Lionel Messi will be appearing at his fourth World Cup in 2018. But will it be his final appearance for Argentina at the premier international tournament?
Lionel Messi has been arguably the best player in the world for at least a decade. But despite his fabulous form for Barcelona, he hasn’t done particularly well with Argentina at the World Cup. Could this summer’s tournament in Russia see Messi’s final appearance on the very highest global stage?
It has to be a distinct possibility. Although Messi only turns 31 in June, the amount of soccer he has played is simply mind boggling. As Indiana Jones would say, “it’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”
Argentina’s talisman has made over 750 appearances for club and country over the years. Even allowing for some shorter appearances within that, Messi has clocked up over 60,000 minutes of soccer. That equates to over 680 full matches, or almost 18 complete league campaigns.
As for the World Cup itself, Messi has 15 appearances across the last three tournaments under his belt. His tally of five goals and five assists from those games would be impressive for most players. The man from Rosario is definitely not most players.
Perhaps if Argentina can lift the trophy this summer, the Barcelona legend might think it the perfect time to retire from international soccer. The bookmakers rate them as the team fifth most likely to win the World Cup, so it’s certainly a real possibility.
They also took the runners-up spot last time out. Argentina reached the quarterfinals in Germany in 2006 and South Africa in 2010, before getting to the final in Brazil in 2014. However, they lost to Germany after extra time, and Messi failed to score in any of their four knockout matches.
If he can have a great tournament and power Argentina to victory, this could very well be Lionel Messi’s final World Cup.