4th February 2023 – (Buenos Aires) Argentina captain Lionel Messi has left open the possibility of playing at the 2026 FIFA World Cup, but says his participation will depend on ‘many things’.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward previously declared the 2022 World Cup in Qatar would mark his last appearance in football’s showpiece event.
But Argentina’s triumphant campaign – in which Messi scored seven goals and won the best player award of the tournament – has prompted him to reconsider the possibility of playing in a sixth World Cup.
Messi will turn 39 during the tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“I don’t know, I always said that due to age it seems to me that it will be very difficult to make it to 2026,” the 35-year-old told Argentine sports daily Ole.
“I love playing football, I love what I do and as long as I’m good and feel fit and continue to enjoy it, I’m going to do it. But it seems like a lot to go until next World Cup. I’m going to see where my career is going, what I am going to do and it depends on many things.”
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni told reporters in December last year that he would keep the No. 10 shirt for Messi for as long as he wants to play on.
Meanwhile, Messi said he was still on an emotional high after Argentina’s penalty shootout victory over France in the World Cup final in Lusail on December 18, 2022.
It came less than 18 months after the Albiceleste beat Brazil in the Copa America final – the team’s first major trophy since the 1993 Copa America.
“Achieving it at the end of my career was amazing,” Messi said. “If it had happened earlier, it would have been great too, obviously. But then you have your whole career ahead of you. My career has almost ended and I don’t think there’s a better way to finish than that.”