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“I Won’t Go to the Next World Cup”: Leo Messi Won’t Defend Title With Argentina
- Lionel Messi has confirmed he will not be part of Argentina’s squad for the 2026 World Cup
- The six-time Ballon d’Or winner captained his country to the global title in Qatar last year
- The 2026 edition of the World Cup will be hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico
Lionel Messi has claimed he will not play at the 2026 World Cup with Argentina when La Albiceleste try to defend the title they won in Qatar last December.
The 35-year-old forward guided his country to its third World Cup title in their history, and their first in 35 years since Diego Maradona won the trophy in 1986 for the South American nation.
According to Goal, Messi - who will be 39 years old when the 2026 World Cup comes around - has claimed the 2022 World Cup was his last with Argentina as he intends to play no part in their title defence.
“I think not. This was my last World Cup. I'll see how things go, but not in principle, I won't go to the next World Cup.”
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.
Messi makes Ballon d’Or claim
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.
Updated Ballon d’Or 2023 rankings
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Earlier, Sports Brief reported that captaining his country, starring at the World Cup at 35 years, and finally winning the trophy that eluded him saw Messi complete a romantic football moment.
After the Qatar triumph, it looked like he was a stroll for his record eighth Ballon d'Or title, only for Haaland's heroics in that Manchester City super team to turn an argument into a debate.
Apart from claiming the FIFA World Cup title last year, the veteran Argentine has also scored 38 times and provided 25 assists in all competitions, solidifying his chances of yet another award.