World Cup-winning Argentine skipper Lionel Messi unsure of participating in next edition, but is keen to play in 2024 Copa America; backs coach Lionel Scaloni to continue guiding national team
Lionel Messi. Pics/Getty Images
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 that he’d regularly said his age would make it difficult to play another World Cup.
Long way to go
“I love playing football, 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.
Argentine boss Lionel Scaloni
“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 its title. “I will stay a little longer, I have to enjoy this,” he said.
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. To continue with this process would be spectacular,” Messi said.
No discussions with Mbappe
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.
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