Lionel Messi will turn 36 this summer and be 39 years old when the 2026 FIFA World Cup comes around in three years. However, the soon-to-be former Paris Saint-Germain star is ruling out playing in the next tournament.
Nonetheless, Rodrigo De Paul has indicated that Messi may be enticed to extend his international career with Argentina to the next World Cup.
“There is a lot of time left before the World Cup – three years is a long time,” De Paul told TyC Sports. “The important thing is to always have him close, that he enjoys being her. We still have to qualify for the World Cup too; there is a Copa America before. There are a lot of things; he’s going to see how he feels.
“The most important thing we have is the next friendly match and then to start the World Cup qualifiers well, which is going to be very important. He can play until whatever day he wants, he’s one step ahead of everyone and that is his mentality, and he will never lose it.”
It appears Messi will be part of the 2024 Copa América as the tournament occurs in the United States. The Argentine will be in the middle of his contract with Inter Miami, so it makes sense for him to participate.
Maybe if the veteran takes a backseat role on the 2026 squad, he can be on the team as a player-coach or leader. It will be interesting to see whether Messi gets pressured into going back on his statement and plays in 2026 or decides that the 2022 World Cup was enough for him.