Emiliano Martinez urges Lionel Messi to lead Argentina out at the 2026 World Cup

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Emiliano Martinez is urging Argentina captain Lionel Messi to lead them out at 2026 World Cup in North America – despite the star confirming Sunday’s final will be his last at the tournament.

The 35-year-old has been a key figure in helping guide Argentina to the final of the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar, where they will face France on Sunday.

The PSG forward has notched five goals so far in the tournament, including a penalty in their 3-0 victory over Croatia in the semi-final.

Messi recently revealed that the final would be his last match at the World Cup and is keen to go out with a bang by winning the competition to add the trophy to his impressive honours list.

Goalkeeper Martinez, however, has different plans and believes the captain can lead them out once again at the next World Cup in four years time.

‘For me he can play until he is 50. He looks really sharp and he looks so good,’ Martinez told FootballersLives.tv.

‘He makes things look easy – it’s the hardest thing to do. To understand how well he hits the ball is something.

‘He puts the ball there and looks at you and hits the ball top corner, if he misses he hits the post, or crossbar.

‘That left foot. He is small, but so strong.’

His fellow team-mate Cristian Romero also insisted that he hopes that this is not Messi’s last World Cup.

The Tottenham defender also recently featured on Footballer Lives, saying: ‘I hope this is not his last World Cup. This issue always comes up and we say we are going to ask him not to step down.

‘It makes us very happy to have him as a partner and to have him play with us.’

The Aston Villa shot-stopper has also revealed that he treasures an image of Messi celebrating with him after his three penalty shoot-out saves in the Copa America semi-final against Colombia  set up their first trophy in a lifetime.

‘Playing alongside him has made me a better footballer for sure. It was proper for Messi to win Copa America. He has lost in two World Cup finals and two or three Copa America finals.

‘When he asked me for a selfie it was a proud moment for me and I have a frame in my house.’

He added: ‘He represents the country as a hero. People respect Messi more than the President.

‘People would stay home 24 hours if Messi asked them. He is number one, a hard worker and inspirational for everyone.

‘He is a nice guy, a really nice guy – he has no ego – you realise he has no ego when you meet him and this is so good.

‘He is known by everyone in the world, so when you meet him you want to shake his hand and go away.’

Martinez also was keen to brush aside the debate of who is the ‘GOAT’ Messi or Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

He insisted: ‘Do I need to answer. Messi. It’s not like I have to say Messi, it is Messi for me. Everyone knows he is a better footballer. He was born a magician.’

Argentina will face France to determine who will crowned champions of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Sunday afternoon at 3pm.

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