From Messi to Suarez to Benzema, these are the famous players who could bow out in the big leagues.
The World Cup of international football that starts in Qatar on Sunday should be the last one for many sports professionals.
Here is a list of the top 10 players who are expected to win the final of the most popular tournament in the sport.
Lionel Messi, Argentina
Qatar 2022 will be Messi’s fifth World Cup. The 35-year-old, who plays for French club Paris St Germain, will be hoping to build on Argentina’s Copa America victory last year and win the one trophy that has so far eluded him in his senior career.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
The talk surrounding the Portuguese star may have been driven by his desire to win Portugal his first World Cup. But instead, Cristiano Ronaldo joins the campaign under the fumes of a scathing interview in which he accused his club Manchester United of hanging over him.
Luka Modric, Croatia
Although Modric’s age belies his performance, the 37-year-old can’t mess with the times forever. The winner of the Ballon d’Or at the 2018 World Cup in Russia – the award given to the tournament’s best player – will be hoping to take his country one step further than last time, when Croatia lost to France in the final.
Luis Suárez, Uruguay
The World Cup is an important chapter in the legend of Luis Suarez – the goal that saved Ghana in 2010, the goal against England in 2014 and being bitten by Leonardo Bonucci are all part of the World Cup tradition. At 35 years old, Uruguay will be hoping for a better performance as they prepare to face South Korea, Uruguay and – as expected – Ghana.
Thiago Silva, Brazil
The World Cup in Russia should be Thiago Silva’s last. But, the Chelsea centre-back has shown no signs of slowing down and despite being 38 years old, he is still one of the best defenders in the world.
Yuto Nagamoto, Japan
The 36-year-old is set to become the first Japanese player to appear in four World Cups.
“I’m 36 but physically fit, I’ve played against big players in Europe and at the World Cup. I don’t forget the experiences that are etched into my cells. I can definitely fight whatever kind of players or teams that come my way,” he said in an interview with The Japan Times.
Manuel Neuer, Germany
“You never know, but I assume it will be my last World Cup,” German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said in an interview earlier this month.
While the 2014 World Cup winner will be 40 by the time the next World Cup rolls along, he did mention that Qatar 2022 “doesn’t necessarily” have to be his last appearance on the global stage.
Karim Benzema, France
For all that he has achieved with Real Madrid, Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema is yet to have a defining tournament for France. He was not included in Les Blues’ 2018 winning squad and given his age and the level of talent in France’s ranks, this will likely be his last chance to make an impact at the World Cup.
Aymen Mathlouthi, Tunisia
At 38, veteran goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi is one of the oldest players taking part in this year’s World Cup. Mathlouthi was Tunisia’s captain in the last World Cup and has returned to the team after a three-year absence with four goals in the tournament.
Sergio Busquets, Spain
At 34, Sergio Busquets has shown signs that old age is catching up with him. But, he remained an important member of Luis Enrique’s team in Spain.
“If we can control the quality of the game, and make it the way we want it to be, which means controlling and controlling the defenders on the pitch, then ‘Busi’ is still number 1 in his position,” said Enrique. in an interview with ESPN.