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Messi leaves door open to 2026 World Cup

By AFP

December 2, 2023 10:37 AM


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Lionel Messi is not ruling out another bid for World Cup glory with Argentina in 2026 despite acknowledging that time is working against him.

Messi, who recently won his eighth Ballon d'Or, raised the World Cup almost a year ago after starring for Argentina in the final against France in Doha.

The 36-year-old had suggested at the time that the tournament in Qatar would be his last and that he wouldn't be around for the next tournament which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

But having moved to Major League Soccer's Inter Miami and continued performing for the national team in qualifiers for 2026, he says the door remains open.

"I'm not thinking about the World Cup and I'm not saying 100 percent that I won't be there because anything can happen. Because of my age, the most normal thing is that I won't be there. Then we'll see," said Messi in an interview with Argentina's Star+.

The Argentina captain said his focus on June's Copa America which will be held in the United States.

"Maybe we'll do well at the Copa America and everything will work out for us to continue. Maybe not. Realistically it's difficult," he said of the chance of a sixth consecutive appearance in the World Cup.

Messi said he would be "the first to know when I can be there and when I can't. I'm also aware that I've gone to a lesser league. But it's all about the personal side of things and the way you deal with it and how you compete.

"As long as I feel I'm well and can continue to contribute, I'm going to do it. Today all I'm thinking about is getting to the Copa America. After that, time will tell if I'm there or not.

"I'm going to arrive at an age that, normally, doesn't allow me to play in the World Cup. I said I don't think I'm going to be there. It looked like after the World Cup I was retiring and it was the opposite. Now I want to be there more than ever," he added.


AFP


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