Scaloni hints Messi could feature in 2026 World Cup

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Final - Argentina v France - Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar - December 18, 2022 Argentina's Lionel Messi kisses the World Cup trophy after receiving the Golden Ball award as he celebrates after winning the World Cup REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has said he believes Lionel Messi can play at the 2026 World Cup.

Messi, 35, led Argentina to glory in Qatar last month and repeatedly said throughout the tournament that it was going to be his last World Cup.

“I think Messi can make it to the next World Cup,” Scaloni told Spanish radio Calvia FM. “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.”

The Paris Saint-Germain forward did say he would continue to play for the Albiceleste in the near future after finally adding a World Cup winners’ medal to his illustrious resume.

“I really enjoy being in the national team and being a part of this group,” Messi said after the World Cup final. “I want to continue experiencing more games [with the national team] as world champion.”

Lionel Messi played a key role as Argentina lifted the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. ANP via Getty Images

Messi was close to winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany in the final.

However, Messi made up for his disappointment by playing a starring role in his fifth World Cup tournament in Qatar.

Messi netted seven times in seven games and became the first player to score in each round of the same World Cup since the round of 16 was introduced in 1986.

He scored twice in the final against France, which ended in a dramatic penalty shootout, to lead Argentina to the country’s third World Cup title.

He is also the first player to win the Golden Ball award twice since it was introduced in 1982 after winning the prize in 2014.

Scaloni said he did not believe that Messi needed to win the World Cup to be considered the greatest of all time.

“I think it wasn’t necessary for Messi to win a World Cup to be one of the greats or the greatest,” he added.

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