Argentina captain Lionel Messi declared on Tuesday that he will not participate in the 2026 World Cup.
Messi, 35, guided Argentina to victory in his sixth World Cup appearance last year in Qatar.
Despite Messi’s repeated declarations that the competition would be his last, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, his players, and supporters continued to hold out hope that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner would play in the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
When questioned about the 2026 World Cup, Messi told the Chinese sports publication Titan Sports, according to an Efe News Agency report: “I guess not. It was my final World Cup in Qatar. I’ll wait and see how things pan out, but as of today, I won’t be attending the next World Cup.”
Argentina’s next friendly against Australia on Thursday and Indonesia four days later will be played while Messi is on international duty with Argentina in China.
The former Barcelona great revealed last week that he would be joining Inter Miami CF in Major League Soccer when his deal with Paris Saint-Germain expires on June 30.
To finally win the one major trophy that had escaped him throughout his career, Messi had a standout performance at the tournament in Qatar.
Messi scored seven goals in seven games to become the first player since the round of 16’s introduction in 1986 to score in each round of the same World Cup.
He helped Argentina win its third World Cup title with two goals in the thrilling penalty shootout against France.
In addition, he made history by being the only player since the award’s introduction in 1982 to win it twice (his first triumph came in 2014).