Defending champions Argentina will once again be counting on the inspirational leadership of Lionel Messi as they enter the final stages of the 2024 Copa América.

Messi’s international career has taken a huge turn since 2021, after leading Lionel Scaloni’s side to a first Copa America title since 1993 before going one better by winning the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Inter Miami forward remains Argentina’s star player despite turning 37 during the tournament, hoping to secure another title for his country.

There is still speculation as to whether Messi will achieve his goal of playing in the 2026 World Cup. But 2024 will certainly be his last Copa America and he will be hoping for a fairytale ending in the United States.

MORE: Copa America 2024 schedule and results, updated LIVE | Who will win the 2024 Copa America? Latest odds & predictions | How to watch all the Copa America action

Lionel Messi Copa America Titles

The 2021 victory was Messi’s sixth Copa America tournament and the first time he managed to find himself in the winning team of the final, indeed, in an international competition.

After defeats in three previous finals, Messi’s performance with Argentina was put on the back burner as the three runners-up medals in Rio de Janeiro were finally traded for one winner’s medal.

Lionel Messi Copa America record with Argentina
Year Host country Stadium reached Eliminated by
2007 Venezuela Second place Brazil
2011 Argentina Quarter final Uruguay
2015 Chili Second place Chili
2016 US Second place Chili
2019 Brazil Semi finals Brazil
2021 Brazil Champions

Lionel Messi Copa America Matches and Goals

Messi’s long career with Argentina has earned him a permanent place new records for international matches (186) and goals (109) as leader in both categories for his national team.

During the 2024 tournament, Messi broke the record for most Copa America appearances, making his 35th appearance in the opening match against Canada.

The goal record remains more difficult, with 14 scored and the competition absolute record is 17.

Lionel Messi Copa America Stats for Argentina
Year Host country Games played Goals scored Stadium reached Eliminated by
2007 Venezuela 6 2 Second place Brazil
2011 Argentina 5 0 Quarter final Uruguay
2015 Chili 6 1 Second place Chili
2016 US 6 5 Second place Chili
2019 Brazil 5 1 Semi finals Brazil
2021 Brazil 6 4 Champions
2024 US 4 1 To be defined To be defined

Lionel Messi Copa America final heartbreaking, Brazil and Chile double up

Messi made his debut in the 2007 Copa America as a starter for Argentina, who lost 3-0 to Brazil.

The Samba Boys had beaten Argentina on penalties in the 2004 final and were ruthless in their revenge match, with Messi left frustrated in Venezuela.

However, the images of an inconsolable Messi losing the Copa America final are immediately associated with the matches between Argentina and Chile in 2015 and 2016.

In the 2015 final in Santiago, Argentina failed to really come to life and Jorge Sampaoli’s resilient home side eventually decided the match on penalties.

Messi scored Argentina’s first penalty, but misses from Gonzalo Higuain and Ever Banega gave Chile the advantage, before Alexis Sanchez’s effort eventually sealed it for Sampaoli. The 2016 tournament was seen as a quick shot at revenge, as Argentina faced Chile again in the 100th anniversary Copa America in New Jersey.

However, Argentina fell into Sampaoli’s trap again, as Chile held on to penalties. Messi missed his spot-kick this time, as Chile held their nerve, and the Argentina talisman initially decided to retire from international football after the match.

He of course returned in glorious fashion and is not yet finished with his international career.