Copa America Key to Messi’s Hopes of Appearing at 2026 World Cup
Lionel Messi finally lifted the one major trophy missing from his illustrious career when he led Argentina to World Cup glory in 2022. The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner was named player of the tournament after scoring or assisting 10 goals across 7 games, leading many to declare he had now ‘completed football’.
Initial Reluctance to Play in 2026 Replaced by Hope
After joining MLS club Inter Miami in June, Messi insisted he had no intention of playing at the 2026 finals in the USA, Canada, and Mexico. However, he has relaxed this stance after being questioned recently by Migue Granados. Messi revealed, “I don’t know if I will reach it. I’m not thinking about it yet because it’s far away, but I’m thinking about Copa America. The goal is to arrive in good shape for Copa America in the United States.”
Defending Copa America Crown Seen as Key
The 2024 Copa America will begin on June 20 in the USA, with Argentina looking to retain the title they won in Brazil in 2021. Argentine full-back Nicolas Tagliafico believes winning that tournament could spur Messi into targeting one more World Cup, saying, “If we had not won the World Cup in Qatar, he would have left. But he won it, and he wants to enjoy these months. If we win the Copa America, he will want to continue.”
On Track to Qualify for the North American Finals
Argentina have won all four of their opening CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers, putting them well on the road to Canada, the USA, and Mexico 2026. Messi will rejoin the national team shortly for clashes with Uruguay and Brazil after completing his debut MLS season.
What Now for Messi After International Duty?
Following the November international break, where Messi will hope for maximum points, he can look forward to some downtime in America. Inter Miami don’t play again until February, with a pre-season friendly penciled in against Messi’s boyhood team, Newell’s Old Boys.