Lionel Messi Hints at International Retirement, in Doubt to Defend World Cup Title in 2026
In the near future, Lionel Messi suggested he wants to play in next year’s Copa America in the US to help Argentina defend their title.
Lionel Messi may be in doubt as to whether he’ll be still playing for Argentina at the 2026 World Cup but he’s sure about one thing: he wants Lionel Scaloni to stay on as head coach until then, regardless. The 35-year-old Messi led Argentina to the title in Qatar last December and wasn’t entirely sure if his fifth trip to the World Cup would be his last. The next edition will take place in Mexico, Canada and the United States when Messi is 39.
Messi told newspaper Olé in an interview published on Thursday (February 2) that he’d regularly said his age would make it difficult to play another World Cup. “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,” he told the newspaper. “I have to see where my career goes, what I will do. It depends on many things.”
In the near future, he suggested he wants to play in next year’s Copa America in the US to help Argentina defend their title. “I will stay a little longer, I have to enjoy this,” he said.
Lionel Messi: "Because of my age, it seems very difficult for me to reach the next World Cup." __ pic.twitter.com/VZsbZ0IO8F — Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) February 2, 2023
Scaloni is negotiating an extension of his contract with the Argentinian soccer federation and Messi thinks the coach should remain on the job. “He is very important for the national team,” Messi said. “To continue with this process would be spectacular.”
Asked what it was like returning to his club París Saint Germain after Argentina beat France on penalties to win the World Cup, Messi said he didn’t have deep discussions about it with his teammate Kylian Mbappé, the French striker.
“One doesn’t want to speak and bring the topic of the final,” Messi said, recalling his own experience after losing the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in Brazil. “I was also on the other side, I lost a World Cup final and I didn't want to talk about it. Truth is there is no problem with Kylian, quite on the contrary,” Messi said.
Messi is set to play for Argentina in friendlies to be scheduled in Buenos Aires in March to celebrate the team’s third World Cup title with their fans.
(with PTI inputs)