The ex-Barcelona star is confident that the Argentine will be on the plane in two years time due to his physical strength and competitive nature
Lionel Messi is an “animal” and will definitely play at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, according to Barcelona legend Xavi.
Argentina great Messi will be 35 by the time the next international global showpiece is held in Qatar across November and December.
The Barcelona superstar has suffered more than his fair share of heartbreak with La Albiceleste, losing three Copa America finals and the 2014 World Cup final to Germany.
Despite turning 33 last month, Messi’s numbers continue to be phenomenal and he topped La Liga’s goalscoring and assists charts with 25 and 21 respectively this term.
Xavi, who played alongside Messi in Barca’s first team from 2004 until his Camp Nou departure in 2015, is currently coaching Qatari side Al Sadd, and fully expects to see his former team-mate involved at the next World Cup.
“I see Leo playing until he wants to. On a physical level, he is fast, strong, he is a competitive beast, physically an animal,” Xavi told Marca .
“I have no doubt that he will play in Qatar 2022.”
Xavi won eight league titles and the Champions League four times during a glittering Barca career. His name was heavily linked with the coaching vacancy at Camp Nou when Ernesto Valverde was sacked and while Quique Setien got the job, there is now speculation over his future too.
The 40-year-old has made no secret of his desire to one day return to Barca but says respect must be shown to Setien, whom he feels has done some good work despite missing out on the league title to arch-rivals Real Madrid.
“I do not hide, and I have always said, that my main goal, when it occurs, is Barca. It is my home and it would be a dream,” he said.
“But now I am focused on Al Sadd, looking forward to the new season. When Barca has to come, in the short or long term, it will come. Above all, Quique Setien must be respected and I wish the team all the best.
“Sometimes Barca plays very well, others well, and others not so well. But I like the idea of Setien, now and with his previous teams – dominate and make an attractive game.
“Sometimes it is not possible, it is true, but the rival makes it difficult for you. We have seen very nice and very good games of Barca with Setien. Definitely.”
It was revealed over the weekend that Xavi had returned a positive test for coronavirus, which meant he was not on the bench for Al Sadd’s 2-1 victory over Al Khor.
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The World Cup winner says he is doing well but expects the transfer market to suffer as a result of the global health pandemic.
“I am fine, although logically isolated, and wanting to train soon,” he added.
“It [coronavirus] will lower the level [of the market], like everything after this pandemic. It will be very damaged. There will be a reorganisation of everything, of clubs and players. It is a shame, but it will be so.”