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Lionel Messi on retirement talk: ‘If I feel good, I will always try to continue competing’

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Sean Leahy

Lionel Messi will have a busy 2024 as he looks to deliver titles for Inter Miami and Argentina. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Lionel Messi will have a busy 2024 as he looks to deliver titles for Inter Miami and Argentina. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Lionel Messi will turn 37 in June, but as long as his body feels good, he plans to play as long as he can.

Speaking to MBC’s Big Time Podcast, the Inter Miami and Argentina forward said he will know when the time is right to walk away from the game.

“I know that as soon as I believe that I can no longer perform, or no longer enjoy the game, or not able to help my team-mates, then I will stop,” Messi said.

“I am very self-critical. I know when I am good, when I am bad, when I play well, when I play badly … And when I feel it is time to take that step, I will take it without thinking about age. If I feel good, I will always try to continue competing, because it is what I like and what I know how to do.”

Messi’s contract with Inter Miami expires in Dec. 2025. There have been rumors he may finish his career with Newell’s Old Boys, the Argentine club he played for as a boy before joining Barcelona. But for now, his focus is on his club team and his country.

While Messi has taken MLS by storm since his arrival in Miami last summer, it’s not been without obstacles. A busy Inter Miami schedule, along with international duties with Argentina, has led to injuries and much-needed load management by Herons boss Tata Martino.

Messi missed Inter Miami’s last two games and both of Argentina’s two friendly matches over the international break due to a hamstring injury. During preseason, he was affected by an adductor injury, which caused him to miss the much-hyped showdown against Cristiano Ronaldo and his Saudi Arabia club, Al-Nassr.

Inter Miami continues their MLS schedule on Saturday against NYCFC, and Messi is questionable for that match. They are scheduled for six games in April between MLS action and the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals against Mexico‘s Monterrey.

When he is healthy, Messi has done what he’s always done: dominate. He has five goals through five MLS and CONCACAF Champions Cup matches this season. In those games Messi has played, Inter Miami has a 3-0-1 record.

Inter Miami has championship dreams after adding Luis Suárez to their superstar group that already features Messi, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets. As they look to repeat their 2023 Leagues Cup title, they can also add trophies from the CONCACAF Champions Cup and MLS to their trophy case. They will need a healthy Messi to achieve those dreams.

Argentina also would like a healthy Messi as they eye a second straight Copa América title this summer and resume 2026 World Cup qualifying in September.

Age is just a number to Messi, and as long as he can manage whatever injuries pop up along the way, retirement can wait.

“The truth is I haven’t thought about it yet,” Messi said. “Today I try to enjoy the day to day, the moments, without thinking about what comes after.

“I don’t have anything clear yet, I hope to continue playing for a while longer, which is what I like. When the time comes, I will surely find the way to what fulfills me, what I like and a new role.”

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