On Thursday, the world champions Argentina will begin an expanded Copa America. Lionel Messi will likely be making his final appearance in the competition as he looks to add a second continental title. 

Ten South American countries and six teams from the CONCACAF region are competing for a spot in the July 14 final in Miami during the 108th edition of the competition, which is being held in the United States. 

While FIFA will be closely monitoring the event's organization two years before the USA, Canada, and Mexico co-host the World Cup, it's important to note that the Copa America is far more than a mere 'trial event'. Its illustrious past and the high stakes involved make it a significant and highly anticipated tournament.

Only once, in 2021, did Argentina win the Copa during the Messi era. Coach Lionel Scaloni has stuck mainly with his World Cup-winning team, with veterans Angel Di Maria and Nicolas Otamendi probably making their final appearance in a major competition. 

As the tournament unfolds, the question remains-is this Messi's final goodbye to the highest level of international football? The eight-time Ballon d'Or winner, currently playing in Major League Soccer with Inter Miami, will turn 37 four days after the team's opening match against Canada on Thursday. His decision to attempt to play in a record-tying World Cup is yet to be made, adding to the suspense and unpredictability of the situation.

"It's great to have records and continue to achieve things but I won't take part in a World Cup just to say I've done six," Messi told ESPN last week.

"If I feel good and everything is in place for me to be there, fine, but I won't go just to go. It's very difficult to imagine what can happen because it's still two years away. I don't need to commit right now to whether or not I'll be there," he added.

After so many years of dissatisfaction with his national team, Messi, who has controlled his workload to be in top form for the tournament, would undoubtedly welcome the chance to win a third straight major tournament with his country.