Lionel Messi Doesn't Rule Out Playing for Argentina in 2026 FIFA World Cup

Messi will turn 39 during the 2026 tournament

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The world may not have seen the last of Lionel Messi in the World Cup.

Just a few months removed from finally hoisting the coveted trophy in Qatar, Messi is already discussing potentially playing in the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Despite saying before the Qatar tournament started that it'd be his last World Cup, on Thursday he didn't rule out playing in 2026.

"Because of age it'll be difficult to make 2026," Messi told Argentine publication Diario Olé. "I love playing football and while I feel like I'm in good shape and enjoying this, I'm going to keep at it. It seems like a long time until the next World Cup, but it depends on how my career is going."

Messi is currently 35 and would turn 39 years old during the summer 2026 tournament that will be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The 2022 World Cup Golden Ball winner certainly has logged quite the mileage since his days as a youngster, but his style has translated well since he lost his lightning pace due to age.

If he does play in 2026, he could also further cement himself in sports lore by potentially becoming the competition's all-time leading scorer. He netted seven times in Qatar to boost his total to 13, three behind Germany's Miroslav Klose.

Argentine manager Lionel Scaloni also holds optimism on Messi's future.

"I think Messi can make it to the next World Cup," Scaloni said to Spanish radio Calvia FM in January. "It will depend a lot on what he wants and what happens over time, that he feels good. The doors will always be open. He is happy on the pitch, and for us [it] would be good."

Messi additionally said after the 2022 World Cup that he didn't have any plans to retire and wanted to continue "playing as a champion."

The next major international tournament Argentina is slated to participate in is the 2024 Copa America, which will officially be hosted by the U.S. and could give Messi a taste of the atmosphere in 2026.

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