Lionel Messi ‘WILL captain Argentina at next World Cup’ as 1986 winner claims star told him privately of retirement plan

LIONEL MESSI is NOT retiring from international football and he will play at the next World Cup, claims former Argentina star Jorge Valdano.

There has been much speculation about the 35-year-old’s future after he won the World Cup in dramatic fashion versus France.

GettyLionel Messi is not ending his international career yet[/caption]

Getty – ContributorJorge Valdano claims Lionel Messi is hoping to play in 2026[/caption]

There was talk before the final that it was going to be Messi’s final match in the famous blue and white kit, however, he looks to have reversed that decision.

Valdano, who won the World Cup alongside Diego Maradona in 1986 for Argentina, says he has spoken to Messi and he will captain the side at the next tournament.

Valdano told Cadena Cope: “When I interviewed him before the World Cup, off camera he told me that he was going to play in his fifth World Cup and that no footballer had played six.

“He told me that it was impossible, and he told me ‘if I’m a world champion I’ll keep my shirt on until the next World Cup.’

“We will see if Messi is capable. Football has shown that it is practically impossible to play in six World Cups.”

If Messi is to defend his crown then he will have to continue playing at the highest level for another four years before making the trip to host nations Canada, USA and Mexico.

Messi will celebrate his 39th birthday during the tournament.

Prior to the competition in Qatar began, Messi said, via AS: “I love playing it [football] and I enjoy it, the only thing I’ve done all my life is play football.

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“I don’t think I’m going to play much more. This will be my last World Cup — for sure. The decision has been made.”

But Messi shot down his own comments hinting at coming back for more after finally getting his hands on the famous trophy.

He told TyC Sports after the final: “I am not retiring from the Argentina national team.

“I want to continue playing as a champion.

“We suffer, but we already have it [the World Cup].

 “I wanted to close my career with this, I can no longer ask for anything else, thank God, he gave me everything.”

Before Lionel Scaloni‘s men go to retain the World Cup in 2026, they have the Copa America to defend in 2024.

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