Manchester United star believes Lionel Messi has more to give Argentina


Lionel Messi and Rodrigo De Paul of Argentina laugh during a training session at Florida Blue Training Center on June 5, 2024 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Messi has previously gone on record saying it will be difficult for him to play at the 2026 World Cup, but Martinez is convinced he can do it based on still being the world’s best player.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Martinez said (via ESPN): “He’s very calm, more than anything he’s enjoying the day-to-day. It’s beautiful to be here, we all have a great relationship.

“When one is here, one is very happy. We feel at home, which is important. We don’t see it [as his last tournament with Argentina]. We see him happy, and with an impressive level. That’s what I can tell you.”

Martinez missed a lot of football for United last season but returned to action in the final weeks before making an influential appearance in the FA Cup final win over Man City.

Next season Martinez will aim to avoid injuries and play more matches.

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni hopes to have Messi available for the next World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

“We Argentines are too melancholic,” Scaloni told Telemundo, as cited by ESPN. “We are already thinking about the day when [Messi] is not here while he’s still playing.

“Let’s enjoy him and we’ll see what happens next. I think what he’s doing right now is so important. And for everyone, not only for Argentina, because at the end Leo plays for those who like football. But someday [his retirement] will happen.”

Messi, who finally won the World Cup in Qatar, also captained the side to Copa America glory in 2021. The forward has 106 goals in 180 international appearances for his country.

His record in America this season reads well, too. Messi has scored 11 goals and registered 12 assists in 12 games for MLS side Inter Miami, where he contracted until the end of the 2025 season.

Martinez added: “Playing with Leo, for us it’s a very important plus,” Martínez added. “Everyone knows what Leo represents, he’s the best in the world. Having him play for our team is without a doubt a plus. We are very happy to share the day to day with him.”

Argentina have two friendly matches coming up before the Copa America begins. They will face Ecuador and Guatemala to prepare for the tournament.

“Copa America is a complicated tournament,” Martinez continued. “Without a doubt, everyone wants to beat us because we’re the reigning champions.

“But if we go into it thinking of a couple ‘favourites’ or ‘strong teams’ we’re only hurting ourselves. We know what we represent, so every game for us is a final.

“Our expectation is to win Copa America.”

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