BUENOS AIRES: After hoisting his first World Cup trophy with Argentina in December, Lionel Messi said that tournament would be his last, but now it appears he’s open to the possibility of playing in the 2026 event.

“Because of age it’ll be difficult to make 2026,” Messi, 35, told Diario Ole, a sports newspaper in Argentina. “I love playing football and while I feel like I’m in good shape and enjoying this, I’m going to keep at it. It seems like a long time until the next World Cup, but it depends on how my career is going.”

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni would love to see the superstar — who is one of only six players to compete in five World Cups — suit up for the next World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

“I think Messi can make it to the next World Cup,” Scaloni told Spanish radio Calvia FM last month. “It will depend a lot on what he wants and what happens over time, that he feels good. The doors will always be open. He is happy on the pitch, and for us [it] would be good.”

After scoring seven goals in the 2022 World Cup, Messi could become the World Cup’s all-time leading scorer if he suits up in 2026. He has 13 goals, three behind record-holder Miroslav Klose of Germany.

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2023

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