Lionel Messi Doesn't Rule Out 2026 World Cup; Says Age Would Make Playing 'Difficult'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIFebruary 3, 2023

LUSAIL, QATAR - 2022/12/18: Lionel Messi (Argentina) celebrates a goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium. Final score: Argentina 3:3 (penalty 4:2) France. (Photo by Grzegorz Wajda/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Grzegorz Wajda/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Lionel Messi said in a recent interview that he's open to playing in the 2026 World Cup but age may ultimately prevent him from doing so.

The 35-year-old made the remarks to Argentine daily sports newspaper Diario Olé (h/t ESPN).

"Because of age it'll be difficult to make 2026," Messi said.

"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."

Messi previously said that 2022 would mark his last-ever World Cup, but it appears he's at least open to the idea of playing in the next one based on his latest comments.

The next World Cup will take place in 2026 from June 3 to July 8 in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Messi would turn 39 years old during the tournament.

It's hard to know where Messi will be in three-plus years, but he's certainly still in top form right now in his mid-30s. He just led Argentina to the 2022 World Cup title thanks to seven goals, including two in the final against France.

Messi has also dominated Ligue 1 play this year for Paris Saint-Germain, amassing nine goals and 10 assists in 17 starts.