Lionel Messi is 35 years old. Qatar 2022 will be his fifth World Cup. So the question of whether this will be his last big tournament with his national team, much less his last World Cup, is not just about creating drama. But that doesn’t mean Messi has a clear answer, at least one he’s willing to disclose at this point.
The question was presented to him at the end of Sean Eternos: Campeones de América, the documentary which chronicled Argentina’s 2021 Copa América win – the first national team title for Argentina in 28 years. As the credits roll, Messi admits that yes, he dreams of winning a World Cup, emphasizing that, at this stage of his career, that’s the only thing he’s missing.
“Si, sueño con ganar un Mundial. A esta altura, me queda eso nomás,” he says, and just before the camera turns black, the documentary sets the stage for what’s next, as the interviewer asks Messi point blank if the upcoming World Cup will be his last. But we don’t get a response. Messi just smiles at the camera, scratches his head, and seems to consider an answer he never gives.
The smart money is still on yes, no matter what happens with Argentina in Qatar 2022. But with Messi at the top of his game, even at 35, and the recent examples of other top players playing well beyond the ages that were considered normal retirement ages in other sports – from Rafael Nada to Tom Brady – it’s hard to have a definite answer. Especially if Messi doesn’t have one.
One thing is for sure, for now, he’d love to not have to think about a possible 2026 World Cup and focus on the 2022 one, particularly with Argentina coming off that big Copa América win and looking like serious contenders for a title that would make Lionel Messi’s career feel complete.