras of the beautiful game is eaiser said than done and ultimately depends upon what you actually class as being an official goal.

Besides, Pele actually lays claim to 1,283 strikes in his Instagram bio and although many of them were scored in friendlies, they were by no means straightforward games a lot of the time.

Ronaldo and Messi surpass Pele

However, it's generally agreed upon that Pele's official goal tally in line with modern standards actually sits around the 700 mark, which Ronaldo and Messi have both surpassed in recent years.

According to the Mirror, Pele has amassed 757 goals that we can be absolutely certain of with Messi having both equalled and then surpassed this figure in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Paris Saint-Germain star's brace against Club Brugge therefore saw him overhaul Pele's total just as Ronaldo, who recently celebrated his 800th career goal, did before him.

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And regardless of whose stats you believe in terms of Pele's overall tally, we can surely all agree that it makes for a natural point at which to compare the Brazilian to Messi and Ronaldo regardless.

Besides, while we might half-know that Messi and Ronaldo have now scored more goals than Pele, does that actually mean that they were more lethal finishers than the three-time World Cup winner?

Well, the closest we can come to answering that question is by looking at all three players' scoring habits in a little closer detail and to do that, we're turning our attention to

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Messi vs Ronaldo vs Pele

As one of the internet's biggest statistical studies of Ronaldo and Messi, it seems fitting that one of their bespoke features pits the two Ballon d'Or winners against Pele's goalscoring antics.

So, what happens when the contemporary superstars are contrasted against the poacher in chief of the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s? Well, it certainly is eye-opening, so check it out down below:

Lionel Messi

Games: 950

Goals: 758

Assists: 318

Goal-per-game ratio: 0.80

Goal-contribution-per-game ratio: 1.13


Cristiano Ronaldo

Games: 1,096

Goals: 801

Assists: 229

Goal-per-game ratio: 0.73

Goal-contribution-per-game ratio: 0.94



Games: 812

Goals: 757

Assists: 343

Goal-per-game ratio: 0.93

Goal-contribution-per-game ratio: 1.35


Note: Pele's match statistics are attributed to an in-depth study on BigSoccer using contemporary media clippings and descriptions.

Pele was more lethal

Very, very interesting. So, Pele comes out on top over both Messi and Ronaldo in terms of the rate at which he turned over goals and goal contributions even if his overall total has been surpassed.

Naturally, we need to insert the relevant caveats about Pele's era and the quality of the opposition, but we equally can't pretend as though the purported statistics are without any merit.

As we explained in our walk through of a fascinating Twitter thread on Pele earlier in the week, the myths that surround the Brazilian and his goals border on hyperbolic and unrepresentative.


Don't get us wrong, we're not saying that these stats settle the GOAT debate or anything, but it's just worth keeping Pele in the back of our minds no matter how much Ronaldo and Messi overtake him.

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