Gary Neville lamented the departure of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo from the World Cup after both Argentina and Portugal were eliminated, leading to speculation over whether the pair will ever grace the game’s biggest stage again.
Messi was helpless to prevent France from clinching a place in the quarter-finals at the expense of Argentina, with Les Bleus winning a thriller 4-3 in Kazan, meaning the Barcelona star suffered a fourth World Cup exit without managing a goal outside the group stages.
Portugal also lost, going down 2-1 to Uruguay in Sochi, with even the talismanic Ronaldo unable to inspire his country to glory in Russia.
Despite their departures, Neville suggested the prospect of a World Cup without Messi and Ronaldo – who will be 35 and 37 respectively by 2020 – was something their supporters, and lovers of the game in general, should be dreading.
0 – Neither Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi have scored a goal in a World Cup knockout match:
Ronaldo: 0 goals in 6 games from 25 shots (514 mins)
Messi: 0 goals in 8 games from 23 shots (756 mins)
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 30, 2018
“From Messi’s point of view, maybe that’s it. Ronaldo seems to want to go on forever,” former England international Neville told ITV Sport.
“Can they retire? The whole weight of the nation is on their shoulders.
”It’s a shame we might not see Messi and Ronaldo at the next World Cup because they have been such incredible players.”