The coach of the World Cup-winning Argentina team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Lionel Scaloni, has assured fans that Lionel Messi will be the one to make the decision on whether or not to play at the 2026 World Cup.
“Being at the next World Cup will be Leo’s decision, if his body holds up for me he will be there,” Scaloni detailed at an Italian coaching course.
“Behind our title there was a communion of intentions between fans, staff and players, something emotional that made the sense of belonging to this unique shirt even stronger.
“Then, having a player like Messi was, and is obviously, an advantage. As a former team-mate, coaching him is beautiful, I see how the other players look at him and follow him, he is the best.”
The value of Argentinians in Italian football
Scaloni also appraised the performances of several Argentinian players playing in Serie A this season.
“What I said about Messi goes for Angel Di Maria, as long as his body holds up he will always be called up. Lautaro Martinez plays in a great team of which he is now also captain and is leading it. He was always my first-choice striker, he arrived at the World Cup with some problems, but when we needed him he was always there,” he continued.
He recalled that he was unable to call up Giovanni Simeone, although made clear that his performances haven’t gone unnoticed.
“He has always been on our list, what happens is that Argentina has many strikers, but I hold him in high esteem,” he added.
Scaloni took time to talk about Napoli’s great season in Serie A, which has them on course to win their first Scudetto since Diego Maradona played for the club.
“It’s a team I like a lot, with a great coach who makes the difference,” he confirmed.
“They play every game differently. I really like the way they approach the games and that’s why they are up there, I hope they win the championship.”
Regarding the two teams he played for during his time as a player, Lazio and Atalanta, Scaloni wished both teams luck in achieving their goal of reaching the European places at the end of the season.
“My wish is that both (Lazio and Atalanta) can achieve their objective, I love them both, Lazio with Sarri and Atalanta with Gasperini have their own idea of the game,” Scaloni concluded.