Lionel Messi ponders future after Argentina beats Venezuela

BUENOS AIRES (AP) — Lionel Messi says he will reconsider his future in soccer later this year but said it’s likely “many things will change” after the World Cup in November and December in Qatar.

Messi’s comments came after Argentina beat Venezuela 3-0 on Friday in the remaining match of the penultimate round of South American World Cup qualifying.

“I don’t know what I will do after the World Cup. I am thinking about what is coming,” Messi said. “After Qatar I will have to reassess many things.”

He added his doubts had nothing to do with past frustration playing for Argentina. He won his first title with the team last year — the Copa America in a final against Brazil.

“It has been a while that I am happy here, since before winning the Copa. I am thankful for all this they make me feel every time I come to Argentina,” Messi said.

Asked about him continuing with the national team after Qatar, Messi, who turns 35 in June, said: “I don’t know, the truth is I don’t know. I think about that is coming, which is close, Ecuador (on Tuesday). The preparation matches in June and September.”

“Let’s hope these go the best way possible. But for sure after the World Cup many things will change.”

Messi, who was recently booed by Paris Saint-Germain fans, appeared pleased after scoring the third goal of the match Friday and receiving enthusiastic support from the spectators at the La Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires.

Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay have already secured the region’s four direct spots in Qatar later this year. Peru (21 points), Colombia (20) and Chile (19) will play in the last round on Tuesday for fifth place, which qualifies for an international playoff with an Asian team.

Argentina opened the scoring with Nico González from close range in the 35th minute after a low cross by Rodrigo de Paul. Ángel di Maria, another player who is under fire in France, netted the second in the 79th minute, lobbing the Venezuelan goalkeeper after an assist by De Paul.

Messi and Brazil star Neymar have both faced criticism in France after their club’s loss to Real Madrid in the round of 16 of the Champions League.

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