Will Lionel Messi participate in the 2026 World Cup at 39? Argentine legend provides insight on his future

The FIFA World Cup is one of the biggest football tournaments to exist. Countries all over the world compete against each other to qualify for this tournament. The 2022 FIFA World Cup took place in Qatar, where Argentine legend Lionel Messi led his team to victory, beating former champion France in a penalty shootout.

The World Cup victory completed Lionel Messi’s career. It was the last piece of the puzzle he was missing, and with that in place, the winger’s career came to a beautiful end. Though Leo said that this would be his last World Cup, his recent statement has hinted that he might not be done yet.

Will Lionel Messi participate in the 2026 World Cup?

The last year was one of the best of Lionel Messi’s career. The G.O.A.T. proved himself to be the best by beating the new generation’s star, Kylian Mbappe. The Frenchman did everything for his country but, in the end, was unable to outshine Leo, who lifted the trophy ultimatley. Fans were happy for their favorite player and expected him to retire from international tournaments after his iconic victory.

In a recent interview with Argentine media personality Miguel Garrados, Lionel Messi talked about being at the next FIFA World Cup. “I don’t know if I will get there; I don’t think about it yet because it is far away,” he said. The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner said it depends on how he feels after the Copa America. “After the Copa America, we’ll see; it will depend on how I feel,” he said. “There are still three years left.” Lionel Messi will be 39 years old in 2026, so it is unlikely we will see him playing for Argentina by that time, but it could still happen.

Details on the 2026 World Cup

Fans all across the world are used to seeing 32 teams in the World Cup, but it was not always like that. The FIFA World Cup format has changed on several occasions; it started out with only 13 teams in the first edition back in 1930. From there, it kept on increasing, and the 32-team format was finally introduced at the 1998 World Cup. The 2026 World Cup tournament will feature not 32 but 48 teams. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that this would increase investment in football.

Lionel Messi
Credits: InsidetheGames

The 48 teams that will qualify for the competition will be divided into 12 groups of four. The top two teams from each group plus the eight best third-placed teams will advance to the round of 32. Since there are more teams, there will be more matches as well. The 2022 World Cup saw 64 matches, but the new format will feature 104 games. Due to the increase in the number of participants, the 2026 World Cup will be held by not one, not two, but three different countries.

North American countries—the United States, Canada, and Mexico—will be hosting the next World Cup. The tournament is set to begin on June 11, 2026, and will come to a close on July 19, 2026. Though three hosts may sound weird to some fans it is still less than the 2030 World Cup which will see six hosts.

Do you think Leo Messi will be able to participate in the 2026 World Cup in finest form? Make sure to let us know in the comments.


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