Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni has urged fans to ‘enjoy’ Lionel Messi while he is still playing, following the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner hinting at international retirement after the World Cup.
Messi is set for his 160th appearance for Argentina and finally broke his long wait for an international trophy last year with glory in the Copa America – he had previously announced his retirement in 2016 in the wake of losing the 2016 Copa America final but reversed the decision.
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar in November will be his fifth. Messi will be 35 by then and there is a chance it could signal the end of international career altogether.
“After the World Cup I'm going to have to rethink many things, depending on whether it goes well or badly. Let's hope it goes in the best way,” Messi said on Friday following the win over Venezuela.
“I've been happy here for a long time, since before I won the Copa America. People show me that they love me and I'm grateful. Everything flows naturally, it's easier on and off the pitch.”
Speaking ahead of Argentina’s final World Cup qualifier against Ecuador – their place in Qatar has been secure for some time already – Scaloni suggested it is only natural for players to consider things at the end of each tournament cycle.
“After playing in a World Cup, everyone makes assessments. I'm not in the heads of the players to know what they're thinking,” he said.
“In any case, you have to enjoy it. You don't have to think about the future, enjoy their spectacular present. Sometimes, because that's life, one gets old and I think that's normal.
“But why not think about the spectacular here and now? Why not enjoy him now? It's useless thinking about what is going to happen after the World Cup.”