Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni hopes the Qatar World Cup WON’T be Lionel Messi’s last – even though the PSG star will be 39 by the time the 2026 tournament comes around!
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni is refusing to rule out a World Cup return for Lionel Messi in four years time, when the PSG forward will be 39 years old.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has himself confirmed that Qatar 2022 will be his fifth and final appearance at football’s greatest tournament, but his manager is clearly still hopeful of what would be a significant U-turn.
Argentine head into the tournament as dark horses to lift the trophy in Qatar on December 18, on the back of a 35-game unbeaten run.
Lionel Scaloni admitted that he hopes Lionel Messi will still be playing at the next World Cup
‘Hopefully it won’t be Messi’s last World Cup,’ said Scaloni to CNN Radio. ‘He is happy on the pitch and makes a lot of people happy.
Messi will be 39 years of age in 2026
‘If we take care of him and bring him the way we have to bring him, there could possibly be more games from him because the world of football is asking for it.’
However for the greatest player in history to once more take to the World Cup stage in 2026, he would have to do what only a handful of players have done in the past and play on past his 39th birthday.
There is little doubting that he is till up there with the best in the world despite being 35 years of age, but whether or not there will be a steep drop-off in his abilities as he approaches 40 is still uncertain.
And it is not as if his country are lacking in offensive quality, with the likes of Lautaro Martinez, Julia Alvarez and Paulo Dybala, Giovanni Simeone and Joaquin Correa all sure to feature in 2026, as well as any players that might make their breakthrough in the next four years.
Scaloni will still have a wealth of attacking talent to call upon once his talisman does retire
It is not entirely out of the question that he could make a comeback before the tournament, set to be held across the north American continent.
The 35-year-old declared he was retiring from international football after losing the 2016 Copa America final to Chile as he lost his fourth major final, including the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil.
However he went back on his decision and has been a mainstay in the national team ever since, starring with four goals and five assists as Argentina lifted the 2021 Copa America trophy.
But Messi has already had his say on his future, stating: ‘There’s some anxiety and nerves at the same time … it is the last one,’ in an interview with Star Plus.
Messi starred with four goals and five assists as Argentina won the 2021 Copa America trophy