Scaloni urges Argentina fans to 'enjoy' Messi now and 'not think about the future'

Speculation has mounted that the PSG forward could retire from international football after the World Cup

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Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has urged the nation's football fans to enjoy Lionel Messi while they can amid speculation the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner could retire from international football after the World Cup later this year in Qatar.

Scaloni's words came in response to Messi's cryptic comment after last week's game against Venezuela that he would "rethink a lot of things" when the tournament in Qatar was over. The comments were interpreted in some quarters as a sign he might retire from international duty.

Messi, 34, led a lap of honour after Argentina beat Venezuela 3-0 at the Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, a match that could be his last international appearance on Argentine soil.

"We have to enjoy him now, not think about the future and what is going to happen," Scaloni told reporters ahead of Tuesday's qualifier away to Ecuador.

"Sometimes, because that's life, one gets old and I think that's normal. But why not think about the spectacular here and now? Why not enjoy him now? It's useless thinking about what is going to happen after the World Cup."

Scaloni, who has led his side to a 30-game unbeaten streak, said he could not confirm Messi's presence in the team to play Ecuador on Tuesday. Both teams have already qualified for the finals and the coach promised to give some fringe players a run out.

"We think this is the right time to make some modifications," he said.

Argentina had not won an international title in 28 years until Scaloni took them to the Copa America last year and they will be aiming for a third World Cup title in Qatar.

They booked their place in the finals by placing second in the South American qualifying table, having won 11 and drawing five of their 16 games ahead of the last match against Ecuador. Brazil hold a four-point lead over Argentina and are therefore guaranteed top spot.

Updated: March 28, 2022, 8:46 AM