Ligue 1: Pundit Explains Why Messi Won’t Play 2026 FIFA World Cup

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni recently stated that the door is open for Lionel Messi to be on the squad for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America (Canada, Mexico, & United States).

However, his age could be the only issue that could stop Messi from playing in another World Cup. The Paris Saint-Germain forward will be 39 years old when the ball rolls to start the tournament.

ESPN FC’s Alejandro Moreno doesn’t believe that football fans will be seeing Messi in 2026, explaining that the grind to reach the tournament could stop the 35-year-old.

“[Argentina] just got done winning the World Cup,” Moreno said on Wednesday’s edition of ESPN FC. “So everybody’s feeling great, everybody’s feeling so good, so high, so excited. ‘Oh, what a moment this would be to be able to recreate this in four years time.’ Let me remind you, it’s four years time and a lot has to happen. And you have to go through a whole World Cup qualifying cycle. The difficulties of that in CONMEBOL and the stresses of that. And a Copa America as well in the middle of all that.

“Yeah, at some point, it becomes a grind again, you forget how magical it was and you realize, this may not be for me. I don’t think we’re going to see Lionel Messi in 2026. And if we see Lionel Messi in 2026, it’s because Argentina hasn’t been able to find a way of winning games without Messi. So it’s more of a referendum. Argentina, the fact that they have to depend on again, on Lionel Messi, I just don’t see it happening.”

Messi has his World Cup and although the prospect of him playing at a high level in his late 30s would intrigue many, the toll it takes to get through the qualification in CONMEBOL might be too much for him.

For the Argentine, he’ll likely play in the 2024 Copa America, likely to occur in the U.S., then perhaps end his international career there.

Tags 2026 World Cup Alejandro Moreno ESPN FC Lionel Messi
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