Lionel Messi and Argentina will have to put their 2022 FIFA World Cup achievement in the rearview mirror as they begin the cycle for the 2026 edition of the tournament in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Apart from playing in CONMEBOL’s World Cup qualifiers, the next major tournament that Messi and Argentina will play in is the 2024 Copa América. The tournament will occur in the United States, with La Albiceleste being the reigning champions.
Claudio Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association, discussed the upcoming tournament with Messi leading the charge as they attempt to repeat as champions.
“There is already a year left for the Copa América … I don’t know if it will be big for the next World Cup,” Tapia told Argentine media outlet Olé (h/t AS). “Of course, first, the FIFA date (September) and the Qualifiers. In the next World Cup, hopefully, we, Argentines, will have him on the playing field putting on the National Team shirt. Those of us who know him know that it is step-by-step.
“It is today to enjoy that we will have [Messi] for another year with our shirt, like [Angel Di Mara]. They can continue giving much more to the National Team. And you have to enjoy being world champions, that everyone has this desire to continue winning things, which is worth much more.”
If Messi participates in the Copa América, the question many will be asking is if the 35-year-old will be if he wants to play in the 2026 World Cup. The veteran will turn 38 that summer, so if Argentina wants to take him for his sixth World Cup, it will be up to the player if he wants to go.