The 30-year-old originally retired from international duty in 2016 after Argentina lost their third major final in as many years. Starting with a defeat in the World Cup 2014, Argentina then lost Copa America finals to Chile in successive summers.
Back then, he cited criticism from the Argentine press as one of the main reasons for the decision, but also acknowledged the emotional turmoil of losing three finals had taken its toll.
He reversed his decision six months later, helping his country qualify for the World Cup finals, but has warned the media that they risk losing him for good if they go back to their old ways of stamping on their achievements.
Asked if he will retire after the World Cup, Messi told Spanish newspaper Sport: ‘I don’t know. It will depend how we do, how it ends.
‘The fact we’ve lost three finals now has led to some complicated moments with the Argentine press due to the differences in seeing what it means to reach a final.
‘It is not easy and [reaching three finals] has to be appreciated. It’s true that winning them is important, but getting there is not easy.’
Messi’s comments appear to leave open the possibility that he will retire whether Argentina win the World Cup or not.
With 64 goals in 124 caps, Messi is Argentina’s all-time top goalscorer and the third-highest appearance-maker, but he remains the target of critics who believe the team have underachieved by failing to win a major trophy.
Indeed, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has been under immense pressure to emulate Diego Maradona’s achievements at the 1986 World Cup. Some even claim failure to do so will stop him being remembered as the country’s greatest player.