Lionel Scaloni outlines what is required for Lionel Messi to feature for Argentina at 2026 World Cup

Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2023 by

Lionel Scaloni outlines what is required for Lionel Messi to feature for Argentina at 2026 World Cup

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has discussed what it will take for him to bring Lionel Messi to the 2026 World Cup after winning the trophy in 2022.

WHAT HAPPENED? Three months on from giving the football world a true fairytale ending by managing Argentina to a World Cup crown, head coach Scaloni is already being quizzed about the 2026 tournament, where the Albiceleste will defend their crown in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In particular, he was asked if a certain seven-time Ballon d'Or winner would be able to make the tournament, despite him already being in the autumn of his career.

WHAT THEY SAID: While speaking at a Gala in Italy, via ESPN Colombia, Scaloni was asked about Messi's future with Argentina and if he could make one last World Cup: "Being in the next World Cup will be Leo’s decision; if his body can take it for me, he will be there."

He further explained just how much it meant to lift the esteemed prize: “Behind our title, there was a communion of intentions between the fans, the staff and the players, something emotional that made sense of belonging for this unique shirt even stronger.

“Then, having a player like Messi was, and is, obviously, an advantage. As a former team-mate, training him is beautiful. I see how the other players look at him and follow him. He’s the best.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Many assumed that the 2022 tournament would be Messi's last chance at lifting the World Cup. But at 35 years old, he fulfilled the prophecy and was instrumental as his nation went all the way and won the tournament for the first time since 1986, adding football's biggest prize to his already full trophy cabinet and truly cementing his legacy in the game.

For most, that would be the perfect ending and an even better opportunity to call time on a glittering international career, but Messi has since signalled his intent to continue in the Argentina shirt, playing as a defending champion. While speculation over his Paris Saint-Germain future rumbles on, his commitment to his country appears unbreakable. Scaloni has previously said that Messi would always have his place in the national team setup.

WHAT NEXT FOR MESSI? Before even thinking about the 2026 World Cup, Messi must decide on his future at club level, where he continues to prove incredibly important for PSG.

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