Lionel Messi said in an interview with Chinese media on Tuesday that he “doesn’t think” he would compete in another World Cup after leading Argentina to victory in Qatar last year.
“I have said several times before that I don’t think so, that (2022) was my last World Cup,” he remarked in a video interview with China’s Titan Sports when asked if he may play in the 2026 event in North America.
“I’ll see how things go, but in theory, I don’t think I’ll be around for the next World Cup,” he said in Spanish in a video posted on the Kuaishou app.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is presently in Beijing, where Argentina will face Australia in a friendly on Thursday.
His remarks come after he told the Argentine daily Ole earlier this year that it would be “very difficult” for him to play in another World Cup.
During the upcoming event, he will be 39 years old.
Messi stated last week that he will join MLS club Inter Miami after his two-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain expired.
Argentina will face Australia in a friendly on Thursday at Beijing’s Workers’ Stadium, which seats 68,000 people.
The game is a rematch of the sides’ World Cup last-16 contest in Doha, which Argentina won 2-1.
Tickets have been quickly snatched up by Chinese fans keen to watch the former Barcelona player in action, despite costs jumping to 4,800 Yuan ($671).