Lionel Messi is not ruling out playing in the 2026 World Cup in North America. Despite previously saying that the 2022 version of the tournament would certainly be his last, he may now have a change of heart.
However, the soccer superstar also admitted that playing on the world’s stage at 39 won’t be easy.
“Because of age it’ll be difficult to make 2026,” Messi told Argentine outlet 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.”
Playing in next World Cup ‘depends on many things’
“I’m not anticipating anything either. But it is what I repeat and I will repeat: due to age and time, it seems to me that it is difficult. But it depends on how my career goes. This year I am going to turn 36. I am going to see where my career is going, what I am going to do, and it depends on many things.”
Messi’s comments come just a few weeks after Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni claimed that his star could still play in the 2026 World Cup. “I think Messi can make it to the next World Cup,” said Scaloni. “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 can add to records at World Cup 2026
The superstar has already broken the record for most ever World Cup match appearances. By playing in the epic final with France in December, he surpassed Germany’s Lothar Matthaus and has now played in 26 total games in the competition. Messi is also one of five players in history to play in five World Cup tournaments as well.
Although he is now 35, Messi isn’t exactly showing signs of slowing down. The Paris Saint-Germain forward currently has 13 goals and 14 assists in just 22 matches in Ligue 1 and Champions League play this season.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Buzzi
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