Despite acknowledging the ticking clock, Lionel Messi has not ruled out the possibility of pursuing another bid for World Cup glory with Argentina in 2026.
The 36-year-old football icon, who recently secured his eighth Ballon d’Or, clinched the World Cup almost a year ago by delivering a stellar performance for Argentina in the final against France in Doha.
Initially suggesting that the tournament in Qatar would mark his farewell from World Cup competitions, Messi hinted that he might reconsider.
The next edition of the tournament is set to be co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and although time is a factor, Messi has not completely closed the door on the prospect of participating in the 2026 World Cup.
The football world eagerly awaits any decisions Messi may make regarding his international career, as fans and enthusiasts continue to be inspired by his exceptional skill and dedication on the global stage.
But having moved to Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami and continued performing for the national team in qualifiers for 2026, he says the door remains open.
“I’m not thinking about the World Cup, and I’m not saying 100 per cent that I won’t be there because anything can happen. Because of my age, the most normal thing is that I won’t be there. Then we’ll see,” said Messi in an interview with Argentina’s Star+.
The Argentina captain said his focus is on June’s Copa America, which will be held in the United States.
When asked about the chances of a sixth consecutive appearance in the World Cup, he said, “Maybe we’ll do well at the Copa America, and everything will work out for us to continue. Maybe not. Realistically, it’s difficult,”
Messi said he would be “the first to know when I can be there and when I can’t. I’m also aware that I’ve gone to a lesser league. But it’s all about the personal side of things and the way you deal with it, and how you compete.
“As long as I feel I’m well and can continue to contribute, I’m going to do it. Today, all I’m thinking about is getting to the Copa America. After that, time will tell if I’m there or not.
“I’m going to arrive at an age that, normally, doesn’t allow me to play in the World Cup. I said I don’t think I’m going to be there. It looked like after the World Cup, I was retiring, and it was the opposite. Now I want to be there more than ever,” he added.