Messi won't quit Argentina if World Cup eludes him again

Lionel Messi Russia Argentina
The Barcelona superstar has vowed to remain part of the Albiceleste squad regardless of what happens in Russia, having regretted a past retirement

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has vowed to remain part of the Argentina set-up regardless of how they fare at World Cup 2018 in Russia.

The 30-year-old has enjoyed a trophy-laden career at club level, with countless major honours complemented by five Ballons d’Or.

He is, however, still waiting on a first senior international prize, with heartache endured in the 2014 World Cup final and three Copa America showpieces.

Messi has had to shoulder the expectation of a nation for much of his career and has shown signs of buckling at times.

He went as far as announcing his international retirement on the back of a penalty shoot-out defeat to Chile at the 2016 Copa America, only to then reverse that decision.

There is a determination on his part to end the long wait for honours with Argentina this summer, but Messi insists he will not be quitting again if he fails to complete his collection of medals.

He told TyC Sports: “If we do not win the World Cup, I will continue in the national team.”

Messi added, having admitted to regretting his decision to walk away in 2016: "After saying that I thought it was not the right thing to do, it would be giving the wrong message to all the youth and all the people who fight for their dreams. Keep trying and keep fighting for what you want.” 

Argentina are expected to be among the challengers for global glory in Russia, with Jorge Sampaoli boasting a wealth of attacking options at his disposal.

Messi will lead the charge, but Argentina will be also be able to choose from the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Mauro Icardi, Paulo Dybala and Angel Di Maria.

Going one better than they managed in 2014 is the ultimate target for all concerned, but there will be no bold pre-tournament predictions.

Instead, Messi believes reaching the semi-finals would be considered a success, with anything beyond that a bonus.

He added: “To make a good World Cup is to be among the first four.

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“Argentina deserves to be there because of the history it has.

"Although it require a lot of hard work to get to that point, I think we have to be there again."

Argentina will open their World Cup 2018 campaign against Iceland on June 16 before going on to face Croatia and Nigeria in Group D.