Lionel Messi has hinted that he could retire from international football after leading Argentina to the World Cup in Qatar at the end of the year.
The PSG star captained his country to a 3-0 win over Venezuela on Friday in their penultimate qualifying match, scoring their third goal.
Argentina are already assured of a place at the tournament, which will be Messi's fifth World Cup at the age of 35.
"I really don't know (what the future holds). I think about what's coming, which is very close, (the next match against) Ecuador, the preparation matches in June and September,” Messi said (via Goal).
"After the World Cup I'm going to have to rethink a lot of things, whether it goes well or badly.”
Messi suffered the agony of a World Cup final defeat in 2014 and two years later, he announced his retirement from international football after missing a penalty in the Copa America final, his fourth major final defeat.
That moment left Messi distraught, leaving him without a major honour to show for his efforts and Argentina trophyless since 1993.
However, he was soon convinced to change his mind and was rewarded last year when he led the Albiceleste to Copa America glory, ending their long wait for silverware.
"There is a wonderful group here. People love me a lot and every day they show me more. I am very grateful. It does me good every time I come to Argentina. After the Copa America win, much more,” Messi said.
"Everything flows naturally and it is easier on the field. Winning helps make everything nicer and easier.
"(The game against Venezuela) was the last game here before going to the World Cup. I think it's farewell in a very good way."
Messi departed Barcelona, the club he joined aged 13, in the summer after the Catalans couldn’t afford to hand him a new contract.
He joined PSG, but his first season has been difficult.
Messi has scored seven goals in 26 games so far, a poor return by his sky-high standards, and he was booed by his own fans recently following the French side’s capitulation to Real Madrid in the Champions League.
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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.
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