Argentina and Brighton star Alex Mac Allister has revealed he wants to see Lionel Messi play on until the 2026 World Cup.
Mac Allister and Messi were both key parts of Lionel Scaloni’s side as they emerged victorious in Qatar at the end of last year.
The PSG star scored seven goals and added three assists in just seven games and as skipper, he led his nation to victory.
Mac Allister emerged as an important player for Argentina in the tournament having originally been on the fringes of the team, with the 24-year-old also playing a major part in Angel di Maria’s iconic goal in the final.
Messi had repeatedly said it would be his last World Cup, allowing him a fairy tale ending to his international career.
Alexis Mac Allister said he wants to see Lionel Messi play for Argentina at the 2026 World Cup
Messi and Mac Allister were key parts of Lionel Scaloni’s side during their triumph in Qatar
However, the Brighton midfielder insisted he would love to see the 35-year-old represent his country in the 2026 edition in the US, Canada and Mexico – by which time he would be almost 39 – and believes Messi would continue to star for Argentina.
‘He knows that we want everything as long as he wants and can, so hopefully he can continue with us,’ Mac Allister told TyC Sports.
‘Obviously I see Messi in the next World Cup. I have no doubt that at 40 or 45 he will continue to be the best in the world.
‘He is very professional, you can see it, he is in perfect physical condition to continue playing calmly.
‘And afterwards, he has everything in his head, beyond the physical (side of things) he has everything in his head. We don’t have any problem running for him.’
Mac Allister also reflected on the first time he met Messi after being called up to his national team and revealed he was star-struck by the Argentine icon.
He explained: ‘I met him on a tour that we do in Spain. I had already been summoned on a tour that we went on to the United States, that we played against Mexico and Chile, but on that one there was no Leo.
‘We arrived from Argentina and I was obviously very nervous, on top of that we arrived and they were already having dinner and we had to go one by one saying hello.
‘That’s when I met Leo, I was very nervous, all red. It was not the best moment perhaps, but at the same time I will never forget it , because it is meeting an idol.’
The Brighton star also explained he was extremely nervous when he first met his ‘idol’ Messi
The Brighton midfielder also reflected on his on-pitch relationship with Messi and insisted the experiences of the 35-year-old helped him to have more of an impact in Qatar.
He added: ‘If he saw something that could improve the team or me, he would obviously tell me.
‘I remember the game with Mexico a lot, he told me that if they pulled back a little, I would go forward to find space. On the pitch we talked a lot.’
Furthermore, Mac Allister insisted he was in awe of the sensational piece of skill Messi did to help set up Julian Alvarez in the semi-final against Croatia, where he befuddled Josko Gvardiol with some superb play.
Mac Allister insisted he and his team-mates would be happy to do Messi’s running in 2026
‘I went directly to hug Messi,’ the midfielder said. ‘I left Juli aside. I swear I couldn’t believe the play he made.
‘I went directly to him and said “You’re a son of a p*****”. Gvardiol is a very important player, there is talk that he will go to a big club, a young player, physically strong, and Leo took him out for a walk.’
The World Cup winners are back in action later this month when they take on Panama and Curacao in friendlies.
Mac Allister has now won 14 caps for Argentina, scoring once, and has continued to go from strength-to-strength for Brighton since returning to the south coast following the tournament.