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Lionel Messi: Argentina ‘won’t close the door’ after 37-year-old admits he is playing his last Copa America

Messi scored as Argentina saw off Canada 2-0 to reach the final of the Copa America

Lionel Messi

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni insists he “won’t close the door” on Lionel Messi’s international career after the 37-year-old admitted he was likely playing in his last Copa America.

Messi scored as Argentina beat Canada 2-0 in New Jersey to advance to a final clash with either Colombia or Uruguay, deflecting home Enzo Fernandez’s shot after Julian Alvarez had put Scaloni’s men ahead in the first half.

Messi acccepts he is unlikely to play in another Copa with the next edition not scheduled for another four years, but Scaloni insisted any decision on his future would be left to the player, and that also goes for Angel Di Maria.

“You know how I think, we wait and see how he plays,” Scaloni said of Di Maria. “We won’t retire him early before the game, then the tears will start and everyone, his family, will get melancholic. We’ll see later if we convince him or not convince him, but for now we let him play.

“It’s the same case for Messi. We leave them calm from our part, we won’t be the ones to close the door on them. He can be with us as long as he wants, and even after he retires he can join me if I’m still coach. And if not I’ll take him where I go. He would be a great help.”

Messi has offered little indication as to when he might retire, but did say after the game: “We enjoy what we are living as a squad, as a group. It is not easy that we are in a final again and we are about to compete again with the possibility of being champions.

“A lot of importance is given to the previous finals that me and the ‘old guard’ have played. These are the last battles we will have with Di Maria and [Nicolas] Otamendi. Surely this is my last Copa.”

Argentina are the defending Copa champions and backed up their continental success by winning the World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

It’s a remarkable run of success that even the understated Scaloni says should be recognised.

“It’s something to be proud of and grateful to the players for,” Scaloni said. “Yesterday, a [media] colleague asked me if we normalise this, but the question was good and I wasn’t clear. 

“It’s super difficult to be in a final, especially coming in the way we did with previous success and triumph. It’s twice as hard.

“The ones on the inside know how difficult it is to reach this point. It’s a sensation of happiness, but also worry because it costs more.”

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.