Is age really just a number? Check it out as we go through the Top 10 players who continue to excel in their thirties.
Picking a Top 10 list for the best footballers over the age of 30 isn’t an easy process for anyone.
Recently, we’ve seen several big-names defy the laws of mother nature to continue performing at the highest level. It’s happening more frequently as we begin the 2020 decade.
Players used to fade away rather drastically in their thirties, with injuries occurring more frequently. Recovery times also took even longer than usual.
Yet, football is seeing a growing trend in ageing stars thanks to the advancements of medical treatments and technology. The last Ballon d’Or winner in his twenties was Lionel Messi in 2015.
So with this in mind, we give you the Top 10 players who continue to excel in their thirties.
10. Karim Benzema
The French striker has replaced Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid’s star man in the last two seasons.
Not even a 29-year-old Eden Hazard has done anything about it, with Benzema seemingly unstoppable under Zinedine Zidane.
The 32-year-old’s contributions have grown significantly and he will likely play a part in Real Madrid’s title aspirations this season.
9. Luis Suarez
The Barcelona footballer can still produce moments of magic even though he is now 33 years old. That stunning backheel goal against RCD Mallorca last December was proof of that.
“It’s the best goal of my career,” said Suarez.
“I knew that it was a tight angle and the last option I had was to hit it with my heel. I was looking to bounce it because I had very little chance against the goalkeeper.”
And despite a sluggish start to this season, Suarez has impressed yet again for Barcelona.
8. Angel Di Maria
While Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have been in and out of the PSG team this season, Di Maria has filled in superbly.
The 32-year-old is still clearly at the top his game and remains as determined as ever to win a first Champions League title since 2014.
11 goals and 21 assists in 37 appearances across all competitions this season is a solid effort for Di Maria.
7. Jordi Alba
Upon completing a €14m transfer from fellow La Liga side Valencia in 2012, Alba has been an ever-present figure in the Barcelona line-up.
Players and pundits alike even regard the Spanish footballer as one of the planet’s finest full-backs.
But the dreaded moment of retirement is beckoning with Alba celebrating his 31st birthday in March.
Still, the former Valencia man continues to outshine his young successor Junior Firpo at Camp Nou.
6. Luka Modric
Nearly eight years later, it’s incredible to think that fans deemed Modric as La Liga’s worst signing in 2012.
But spending €35m to sign the Croatian from Tottenham has to be one of the bargains of the century.
Modric has since developed into one of the world’s best footballers and regularly features in both FIFA and UEFA Team of the Years.
The 34-year-old still possess a killer first touch on the ball and can accurately pull off short and long-range passes.
Undoubtedly, Modric’s biggest moment was ending Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s duopoly of the Ballon d’Or award in 2018.
5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
While he’s approaching his forties now, Ibrahimovic has scored an impressive 53 goals in 58 games for LA Galaxy.
It made him the most in-demand free agent in the January transfer window, with AC Milan winning the race.
Now all that remains to be seen is how Zlatan performs in the Serie A over the upcoming months as he attempts to restore Milan’s glory days. It’s been an ok start, so far.
One thing for sure, though, is that it’s never boring when Ibrahimovic is in town.
4. Sergio Ramos
The Real Madrid captain has enjoyed a stellar career over the last 15 years in football.
What makes Ramos unique for a defender is his scoring ability, with over 100 career goals for club and country.
The 34-year-old even scored a career-best of 11 goals in all competitions last season for Real Madrid.
And while he may be in the twilight phase of his career, Ramos is still one of the world’s best defenders.
The former Sevilla man enjoys ball-playing from defence and triggers counter-attacks through long-range passes. He’s also a tough one to crack for attackers given his strong build and aggressive defending.
3. Robert Lewandowski
While he may have only turned 31 last August, Lewandowski is simply too good to ignore.
The Pole striker has been unstoppable for Bayern Munich this season in both the Bundesliga and Champions League.
There’s just no stopping him, with defences across Europe all crumbling when facing Lewandowski.
He’s even targeting Gerd Muller’s record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga campaign.
2. Lionel Messi
Leo is one of the greatest in history after nearly two decades of continuous success with Barcelona.
Placing him second in this list isn’t a judgement on his abilities or where he stands on the all-time greats list – that’s for you guys to decide.
This just indicates how Messi has performed in his early thirties.
And the Barcelona captain was exceptional by continuing to display his godly talents to their fullest extent.
Like many of his rivals, Messi had to change his game upon becoming 30 in 2017.
“Before I was robbing the ball and making my play [alone], or at least trying to make my play,” he told Diario Sport in 2018.
“Now I try to play more for the team. To pass the ball more and to not be such a finisher or so selfish.
“I try to move the team from one position to another. But I keep running as much as ever, just in a different way.”
51 goals in 50 games last season and a record sixth Ballon d’Or proves that Messi is still at the peak of his abilities.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
You wouldn’t think that Ronaldo is 35 by the way he plays for Juventus and Portugal.
This has got to be one of his greatest accomplishments as most footballers in their thirties dwindle out altogether.
But Ronaldo is no ordinary man and continues to set the bar high even at this stage of his career. Therefore, it’s only right he gets the nod for #1 on this list.
That brilliant header in December’s win over Sampdoria, meanwhile, sent the internet into a meltdown. And his 11 game scoring-run in the Serie A this year proves just how magnificent he remains today.
Many still rate him as the best footballer in the world, making Ronaldo the favourite to win the 2020 Ballon d’Or.