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SPORTS | 13-06-2023 13:57

Lionel Messi says triumphant 2022 World Cup was probably his last for Argentina

Albiceleste skipper reveals that Argentina's triumph in Qatar was likely his World Cup with the national team, declaring: "I don't think I will be around for the next."

Lionel Messi on Tuesday confirmed he "doesn't think" he will play at another World Cup in an interview with a Chinese media outlet, after the 35-year-old led Argentina to victory at last year's tournament in Qatar.

"I have said several times before that I don't think so, that that [2022] was my last World Cup," he said when asked by China's Titan Sports in a video interview if he might feature at the upcoming 2026 tournament in North America.

He added, "After achieving the World Cup that was missing, I am satisfied and grateful for the career I've had. That is the most important thing for me."

"I will see how things go but in theory I don't think I will be around for the next World Cup," he added in Spanish in the video published on the Kuaishou app.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner is currently in Beijing where the Albiceleste will play a friendly against Australia on Thursday.

His comments come after he said earlier this year to Argentine newspaper Olé that it would be "very difficult" to play at another World Cup.

'La Pulga' will turn 39 during the next tournament.

Messi last week announced he would join MLS side Inter Miami after his two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain came to an end.

 

Messi absent for Argentina's match against Indonesia 

Argentina will play Thursday's friendly against Australia at the 68,000-capacity Workers' Stadium in Beijing.

The match is a repeat of the last-16 tie between the teams at the World Cup in Doha, which Argentina won 2-1.

With Chinese fans desperate to see the former Barcelona star in action, tickets have been rapidly snapped up despite being sold at prices rising to 4,800 Yuan (US$671).

Messi will be in the starting line-up for the first match, which will be played in China on Thursday at 9am local time, but he will skip the second friendly of the Asian tour against Indonesia in Jakarta next Monday.

In this way, the Rosario native will have several days of rest before joining up Inter Miami in the United States once his contract with the MLS side has been formalised.


Awaits Julián Álvarez's squad inclusion

During the team's stay in Beijing, which has caused a stir in China, coach Lionel Scaloni has been able to count on a full squad of players, bar one – Julián Álvarez has yet to join up with the Albiceleste after his triumph in the UEFA Champions League with Manchester City.

 

– TIMES/AFP/NA

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