Lionel Messi fans are aguing that the Argentina legend has scored only one less goal in his club career than Cristiano Ronaldo, and they are using stats to prove it.

Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines earlier this month when he scored the 500th league goal of his club career during a match for Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr.

In terms of total career goals, nobody can get close to Ronaldo’s current tally of 824 in 1,149 games. Lionel Messi is third in the all-time rankings with 797, and when it comes to professional club goals, his Portuguese rival beats him again.

During a club career spent with Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and Al Nassr, Ronaldo has found the back of the net on 706 occasions. Messi has scored 699 goals for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, but fans are suggesting that his tally should actually stand at 705.

That’s because according to world league rankings published by TeamForm, the Saudi Arabian Pro League, Ronaldo’s current home, is the 66th-best league in the world.

By comparison, the Spanish third tier – a competition in which Messi made 22 appearances and scored six goals for Barcelona B at the start of his career – comes in at 57th in the rankings.

The point is that when the scoring stats of the two icons are compared, Ronaldo’s five goals for Al Nassr are included while Messi’s six for Barcelona B are not.

Segunda B is statistically better than the Saudi Pro League. (Image Credit: @8bdrszn/Twitter)Those six goals technically come under Messi’s professional career – he signed his first professional contract with Barca in February 2004, a month before he made his third-tier debut for Barca’s B team.

TeamForm produced the rankings “using a unique and sophisticated algorithm,” with “ratings adjusted continuously based on the performance in football matches.”

The company covers more than 700 leagues worldwide.

Messi’s legion of fans might have a point then. In terms of career club goals, the record book should read ‘Ronaldo 706, Messi 705.’