At the fifth time of trying, Messi managed to inspire La Albiceleste to World Cup stardom in Qatar, as Lionel Scaloni‘s side won their third title by defeating France on penalties in the final.
Owing to his excellent haul of seven goals and three assists, Messi won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, while also finishing second in the Golden Boot race behind Kylian Mbappe.
The 36-year-old has continued to don the blue and white strip since arriving back from the Middle East as a World Cup winner, which also earned him a second FIFA Best Men’s Player prize and is expected to see him clinch a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or.
Argentina boss Scaloni has repeatedly announced his desire to see Messi compete at the 2026 World Cup, by which time the former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain attacker will be 39 years old.
Messi had previously poured cold water on his chances of representing Argentina at the next edition of the tournament, but speaking to Argentinian comedian Migue Granados on OLGA – via the Daily Mail – the attacker did not immediately rule out the prospect.
However, Messi wants to purely focus on the upcoming Copa America – which takes place in the summer of 2024 – before deciding on his World Cup future, saying: “I’ve already said.
“It still seems a long way away. Yes, my goal is to play in the Copa America, which is also here in the United States and next year. After, we’ll see. It principally depends on how I’m feeling. We’ll have to see about the league here, the level competition. I don’t know.”
Messi’s arrival in MLS has generated significant worldwide interest in the American division heading into the USA World Cup, and the 36-year-old has continued to shine in front of goal for the Herons.
From 12 games in an Inter Miami shirt, Messi has already found the back of the net 11 times, in addition to producing five assists, captaining the Florida outfit to the Leagues Cup crown.
A muscular injury hampered the Argentine earlier this month, and his return to action against Toronto on September 21 was cut short with 37 minutes gone, although his side still ran out 4-0 winners.
Herons head coach Gerardo Martino revealed that Messi’s recent fitness woes are related to old scar tissue, and the attacker is being assessed daily ahead of next week’s US Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo.
Alongside his impressive domestic exploits, Messi has come up with six goals and an assist in four games for Argentina since the World Cup, finding the back of the net in every single one of those fixtures.
The 36-year-old now has 104 goals to show from 176 matches in an Argentina shirt – making him their all-time top scorer and appearance maker – as well as 56 assists in all tournaments.