Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni ‘saving a spot’ for Lionel Messi at next World Cup squad

Lionel Scaloni has told Lionel Messi that if he wants to carry on playing international football, there will be a place for him in Argentina’s squad when they defend the World Cup in the 2026 tournament.

Messi had said the 2022 final would be his final World Cup match but manager Scaloni said it is up to him if he plays at 39 in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Messi finally won the World Cup at the fifth time of asking in Argentina’s penalty shootout victory over France, in which he converted their first spot kick.

He scored two goals in the game, helping him to win the Golden Ball as player of the tournament and was named player of the match in both the semi-final and the final.

Messi has scored 98 goals in 172 caps for Argentina, both national records, since debuting in 2005 and, after a long wait to lift a major international trophy, also captained them in the Copa America triumph in 2021.

And Scaloni said: “We need to save him for the World Cup, if he wants to keep playing he will be with us. He is more than entitled to decide if he wants to keep playing and what he wants to do with his career.

“It is such a huge pleasure to coach him. Everything he transmits to his teammates is something unparalleled I have never seen before.”

Messi himself said he won’t retire from international football just yet, telling TyC: “I won the Copa America and the World Cup in a short time. I love what I do, being in the national team, and I want to continue living a few more games being world champion.”

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