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Messi vows to maintain good form before 2026 World Cup

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Beijing: Lionel Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, hinted at the possibility of extending his international career until 2026.

In a live broadcast interview on Wednesday, Messi expressed his intention to maintain his exceptional form on a daily basis.

The reigning world champions, Argentina, are scheduled to play a friendly match against Australia at the Workers’ Stadium in Beijing on Thursday night. This match marks the first time Messi and his teammates will play together abroad since their victory over France in the final of the Qatar World Cup, achieved through a penalty shootout.

Messi, who will turn 36 later this month, has accumulated almost all the accolades in football following his remarkable journey in Qatar. However, he will be 39 years old by the time the 2026 World Cup takes place, which will be co-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

“There are still many years ahead until the 2026 World Cup, and my current objective is to sustain my optimal form every day,” Messi affirmed.

Nonetheless, the captain of the Albiceleste recently stated that, in principle, he would not be participating in the upcoming World Cup.

Messi’s seventh visit to China has been somewhat different from his previous ones. Over the past few days, a large number of fans have gathered around the hotel and training ground. Due to security concerns, the organizers have been forced to cancel the majority of Messi’s commercial activities.

Reflecting on his gold medal won at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Messi revealed that, at that time, he had limited knowledge of Beijing and China and spent most of his time in hotels. “Nevertheless, that memory remains beautiful. Argentina had endured a prolonged championship drought, and finally, in Beijing, we emerged triumphant. I felt the passion and enthusiasm of the Chinese fans,” added Messi.

Diego Maradona, the legendary Argentine footballer who passed away in 2020, had previously coached the Argentina national team during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

However, Messi does not appear to have a strong inclination towards coaching. “Currently, I have no plans to become a coach, and naturally, nobody knows what the future holds. Retirement is still some time away,” Messi noted.

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