It is almost certain that Russia 2018 will be Lionel Messi’s last World Cup
He has hinted that he could walk away from international football after this summer’s World Cup, with how Argentina fare in the tournament likely to dictate whether the five-time Ballon d’Or winner decides to continue.
Barça colleague Gerard Pique has already made clear his intention to retire from international duty with Spain after the World Cup.
A host of Argentina’s ageing squad – La Albiceleste have an average age of 29 and will be the oldest in Russia – may also do the same.
For Messi it is not so clear cut and it remains to be seen whether failure to lift the trophy would prompt him to quit, or if glory would prompt him to go out on the ultimate high.
“It will depend how we do, how it ends,” he told Catalan publication Sport.
“The fact we’ve lost three finals now has led to some complicated moments with the Argentine press due to the differences in seeing what it means to reach a final,” he said.
“It is not easy and [reaching three finals] has to be appreciated. It’s true that winning them is important, but getting there is not easy.”
Messi, who will hit his 31st birthday between Argentina’s second and third group games against Croatia and Nigeria respectively, has already flirted with international once before, temporarily quitting the team as a kneejerk reaction to losing the 2016 Copa America Centenario final.
Messi has won 32 trophies with Barcelona to date and recently admitted that he would trade in some of his immense club success if he could taste international glory with Argentina.
However, the Rosario-born hero has also recently stressed that World Cup success has not become an obsession for him because that only leads to increased pressure and expectation.