Argentinian football icon Lionel Messi has disclosed plans to step back from the next edition of the World Cup. Scheduled to take place in Mexico, the United States, and Canada in 2026, the World Cup will go ahead without the celebrated Argentine, who announced his decision during an interview with Chinese sports media outlet Titan Sports on Tuesday.
Messi, who’s currently contracted with Paris Saint-Germain, is set to transition to Inter Miami, with his current contract concluding at the end of this month. “I don’t foresee participating in the next World Cup,” Messi revealed to Titan Sports. “We’ll see how things pan out, but presently, I don’t intend to play in the 2026 World Cup.”
Having recently played in his fifth World Cup in Qatar, where Argentina triumphed, Messi has had a decorated history in previous tournaments, competing in 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018. However, the Qatari championship marked his first time securing the trophy. His closest previous attempt was in 2014, when Argentina made it to the finals, only to be defeated by Germany.
Presently in China with Argentina’s national team, the reigning world champions, Messi and his compatriots are preparing for their final friendly matches prior to the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. Argentina will go up against Australia in Beijing this Thursday and will subsequently face Indonesia in Jakarta on June 19. The forthcoming match against Australia echoes their previous encounter in the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16, where Argentina clinched a 2-1 victory.
Messi is Argentina’s all-time goal-scorer and has recorded the highest number of appearances for the defending Copa America champions, with 174 caps and 102 goals.
Meanwhile, Messi has revealed winning the Ballon d’Or does not matter to him at this stage of his career when quizzed in a recent interview about the award, Daily Post reports.
The former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain forward, as well as Manchester City striker, Erling Haaland, are among the top contenders to challenge for the 2023 prize.
Messi holds the record for the most Ballon d’Or wins for an individual with six accolades, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, and could extend that feat if he wins the 2023 edition.