Lionel Messi Unlikely To Feature At 2026 World Cup

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Argentina captain Lionel Messi has said that “in principle” last year’s FIFA World Cup would be his fifth and final appearance at football’s global showpiece event.

Messi, 35, led his the South American nation to a third World Cup triumph in Qatar last December, saying throughout the tournament that he would not be playing at another edition.

The legendary footballer was persuaded out of international retirement in 2016, however, many of his compatriots were hoping he might be cajoled into going on to the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi holds up the trophy after winning the FIFA World Cup final.

“I think not. This was my last World Cup,” Messi said in an interview ahead of Argentina’s friendly against Australia in Beijing.

“I’ll see how things go but in principle, I won’t go to the next World Cup.”

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, who recently announced a move from Paris St Germain (PSG) to Inter Miami in the United States, also paid tribute to his former coach at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola.

Messi and Guardiola won two Champions League titles together at the Barcelona and the Argentine was delighted the Spaniard had finally clinched club football’s biggest prize with Manchester City last weekend.

“I talk a lot with Pep as we still maintain frequent contact. I am very happy about his achievement, winning the recent UEFA Champions League,” Messi added.

“He is the best coach in the world, and although, in my opinion, he didn’t need to win this Champions League title to prove that, it further demonstrates that he is the world’s top coach, which is an achievement he deserves.”

Argentina play the Socceroos of Australia at the newly rebuilt Workers Stadium in the Chinese capital on Thursday.

Source Reuters
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