In a recent interview in Argentina, Lionel Messi, reflecting on his potential participation in the 2026 World Cup, referred to Major League Soccer (MLS) as a lesser league. He contemplated the possibility that playing in a less prominent league might extend his international career, emphasizing the importance of facing challenges and competition positively.
Messi clarified in the interview that his comments were not intended to criticize MLS. He showcased his dedication to Inter Miami by participating in 11 matches over 44 days last season. Despite his commitment, Messi faced challenges, including fatigue, leading to his absence from crucial MLS games. The impact of his absence was evident, with disappointed fans receiving partial ticket refunds.
“I am also aware that I went to a minor league,” Messi said to Star+. “But a lot happens because of the way one faces it and competes.”
“As long as I feel that I’m fine and can continue contributing, I’m going to do it,” he continued. “Today, the only thing I think about is getting to the Copa America well and being able to compete in it.”
While Messi has always prioritized his national team, especially after winning the Copa America in 2021, his recent World Cup victory has fueled his desire to continue competing. Despite initial rumors of considering retirement, Messi expressed renewed vigor for continued involvement with the team, stating his love for the national team and the dream of playing as a world champion.
“As long as I feel good and I can continue to deliver, I’m going to (continue playing with Argentina). All I’m thinking about today is getting to the Copa América and being able to play in it,” he said.
In another interview, Messi acknowledged that he is aware of the level of competition in MLS and referred to it as a “minor league.” However, he expressed his commitment to competing at the highest level and emphasized his awareness of when he can perform at his best. Messi’s arrival in MLS was highly anticipated, and he lived up to expectations, scoring 11 goals in 14 games and boosting interest in Inter Miami.
Despite injuries impacting his performance at times, Messi’s focus is on helping Argentina defend its 2021 Copa America title. He mentioned that, as long as he feels good and can contribute, he plans to continue playing for Argentina. While he didn’t rule out participating in the 2026 World Cup, he acknowledged that his age (39) might be a factor in determining his eligibility for the tournament.
“Then time will tell whether I’ll be at the World Cup or not,” Messi said. “I’m going to be at an age (39) that normally doesn’t allow me to play in the World Cup.”