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Lionel Messi joins Cristiano Ronaldo and legends including Pele, Puskas, Romario in 700-goal club

It’s been quite a week for Lionel Messi. The Barcelona superstar celebrated his 33rd birthday on June 24, then joined one of elite football’s most exclusive and illustrious clubs six days later when, against Atletico Madrid, the Argentina captain netted the 700th goal of his career.

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Having sat on 699 senior career goals for club and country since converting a penalty in Barca’s win over Leganes on June 16, Messi hit the latest milestone in his stunning career when he converted a 50th-minute spot kick, nonchalantly sending Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak the wrong way.

Messi has taken 862 games to reach this incredible landmark, which is 111 games fewer than his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo needed to reach the mark at the end of 2019. However, the 35-year-old Ronaldo still boasts the status of the highest active goal scorer, and by some margin. Here are the top five:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Juventus): 728 goals (1,005 games)
2. Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona): 700 (862)
3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, AC Milan): 540 (907)
4. Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona): 472 (637)
5. Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich): 466 (697)

Lionel Messi’s 700th career goal was also his 32nd against Atletico Madrid. Getty

Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi became the seventh member of a select club of players to have scored 700 or more goals; the group includes some of the greatest stars to play the game, plus one less-heralded name (some records are unverified, so allow for variations in actual totals).

6. Cristiano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo has been in a running duel with Messi for top individual honours for much of his career. Antonio Balasco/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images

Ronaldo took his place among the 700 Club last October with a goal for Portugal with a consolation strike from the penalty spot in a 2-1 Euro 2020 qualifying defeat against Ukraine. The Juventus superstar is also still the…