Having previously suggested that the 2022 tournament would be his final FIFA World Cup, it appears Lionel Messi could make a drastic U-turn regarding his plans for the next global showpiece.
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Prior to leading his nation to World Cup glory on the weekend, Messi had suggested that the tournament in Qatar would be the last time the world would see him on football's biggest stage, but according to an Argentina legend, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner may change his tune.
The 35-year-old and La Albiceleste finally ended their 36-year wait for a third star on their crest as the Paris Saint-Germain star's brace in the final against the French helped Argentina become the new champions of the world.
While Messi has since revealed that the final was not his last game for the South American champions, the former Barcelona man did not clarify whether or not he intended to play at the next edition of the competition.
However, Jorge Valdano, who was part of the Argentina squad that captured the 1986 world title, has revealed that Messi told him he would play in the 2026 World Cup if he was able win the 2022 iteration.
"When I interviewed him before the World Cup, off-camera he told me that he was going to play in his fifth World Cup and that no footballer had played six; he told me that it was impossible, and he told me 'If I'm a world champion, I'll keep my shirt on until the next World Cup'," the former Real Madrid executive told Cadena COPE.
"We will see if Messi is capable. Football has shown that it is practically impossible to play in six World Cups."
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Antonio Carbajal, Lothar Matthaus, Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi are the only six players who have played at five World Cups, so the Argentine attacker would add to his plethora of tournament records should he make it to the 2026 competition, which will be jointly hosted by Mexico, the United States of America and Canada.
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