Lionel Messi backed to spring 2026 World Cup surprise as Argentina FA president insists Inter Miami star can follow Luka Modric blueprint

Lionel Messi World Cup trophy
Argentina FA president Claudio Tapia has backed Lionel Messi to surprise everyone by playing at the 2026 World Cup.
  • Tapia wants Messi at 2026 World Cup
  • Gave example of Modric's longevity
  • Messi in brilliant form for Inter Miami

WHAT HAPPENED? Messi has admitted that he is is not planning to feature for Argentina at the next World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico, having helped his country to their third global crown at the 2022 tournament in Qatar. Tapia hasn't given up hope of a Messi U-turn, however, and has cited Luka Modric's performances with the Croatia national team as an example for him to follow in terms of longevity in international football.

WHAT THEY SAID: The AFA president said at the Sports Summit Leaders: "He always goes for more. He never leaves you. He always surprises you, he goes for more. You can imagine it. How can I not imagine it? I would like him to be there. With the conditions he has, he could easily play in the 2026 World Cup.

"Modric does it for his team, [Andres] Iniesta did it for Barcelona. It depends on him, on what he feels. I see him playing in the World Cup, playing in the position he wants. He can really do it. It will depend on what he wants. I dream about that."

Article continues below

Tapia added: "He is happy with the national team, coming to the facility. He is very happy with the group of teammates, with the coaching staff. I am fortunate to have the relationship I have with him. It is a relationship of affection."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Messi left Europe for the first time in his professional career this summer to join MLS side Inter Miami. Since his arrival, Messi has taken U.S. soccer by storm, scoring 11 times in 10 appearances across all competitions. The 36-year-old has already won his first trophy at Inter Miami in the form of the inaugural Leagues Cup, and has also played a key role in their progress to the final of the US Open Cup.

This page contains affiliate links. When you subscribe through the links provided, we may earn a commission.

Sign up here for MLS Season Pass through Apple TV and watch every MLS match, including Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami!


Messi Argentina

lionel messi claudio tapia argentina predio deportivo

Luka Modric Croatia 2022 World Cup

WHAT NEXT FOR LIONEL MESSI? The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner will be next seen in action for Argentina in their 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Bolivia on September 7 and 12 respectively.