Lionel Messi, the maestro of Argentine football, is not ready to hang up his boots just yet. While the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was initially presumed to be his swan song, the 36-year-old football icon is now eyeing the 2026 World Cup in the United States and Mexico. In a recent interview with ESPN, Messi expressed his desire to continue donning the Argentine jersey as long as he feels good and can maintain his stellar performance.
Messi’s immediate focus, however, lies on the Copa America, where he aims to lead Argentina to further glory. He stated, “I’ll continue playing with Argentina as long as I feel good and can maintain my performance. My focus now is on reaching the Copa America and playing in it.”
The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner reflected on the highs and lows of his international career, emphasizing the significance of the Copa America. He recounted the 2016 edition held in the United States, where Argentina reached the final but suffered a heartbreaking loss to Chile in a penalty shootout. However, Messi bounced back, guiding Argentina to victory in the 2021 Copa America and securing the elusive World Cup title against France in 2022.
Amid speculation about his retirement, Messi revealed a newfound determination to continue representing his country, stating, “It seemed like I was retiring after the 2022 World Cup, but now I’m more determined than ever to be with the team. We’re in a special moment, and I want to savor it without looking too far ahead.”
As the football maestro contemplates his future, he acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead. “Maybe I’ll continue if things go well in the Copa America, or maybe not. It’s challenging. Becoming a world champion brought me a sense of tranquility, knowing that in my profession, I’ve achieved everything.”
The upcoming Copa America promises an intriguing chapter in Messi’s illustrious career, with six guest teams from the CONCACAF region joining the fray. The anticipation builds as Argentina awaits the draw on December 7, eager to discover their opponents on the road to potential glory.
While the 2026 World Cup beckons on the horizon, Messi’s immediate focus remains on the Copa America, where he aims to add another glorious chapter to his storied football journey. The football world watches in anticipation as Messi continues to weave his magic on the pitch, leaving an indelible mark on the beautiful game.