It is true that the World Cup in Qatar is historic. Not only will it be the last of the 32 participants, not only the first (and hopefully the last) to be held in the middle of a club season, but it will also be the final in the careers of many legends and just famous players. In four years, we are unlikely to see them on the fields of the USA, Canada and Mexico.
The following list appears.
Lionel Messi (35 years old)
“Will this be my last World Cup? Yes, probably yes. I’m counting down the days until the tournament. A little anxious and nervous at the same time,” Messi said in early October. Taking into account the greatness of the player, it would be possible not to include Leo in this list, because in 2026 he will be 39 – a lot, but the Argentinean from those who are under the fourth decade can be at the highest level. But if Messi himself says that this is his last World Cup, then it seems that it is true.
The Argentinian approaches the upcoming championship highly motivated. He has already tasted victory with the national team, but he still hasn’t won the main tournament. A victory for Argentina will destroy the last trump card of supporters of the claim that Pele and Maradona are greater players than Leo.
He will definitely be the main part of the national team. And can it be different when the player has 23 points according to the goal + assist system in 16 matches of the club season?
Cristiano Ronaldo (37 years old)
But with the second hero of the era, everything is not so clear. Cristiano plays less (13 matches in the club season, 5 of which are in the Europa League), and his indicators are much more modest. Just three goals and one assist. And in the Premier League, there is only one goal in general. The Portuguese slipped so much for the first time in his career. Something similar happened with Messi a year ago, but Leo managed to find a way out to his usual level. Krish has intra-team conflict added to his gaming problems.
In this regard, it is quite possible to assume that at the 2022 World Cup we will see the Portuguese even as a substitute. Although in the last matches for the national team only against Spain, he came off the bench, in other cases he appeared from the first minutes. But we do not rule out the possibility that Santos will reconsider the role of Ronaldo, given the unstable playing practice of the number 7 in the club.
Cristiano has not yet declared that the World Cup in Qatar will be his last, but considering his age, it is very likely. The tournament will be his fifth in a row. The best achievement is the semi-final in 2006. The best personal achievement is 4 goals at the 2018 World Cup (but an early exit from the playoffs). It is doubtful that the Portuguese will repeat the sensational success of 2016, but Krish will try to light up at the end. If they will – opponents and coaching staff.
Luka Modrych (37 years old)
Luka took part in the 2006 World Cup, even though he was a substitute, not playing a total of 30 minutes. But in 2018, he was already the main character of the Croatian national team, which reached the final, for which Modric received the Golden Ball. Four years later, he is still the leader, captain and engine of the Croatian national team. Of course, it is unlikely that they will be able to repeat the success of the last tournament, but, at least, they should be expected to enter the playoffs.
In the last three matches for the national team, Modric has two assists. And in Real Madrid, he is still an important player, despite the change of generations in Madrid. But age shows. He missed the recent match against RB Leipzig in the Champions League due to muscle fatigue. So it is hardly worth expecting that we will see 41-year-old Luka at the World Cup-2026.
Thomas Müller (33 years old)
Perhaps the most underrated legend in football history. Thomas is a good guy who is ready to play almost any position in midfield and attack, rarely quarrels with anyone and always gives his all on the field. This helped him to enter the top ten scorers in the history of the World Cup. He currently has 10 goals in 13 matches. It is unlikely that he will reach the record of Myroslav Klose (16 goals), but he will definitely try to at least get closer to the indicator of another compatriot – his namesake Gerd (14 goals).
The main thing is that Thomas is still the main player in the German national team, so there will be plenty of opportunities to increase the goal statistics. Mueller’s candidacy is probably one of the most controversial on this list. Given his performance, it is quite possible that we will see him in the national team at the age of 37.
Sergi Busquets (34 years old)
The only player from the Spanish team at the victorious 2010 World Cup who still plays for the national team. Moreover, Busquets is still the main and important player of the national team. And although Rodri is already knocking on the door to become the main defender of Spain, at the upcoming tournament it will still be Sergi who will play at the start. His experience will allow Luis Enrique to be more flexible in using the central midfielders who will be above Busquets – Gavi, Pedri, Koke, Soler. The almost 140-match veteran will definitely be useful in the locker room as well.
A change of generations is expected in the coming years not only in the Spanish national team, but also in Barcelona. We will not be surprised if we soon see Busquets playing for big money in some Qatar championship. So this WC is definitely the last for Sergi.