Lionel Messi ‘could easily play in the 2026 World Cup,’ claims Argentina FA president Claudio Tapia as the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner ‘always goes for more’
- Lionel Messi, 36, insisted that he has no plans to play in the 2026 World Cup
- But Claudio Tapia said he could see the star at the North America tournament
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Lionel Messi could make a surprise appearance at the 2026 World Cup, Argentina FA president Claudio Tapia claimed.
Inter Miami is without its star as he links up with the Argentina national team for its World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Bolivia this week after its triumph in Qatar last year.
However, while he may be helping his country reach the 2026 World Cup, Messi has already insisted he won’t be on the field at the next tournament in the US, Canada and Mexico.
But Tapia hasn’t given up hope that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner could captain the Albiceleste at a World Cup again.
Despite Messi cooling expectations that he could help Argentina repeat its World Cup success in 2026, when he will be 39, Tapia claimed the soccer star could replicate Luka Modric‘s success with Croatia.
Lionel Messi (L) could play at 2026 World Cup, Argentina FA president Claudio Tapia (R) said
‘He always goes for more,’ Tapia told Sports Summit Leaders, Goal. ‘He never leaves you. He always surprises you, he goes for more. You can imagine it. How can I not imagine it? I would like him to be there. With the conditions he has, he could easily play in the 2026 World Cup.
‘Modric does it for his team, [Andres] Iniesta did it for Barcelona. It depends on him, on what he feels. I see him playing in the World Cup, playing in the position he wants. He can really do it. It will depend on what he wants. I dream about that.’
Messi provided seven goals and three assists as Argentina clinched the third World Cup title in their history last winter.
Many have suggested that their success in December last year could effect the Ballon d’Or voting later this year – with Messi tipped to claim the title.
36-year-old Messi linked up with the Argentina team this week ahead of World Cup qualifiers
Tapia insisted he had a good relationship with the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner
His success with the national team could be attributed to his relationship with his teammates and staff, which Tapia seemingly hopes could convince him to stick around.
‘He is happy with the national team, coming to the facility,’ Tapia added. ‘He is very happy with the group of teammates, with the coaching staff. I am fortunate to have the relationship I have with him. It is a relationship of affection.’
With Messi now plying his trade in the US since his move to David Beckham’s side Inter Miami, the idea of him playing the World Cup in North America isn’t wholly inconceivable.
He has quickly settled into life Stateside, taking US soccer by storm. He has scored 11 times in ten appearances, en route to lifting his first piece of silverware with the Herons in the form of the inaugural Leagues Cup.