Lionel Messi’s Lack of ‘Extra Motivation’ Sign That He Won’t Play 2026 World Cup

There are not many football fans and players not ready to see Lionel Messi retire from the Argentina national team. However, after winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup and being 35 years old, his time is nearing its end.

Nonetheless, many are still pushing for Messi to be part of this next World Cup cycle leading into the 2026 tournament in Canada, Mexico and the United States. But Mario Alberto Kempes believes the Paris Saint-Germain star will be absent from the squad at the next World Cup.

“From what I see on the pitch, he is paying for the physical and mental wear and tear that is needed for a world championship,” Kempes told TNT Sports Argentina Friday. “He won, but now he’s in his team; he didn’t have enough time to rest.

“He lacks that extra motivation to do what he did during the World Cup. Hopefully, he’ll do it again, it’s costing him a little. He’s in a league that isn’t one of the best, but he feels comfortable there. He can stay there for 3 and a half years. If he stays and thinks he can play another World Cup.”

Messi will be 39 in 2026 and to demand that he continue to play at a high level for the next three years is a lot to ask for from the veteran. If he doesn’t retire this year from international competition, the likely scenario will be that Messi has his last dance at the 2024 Copa America.

The Argentine can help Argentina defend their Copa America crown in the United States as the tournament will also feature CONCACAF nations. Regardless, fans just need to enjoy Messi while he’s still playing international football for however long that last. 

Tags 2026 World Cup Argentina national team Lionel Messi
Follow Us