Lionel Messi Argentina Croatia 2022 World CupGetty

Argentina squad pushing for Messi to play at 2026 World Cup, reveals Mac Allister

  • Albiceleste claimed global crown in Qatar
  • Iconic skipper completed medal collection
  • Has vowed to extend international career

WHAT HAPPENED? The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner suggested that the 2022 finals in Qatar would be his last but, after claiming global glory in the Middle East, he has vowed to shelve any international retirement plans for now. Messi may decide to defend football’s most prestigious prize when FIFA’s flagship event heads to the United States, Mexico and Canada in 2026, with Mac Allister eager to see the iconic 35-year-old line up for his country at more major tournaments.

WHAT THEY SAID: Mac Allister has said of Messi’s future: “We don’t want him to leave the national team. He said he was going to be his last World Cup but we don’t want that. We want him to stay with us. He knows it. So let’s see what happens. He sent a message to us yesterday, wishing us a very good year. He was very grateful to us. After the game we couldn’t speak too much because we wanted to celebrate. I think we still don’t realise what we achieved, but in the next five or 10 years we will.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Brighton midfielder Mac Allister added on playing alongside Messi as the all-time great completed his medal collection in Qatar and emulated the efforts of Pele and Diego Maradona by becoming a World Cup winner: “He deserves it. It was the only trophy he was missing and now he has it. I’m really glad to be part of this, to help him and the team to get that trophy. I’m really happy for him, [Angel] Di Maria as well, because they are two players who fought a lot in the last couple of years to get that trophy and to play for our country.”

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Lionel Messi ArgentinaGetty Images

Alexis Mac Allister Argentina 2022Getty Images

WHAT NEXT? Messi has taken in 172 appearances for Argentina, scoring 98 goals, and made more history at the 2022 World Cup as – after finding the target on seven occasions, including in every knockout round – he claimed a record-setting second Golden Ball at the end of a tournament he illuminated.