World Cup 2022 is set to begin in about 5 days and here are some of the best players the world have seen that might never play in the tournament again after this coming edition.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have defined a generation of football players, but this is probably their last opportunity to win a World Cup.
The two have won everything at the club level, but only one significant continental trophy each for Argentina and Portugal.
They are two of the legends who will play in their final World Cup this winter in Qatar.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
With Ronaldo, nothing is ever completely ruled out, but given that he will be 41 by the time of the following World Cup, it is likely that this will be his final tournament.
Who knows? In September, he stated that he would not be retiring after World Cup 2022 and that he planned to continue playing for Portugal “for a few more years.”
His club’s future is also in doubt right now as a result of an interview in which he criticized Manchester United.
Along with winning Euro 2016, he already holds the major individual records for the European Championship, including the most tournaments played, games played, and goals scored. With 117 goals, he leads all male international football scorers, including a memorable hat-trick in the most recent World Cup against Spain.
With precisely 700 club goals, more than 30 championships, and five Ballon d’Or victories, the 37-year-old attacker is one of the greatest players in football history. But this is undoubtedly his final opportunity to add “World Cup winner” to that impressive resume.
Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Actually, most of the Ronaldo portion could be applied to Lionel Messi, who will turn 39 during the following World Cup.
With 695 goals for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain and a record seven Ballons d’Or, Messi is arguably the greatest player of all time. He finally won the Copa America at the most recent try.
However, for many who see winning the World Cup as the yardstick for being considered one of the “all-time best” athletes, the 35-year-old would finally be grouped with Pele and Diego Maradona if he succeeds in Qatar.
With 11 goals and 14 assists in 18 games for PSG, Messi enters the World Cup in some of his finest recent form.
Although nothing has been officially announced, he recently declared that this will “certainly” be his last World Cup. Additionally, he has already left Argentina’s service before returning.
Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
The second World Cup Robert Lewandowski will play in is likely to be his last.
The 34-year-old striker, who has 18 goals in 19 games for his new club Barcelona, was held scoreless in Poland’s three group matches four (and a half) years ago in Russia.
The former Bayern Munich star has five goals in 11 games at the European Championship, but it appears that this is his final opportunity to score at a World Cup.
The youngest player on this list, Neymar, is 30 years old. However, he has already stated that World Cup 2022 may be his final.
He stated last year, “I think this is my last World Cup. I’m not sure if I still have the mental fortitude to deal with football,” Later, he asserted that his remarks had been misconstrued.
Should Neymar decide to retire from sport soon, he will probably leave behind a legacy of “what if.” Neymar has scored 13 goals and assisted on another 11 for PSG this season.
He has scored 75 goals for his country and is one of the most gifted football players of his generation. However, he spent nearly all of his prime years playing in France with Paris St-Germain, appearing in only around half of the matches.
Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
Like his former Barcelona teammates Messi and Neymar, Suarez is 35, so his World Cup exploits may be coming to an end.
The former striker for Liverpool, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid is now a free agent after going back to his original club, Nacional, where he recently won the Uruguayan championship.
Most likely, his two most infamous moments will be biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup and getting sent off for a handball on the line that prevented Ghana from reaching the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup.
He is not the only legendary Uruguayan player nearing the conclusion of his international career; Velez Sarsfield defender Diego Godin, 36, and Valencia forward Edinson Cavani, 35, are both on the team.
Luka Modric (Croatia)
The 37-year-old Real Madrid midfielder Modric will represent Croatia in their ninth major competition. According to reports, he will stop playing for his country after the World Cup, despite recent statements from his manager to the contrary.
He was instrumental in getting his nation to the World Cup final, when they fell to France.
He received the Ballon d’Or as well as the Golden Ball for being the competition’s top player.
Karim Benzema (France)
The day following the World Cup championship, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema will turn 35.
Despite only scoring five goals this season, he entered the competition having won the 2022 Ballon d’Or after scoring 44 goals in 46 games.
He played in the 2014 World Cup, making this his second appearance. Due to his involvement in a sex video blackmail issue, he was excluded from the national team in 2010, and 2018 fell during that time.
Gareth Bale (Wales)
The legendary Bale of Wales is entering his first World Cup in 2022, which may also be his last.
The 33-year-old has stated he has no plans to retire after the World Cup in Qatar, but he will be 37 by the time it takes place.
After his Real Madrid contract ended in the summer, Bale joined Los Angeles FC and helped them win the MLS Cup. There were rumors that if Wales had lost in the play-offs, he might have decided to retire.
Manuel Neuer (Germany)
Neuer, a goalkeeper for Bayern Munich and Germany, is one of the best in his time.
He was selected for the tournament’s best team and won the 2014 World Cup.
By the time of the 2026 World Cup, Neuer will be 40. However, six goalkeepers have participated in the competition after that age, so it is likely he will.
Sergio Busquets (Spain)
One of the top holding midfielders over the past 20 years, Busquets has made it possible for some of his iconic Barcelona and Spain teammates to advance with their play.
But at 34, his influence and legs are no longer what they once were.
It is difficult to see the World Cup champion from 2010 playing again in four years.