Messi confirms retirement from World Cup

Rosario, The Gulf Observer: Soon-to-be Inter Miami star Lionel Messi has confirmed that he will not play at the next World Cup – set to be held in the US, Canada and Mexico in 2026 – to Chinese media outlet Titan Sports.

According to Forbes, Messi finally got his hands on the only major piece of silverware that had alluded him in his illustrious career when leading his country all the way at Qatar 2022.

Captaining La Albiceleste to a dramatic penalty shootout over previous holders France led to many fans concluding that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner had “completed football”.

At the age of 35 then, Messi has decided to bow out on top in the FIFA international tournament as he confirmed on Tuesday.

“I think not,” Messi answered, when asked about the possibility of featuring in 2026.

“This was my last World Cup. I will see how things go, but in principle no, I will not go to the next World Cup,” he added.

Messi explained that he would “like to be there to watch” the competition in 2026 but that he is “not going to participate”.

This could be easily arranged given that Messi will probably still be living in Miami if everything goes to plan in the MLS. The Miami Herald reported that Messi will sign a two-and-a-half year contract with David Beckham co-owned franchise Inter, which comes with an option to extend until 2026.

Despite a decision not to feature at the next World Cup on the cusp of his 38th birthday, Messi looks set to help Argentina defend their Copa America crown at the next edition of the tournament which will also be held on American soil in the summer of 2024.

As with the World Cup, in which he lost the 2014 final to Germany, Messi suffered several setbacks at the Copa America by falling at the last hurdle three times ahead of making it fourth time lucky at the Maracana against champions Brazil in 2021.

Once he retires from the Argentina fold permanently, Messi will do so as the national team’s all-time goals and appearances leader after winning his maiden cap in 2005 as an emerging FC Barcelona talent.