Will Messi play 2026 World Cup?
Lionel Messi, the esteemed captain of the Argentine national football team, made an announcement on Tuesday that he does not have intentions to participate in the 2026 FIFA World Cup. At 35 years of age, Messi notably guided Argentina to victory in the previous year's World Cup held in Qatar, marking his fifth appearance in the tournament.
Throughout the course of the competition, Messi consistently reiterated that the Qatar World Cup would be his final one. Despite this, there remained a sense of optimism among Argentina's coach Lionel Scaloni, his fellow teammates, and fans, who held onto the hope that the recipient of the prestigious Ballon d'Or award on seven occasions might decide to grace the 2026 World Cup hosted jointly by the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
As reported by the Efe News Agency, Messi conveyed to the Chinese sports outlet Titan Sports his perspective on the matter of the 2026 World Cup: "I believe not. [Qatar] marked the conclusion of my participation in World Cups. I will monitor the situation, but as things stand presently, I have no intention of participating in the upcoming World Cup."
At present, Messi is fulfilling his international duties with the Argentine squad in China, where they are gearing up for friendly matches against Australia on Thursday, followed by a match against Indonesia four days later.
Notably, the former star of Barcelona announced in the previous week his decision to join the ranks of Major League Soccer, aligning himself with Inter Miami CF, once his contract with Paris Saint-Germain concludes on June 30th.
The recent tournament in Qatar underscored Messi's pivotal role as he secured the one major accolade that had eluded him throughout his illustrious career. Across seven games, Messi found the net on seven occasions, achieving the distinction of becoming the first player to score in every stage of a World Cup, a feat that gained prominence with the introduction of the round of 16 in 1986.
Furthermore, Messi's standout performance in the final match against France, a captivating encounter that culminated in a high-stakes penalty shootout, enabled him to propel Argentina to their third World Cup championship. In a testament to his remarkable prowess, he also secured his second Golden Ball award, a recognition initiated in 1982, with his initial triumph in 2014.