The Mercury News Weekend

Messi might not play in next World Cup


Lionel Messi may be in doubt as to whether he'll be still playing for Argentina at the 2026 World Cup but he's sure about one thing: he wants Lionel Scaloni to stay on as head coach until then, regardless.

The 35-year-old Messi led Argentina to the title in Qatar last December and wasn't entirely sure if his fifth trip to the World Cup would be his last. The next edition will take place in Mexico, Canada and the United States when Messi is 39.

Messi told newspaper Olé in an interview published Thursday that he'd regularly said his age would make it difficult to play another World Cup..

“I love playing soccer, I love what I do and while I am feeling well and feel I am fit and continue to enjoy it, I will do it. But it seems to be too much until the next World Cup,” he told the newspaper.

“I have to see where my career goes, what I will do. It depends on many things.”

In the near future, he suggested he wants to play in next year's Copa America in the U.S. to help Argentina defend its title.

“I will stay a little longer, I have to enjoy this,” he said.

Scaloni is negotiatin­g an extension of his contract with the Argentinia­n soccer federation and Messi thinks the coach should remain on the job.

“He is very important for the national team,” Messi said. “To continue with this process would be spectacula­r.”

Asked what it was like returning to his club París Saint Germain after Argentina beat France on penalties to win the World Cup, Messi said he didn't have deep discussion­s about it with his teammate Kylian Mbappé, the French striker.

“One doesn't want to speak and bring the topic of the final,” Messi said, recalling his own experience after losing the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in Brazil. “I was also on the other side, I lost a World Cup final and I didn't want to talk about it.”

“Truth is there is no problem with Kylian, quite on the contrary,” Messi said.

Messi is set to play for Argentina in friendlies to be scheduled in Buenos Aires in March to celebrate the team's third World Cup title with their fans.



CASE >> American League batting champion Luis Arraez won his salary arbitratio­n case Thursday and will get a $6.1 million salary from the Miami Marlins, who acquired the infielder from the Minnesota Twins last month.

Miami had argued for a $5 million salary during a hearing Wednesday before John Stout, Mark Burstein and Scott Buchheit. Arraez received a raise from $2.2 million.

Arraez hit .316 with eight homers, 49 RBIs and a .795 OPS last year for Minnesota, starting 61 games at first base, 34 at designated hitter and 31 at second. The 25-year-old was traded on Jan. 20 for starting pitcher Pablo López and a pair of prosects: infielder Jose Salas and outfielder Byron Chourio. Arraez is eligible for free agency after the 2026 season.


FORMER CAL BASKETBALL COACH DIES >> Lou Campanelli, the Cal men's basketball coach who revived the Bears' program in the 1980s, died this week at the age of 84. A cause of death was not immediatel­y known.

Campanelli was perhaps best known for breaking Cal's 25-year losing streak to UCLA in January of 1986 as his team, headlined by Kevin Johnson and Chris Washington, toppled Reggie Miller and the Bruins for the first time in 53 matchups. The win made good on a promise Campanelli made to athletic director Dave Maggard during his introducto­ry press conference. He and his assistants celebrated with a champagne toast.

“This is a special moment,” he told them. “I want you to remember it the rest of your lives.”

Maggard had hired Campanelli from James Madison University in Virginia, where he had coached 13 seasons and led the Dukes to NCAA Tournament upsets over Georgetown, Ohio State and West Virginia.

Campanelli guided the Bears to four postseason appearance­s in eight seasons after not making a tournament since 1960. His Bears reached the NIT three times in his first four years before making the NCAA Tournament and upsetting Indiana in 1990 before falling to UConn.

Campanelli was fired in February 1993 amid a losing streak and complaints from a team featuring sensation Jason Kidd about his no-nonsense coaching style.

The firing drew a lawsuit from Campanelli, but was dismissed by a judge. He never coached college ball again but was later an NBA scout and served several years as an officiatin­g administra­tor for the Pac10.

College basketball

BEARS LEADING SCORER HAS SURGERY >> Cal junior guard Devin Askew underwent sports hernia surgery and will miss the remainder of the season, Golden Bears coach Mark Fox announced Thursday. Askew's surgery, performed Wednesday, was successful according to the school and he is expected to make a full recovery.

“I am disappoint­ed for Devin because he loves to play,” Fox said. “Our team will rally again to support him in recovery. We are encouraged that the procedure went well and he will make a full recovery in time to have a full offseason.”

Askew averaged a teamleadin­g 15.5 points in 13 games, all starts, this season, but missed eight of Cal's past 12 games due to either injury or illness.

Askew, a Sacramento native, is in his first season at Cal after he started his college career at Kentucky in 2020-21 and played his sophomore year at Texas in 2021-22.


VANDERSLOO­T LATEST STAR TO JOIN LIBERTY >> Courtney Vandersloo­t, who had played her entire 12-year career with the Chicago Sky, became the latest star to join the New York Liberty, announcing on social media that she would join the team. Breanna Stewart said Tuesday Wednesday that she would play in New York.

The moves give New York a potent lineup, with Stewart, Vandersloo­t, Sabrina Ionescu from Orinda's Miramonte High, Betnijah Laney and Jonquel Jones making the Liberty an instant championsh­ip contender. New York, one of the WNBA's original franchises, has never won a title.

Stewart and Vandersloo­t currently are playing together in Turkey.


KYRGIOS TO CONTEST AUSTRALIAN ASSAULT CHARGE >> Nick Kyrgios was due to appear in an Australian court today to apply to have an assault charge stemming from events two years ago dismissed on mental health grounds.

His lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared in a court in Kyrgios' hometown of Canberra in October and asked for an adjournmen­t so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until today, when lawyers for the 27-year-old Australian are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.


IOC TRIES TO CLARIFY STANCE ON RUSSIANS >> The IOC stepped up efforts to explain its position on trying to help Russian athletes qualify for next year's Paris Olympics amid a backlash from Ukraine and its allies.

The Internatio­nal Olympic Committee's move last week to map a pathway to Paris for athletes from Russia and Belarus who have not actively supported the war provoked strong objections from Ukraine, which wants to see those countries remain banned from most internatio­nal sports.

Publishing a series of explanatio­ns and rebuttals to its critics Thursday, the the Olympic body also responded to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy's invitation for his IOC counterpar­t Thomas Bach to return and see the ruined city of Bakhmut.

“Currently there are no plans for another visit to Ukraine,” the IOC said, noting that Bach visited Kyiv last July and had since spoken with Zelenskyy in telephone calls.

The IOC once more cited the opinion of two United Nations human rights experts who support the view that Russians and Belarusian­s should not face discrimina­tion just for the passport they hold. Instead, they could compete under a neutral flag.

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