England manager Southgate came under scathing criticism after the Three Lions suffered a crushing 4-0 defeat to Hungary in the Nations League in June.
And the pressure has mounted on Southgate ahead of the tournament in Qatar after Italy knocked England out of the Nations League in September.
Southgate, who is under contract with the FA until 2024, eased some pressure on his shoulders after leading England to a thrilling 3-3 draw with Germany last month.
Messi has his eyes on capturing the coveted World Cup trophy in what could be his final appearance in a major international tournament.
Argentina have recuperated from their lacklustre 2018 World Cup campaign as Messi lifted his first major silverware with his country at the 2021 Copa America.
Speaking to RMC Sport, the 35-year-old Paris Saint-Germain superstar named England among his World Cup favourites alongside the likes of Germany and Spain.
However, Messi believes that current World Cup champions France and Argentina’s South American rivals Brazil are the top two contenders to lift the trophy.
“As for the favourites, there are big teams like Brazil, Germany, France, England and Spain. And I’m sure I’m forgetting some,” he said.
“But if I have to keep one or two, today I think Brazil and France are the two big candidates for this World Cup.”
Southgate, 52, led England to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia in 2018 before Croatia dumped the Three Lions out in a 2-1 win.
The England manager fell short of leading his side to their first major honour since the 1966 World Cup after their defeat to Italy in the final of Euro 2020.
Despite England’s current disappointing run of form, the under-fire Southgate believes he is still the right man to lead the Three Lions into the World Cup.
“Look, I think that’s currently where it is and I have to accept that,” he said in September.
“I think I’m the right person to take the team into the tournament. I think it’s more stable that way, without a doubt.
“I don’t think [the] performance [against Italy] was far off and I know that’s going to get derision just because we’re on the back of a run of defeats.
“But I’ve got to separate the summer and the circumstances around the summer from [this match].”
England kick off their World Cup campaign by facing Iran in their opening Group B fixture on 21st November.
Featured Image Credit: Paris Saint-Germain's YouTube/Alamy
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