Lionel Messi and Lionel Scaloni (R)

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has encouraged Lionel Messi to continue playing for “as long as he can.”

Messi, 36, who recently completed his first season with MLS side Inter Miami CF, has not given an indication as to when he will retire from football.

“We tell him [Messi] to play for as long as he can,” Scaloni told Christian Vieri in a Twitch interview.

“He has proved that he doesn’t have an end. You don’t know when he will give [it] up. It’s incredible.”

According to Scaloni, the football field is a refuge for the player.

“He is happy on a football pitch,” he said. “Off it, I think it’s hard to be Leo because he goes out of his home and he is surrounded by many people. On the pitch, where the ball is, he is happy.”

At least for Messi, he has the triumph that had been missing in his career after winning the 2022 World Cup.

Messi was voted the player of the tournament in Qatar after scoring seven goals and setting up three more in seven appearances as Argentina won their first world title in 36 years.

“Everyone says the World Cup is the most extraordinary thing for a player,” Scaloni said. “He was missing [winning] a World Cup.

“I believe as good as he is, he also played [in Qatar] with his heart. And then he becomes unstoppable.”

Scaloni still marvels at Messi’s talent, even after coaching him since 2018.

“To watch him up close, it is something very difficult to describe,” Scaloni said. “You have to see him. If I told you the things he does in training, you wouldn’t believe me. It’s crazy.”

Messi has expressed a desire to continue playing for Argentina but unlike teammate Ángel Di María, who announced he will retire after the 2024 Copa America, the former Barcelona star hasn’t made a decision.

“I think he can continue play [for the national team] but the decision is his,” Scaloni said of Messi. “He can play wherever he wants and the team arranges itself around him. ”

Messi, who has a contract with Inter Miami until December 2025, suffered a muscular injury while playing for Argentina in a 1-0 win at Brazil on November 21.

In October, the record eight-time Ballon d’Or winner expressed his desire to play football for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t know if I have a lot or a little left, but after the career I’ve had, the only thing I have left is to continue enjoying it,” Messi said.

“As long as I am physically well, I will continue competing, hopefully it will be a long time.”

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