Buenos Aires, Sep 6: Lionel Messi could continue playing for Argentina until the 2026 World Cup, the country's top football official said.
Messi has previously ruled out the prospect of extending his international career until the next edition of football's showpiece tournament but he could be convinced to change his mind, according to Argentine Football Association president Claudio Tapia, Xinhua reports.
"He always aims for more. He never gives up and always surprises you," Tapia said during a sports leaders summit in Buenos Aires. "It's something I've thought about. How could I not? I would like him to be there. In his current form, Messi can easily play at the 2026 World Cup."
Messi, who guided the Albiceleste to their third World Cup trophy in Qatar last year, will be 39 when the tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico ends.
But the former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain forward has shown no signs of declining. Since joining Inter Miami as a free agent in mid-July, the 36-year-old has scored 11 goals in as many matches and provided five assists.
He led the Florida outfit to the Leagues Cup title last month - the club's first trophy - and has given them an outside chance of qualifying for the Major League Soccer playoffs despite still sitting in 14th place in the Eastern Conference.
Tapia said Messi deserved the right to choose when to end his international career. "It depends on him and what he wants. I see him playing in the next World Cup. He can really do it if he wants to." (IANS)