Lionel Messi’s World Cup adventures may not yet have drawn to a close as Didier Deschamps considers his future in the wake of a thrilling final in Qatar.
Victorious Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni is ready to save his 35-year-old superstar a place for 2026 after seeing him score twice in Sunday’s nerve-jangling 3-3 draw with France, while a deflated Deschamps will meet with the France Football Federation in the new year to discuss the way forward.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at how the tournament drew to a remarkable conclusion.
Door open for Messi
Messi has not kicked his last ball at the World Cup finals if it has anything to do with Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni.
Speaking after seeing the 35-year-old, who had indicated in the build-up to the game that it would be his last on the biggest stage of all, score twice in a match he described as “completely insane”, Scaloni refused to rule out a title defence for his talisman in four years’ time.
“First of all, we need to save him a spot for the next World Cup in 2026,” the Argentina head coach said of Messi, who will turn 39 during the finals in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“If he wants to keep playing, he’ll be with us. I think that he’s more than entitled to decide whether he wants to keep playing for Argentina or not, or what he wants to do with his career.”
D-Day for Deschamps
France boss Didier Deschamps has admitted he does not know what the future may hold after having another slice of World Cup glory snatched from his grasp.
Asked after seeing his side fight back to draw 3-3 after 120 minutes if he will stay on as manager, the 54-year-old said: “You’re not the first person to ask that question.
“In fact, even if we’d won the match, I wouldn’t be able to reply to that question tonight.
“Of course I’m very sad for my players and for all of my staff. But, as you know, I’ll have a meeting with the president at the beginning of next year and then you’ll find out.”
It may prove scant consolation for Kylian Mbappe, but he left Qatar with something other than a runners-up medal to show for his efforts when he pipped Messi to the Golden Boot.
The penalty which completed his hat-trick – only the second in the final after Sir Geoff Hurst’s in 1966 – took him to eight goals for the tournament, one more than the Argentina skipper.
At just 23, the Frenchman has time on his hands as he attempts to establish himself as the world’s next great player with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo surely soon to exit the stage they have dominated for so long.
Carry on, Gareth
England boss Gareth Southgate watched the final having committed his future to his country once again.
The 52-year-old had admitted in the wake of his side’s quarter-final exit that he needed time to reflect on a challenging last 18 months in the role but ultimately decided he wanted to remain in charge of the Euro 2024 campaign, which is covered by his existing contract.
Announcing Southgate’s decision, Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “We are delighted to confirm that Gareth Southgate is continuing as England manager and will lead our Euro 2024 campaign.
“Gareth and (assistant) Steve Holland have always had our full support and our planning for the Euros starts now.”