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Lionel Messi: ‘Qatar World Cup will be my last with Argentina’

Lionel Messi: ‘Qatar World Cup will be my last with Argentina’

Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi has revealed that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be his last with Argentina.

The 35-year-old is widely regarded as the best footballer of all time and has won a plethora of trophies and individual accolades at club level during his remarkable 18-year professional career.

Messi finally got his hands on his first piece of silverware at international level when Argentina beat South American rivals Brazil in the 2021 Copa America final.

However, one trophy which still illudes the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is the World Cup, with his best result coming in 2014 when Argentina lost 1-0 after extra time to Germany in the final.

Messi has received a total of 164 international caps for La Albiceleste, scoring 90 goals in the process, but the legendary forward believes the Qatar World Cup will be his fifth and final appearance on the world’s biggest stage.

© Reuters

Speaking to Sebastian Vignolo during an interview for Star+, Messi said: “This will be my last World Cup – for sure. The decision has been made.

“I’m counting down the days until the World Cup. The truth is, there is a little anxiety of wanting it to be now and the nerves of saying: ‘Well, we’re here, what’s going to happen? It’s my last one, how’s it going to go? On one hand, I can’t wait for it to arrive but I’m also desperate for it to go well.”

Messi initially announced his international retirement back in 2016 after Argentina lost to Chile in the Copa America final, but he eventually reversed his decision and remains the nation’s leader in attack.

The former Barcelona man is hoping to finish on a high and enjoy a successful tournament in Qatar, but he has played down suggestions that Argentina are one of the favourites to go all the way.

“We’re at a very good moment, with a very strong group, but anything can happen at a World Cup,” Messi added.

“All the matches are difficult, that is what makes a World Cup so special because the favourites are not always the ones who end up winning or even doing as well as you expect.

Lionel Messi in action for Argentina on September 23, 2022© Reuters

“I don’t know if we are the favourites, but Argentina in itself is always a candidate for history, for what it means. We are not the favourites, I think there are other teams that are above us.”

Messi has made a total of 19 appearances at the World Cup, including his first back in 2006 and his most recent in 2018, scoring six goals and providing five assists.

Argentina – who will face Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland in Group C of this year’s tournament – were knocked out in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while the last time they won the competition was back in 1986 when Diego Maradona captained the nation to glory in Mexico.

It remains to be seen whether Messi will retire from international football altogether after this year’s World Cup, while his future at club level with PSG is also up in the air, with his contract set to expire next summer.

A recent report claims that the forward would be open to re-joining Barcelona ahead of the 2023-24 campaign, although it is thought that PSG are keen to tie him down to a new contract.

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