February 3 – World Cup winner Lionel Messi did not shut the door on returning to the biggest stage of all, but said he was not sure he can still bring what it takes at the 2026 World Cup. The Argentinean will be 39 at the start of the next World Cup.
He does expect to be in the US for Copa America 2024 though.
Last year, Messi led Argentina to a third world title, the crowning moment and achievement of his illustrious career, firmly cementing his name in the gallery of the greats, but he said in an interview with Argentinean newspaper Ole, the 2026 tournament, hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada, feels like it could be step too far.
“I love playing soccer, I love what I do and while I am feeling well and feel I am fit and continue to enjoy it, I will do it. But it seems to be too much until the next World Cup,” said Messi. “I have to see where my career goes, what I will do. It depends on many things.”
But he suggested he will still participate in next year’s Copa America in the United States. Argentina are the defending champions. He also wants current coach Lionel Scaloni to stay on. The manager is negotiating a contract extension,
“I will stay a little longer, I have to enjoy this,” said Messi.
“He (Scaloni) is very important for the national team. To continue with this process would be spectacular.”
Scaloni had come in as a caretaker manager, but proved so successful in building talented individuals into a team around Messi that he got the role permanently. It proved to be an astute decision as Scaloni used his personnel wisely, demonstrating flexibility in his tactics as Argentina overcame a first match loss to romp the World Cup title in Qatar.
Argentina and Messi are set to feature in celebratory friendlies in March.
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