European Headlines

Know what you don't know

Football legend from Argentina: “Off camera he told me” According to Jorge Valdano, Lionel Messi has a new World Cup retirement strategy.

FIFA World Cup-winning Argentine forward Jorge Valdano has indicated that Lionel Messi could end up playing in the 2026 World Cup.

Ahead of and during this year’s FIFA World Cup, Messi maintained that the event in Qatar would mark his last appearance in the competition. He reiterated that after Argentina lifted the famous trophy by beating France on penalties in the final, a match for the ages, on December 18.

However, Valdano has revealed that Messi told him prior to the tournament that he could target the 2026 FIFA World Cup if he emerged victorious in Qatar. The 1986 World Cup winner told Cadena COPE (as quoted by the Mirror):

“When I interviewed him before the World Cup, off camera he told me that he was going to play in his fifth World Cup and that no footballer had played six; he told me that it was impossible, and he told me ‘If I’m a World Champion, I’ll keep my shirt on until the next World Cup.’

Valdano added:

“We will see if Messi is capable. Football has shown that it is practically impossible to play in six World Cups.”

Argentina football icon Jorge Valdano has claimed Lionel Messi informed him ahead of the World Cup that he would return for the 2026 edition should the nation win this year.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Guillermo Ochoa and Andres Guardado all played in the fifth World Cup of their careers this year. While Messi, 35, went on to lift the title, Ronaldo, 37, fell in the quarterfinals. Mexicans Ochoa, also 37, and Guardado, 36, didn’t make it past the group stages.

La Pulga will be 39 by the time the 2026 World Cup commences, so it remains to be seen if he will be in a position to take part in the tournament.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni indicates desire to see Lionel Messi at 2026 FIFA World Cup

While Lionel Messi stated that the recently concluded tournament will be his last FIFA World Cup, Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni felt otherwise. Scaloni indicated that a spot will be open for Messi should he decide to play in the 2026 edition of the tournament.

The former footballer said after La Albiceleste‘s win over France (as quoted by Football Espana):

“It is necessary to save a place for him [Lionel Messi] at the next World Cup. There are 26 places available. He’s earnt the right to be able to decide what to do with his football career and in this Argentina team.

“It’s a pleasure to train him and his teammates. What he transmits to his teammates is something I’ve never seen before.”

Messi and Scaloni and bringing the World Cup trophy back home 🏆🇦🇷

View image on Twitter

Lionel Scaloni has brought out arguably the best version of Lionel Messi in an Argentina jersey during his stint at the helm of the team. In 44 matches under Scaloni, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored 33 goals and laid out 13 assists.

To read more news, click here.