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Published 12:36 IST, June 8th 2024

'It depends on...': Lionel Messi discusses playing in the 2026 World Cup amid retirement rumors

Lionel Messi remains undecided about participating in the 2026 World Cup amidst retirement speculations, emphasizing uncertainty about his future plans.

Reported by: Aryan Suraj Chadha
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Lionel Messi | Image: AP
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In 2022, Lionel Messi solidified his status as one of the greatest of all time by leading Argentina to their 3rd World Cup victory, defeating France in a spectacular final. As a 37-year-old, speculation arises regarding his participation in the 2026 World Cup due to his age. Despite his remarkable skills and experience, the question of Messi's physical capabilities and form as he approaches his late 30s raises concerns about his potential presence in such a competitive tournament.

Also Read: Real Madrid have their heart set on signing Bayern Munich star

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Lionel Messi speaks on whether he will play in the FIFA World Cup in 2026

Regarding his thirteenth major competition for Argentina, Lionel Messi has voiced doubt. During the competition, which the US, Canada, and Mexico will host, the Inter Miami star will turn 39.

The eight-time Ballon d'Or winner has alluded to a potential last appearance on the international scene, but he admits that as his remarkable career draws to a conclusion, his choice would rely on his physical state and general preparedness. Speaking in an interview with Infobae. Lionel Messi said: 

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"It depends on how I feel, on how I am physically," 

"I have to be realistic with myself and know if I am up to the task of being able to compete and help the team-mates next to me. There is some time left, and I don't know how I will be at that moment. 

"Age is also a reality, although it is a number, and the games that I am going to play [at Inter Miami] are not the same as the ones I played when I was in Europe. 

"It will depend on how I feel, what I feel when I'm next to my team-mates, and I'll see if I'm still up to par or not."

Across his 12 MLS games this season, Messi has scored 12 goals and provided nine assists. In the next weeks, the captain of Argentina will also spearhead his nation's attempts to defend its Copa America championship.  He added: 

"I think that Argentina is always favourite," he said. "When a tournament starts, be it a World Cup, Copa America or whatever, Argentina is a candidate just like Brazil and more so in this Copa America. 

“But I think that today the South American teams are very strong. Uruguay are very good, as are Colombia and Ecuador. I think it will be a very level Copa America.”

The Copa America campaign for La Albiceleste will begin on June 20 at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Canada. Messi thinks that this year's tournament has the highest level of competitiveness ever.

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12:36 IST, June 8th 2024