It wasn’t long ago that footballers were viewed as walking into the final chapter of their careers as soon as they hit their 30s. Their longevity has improved massively over the past several years. These days, we see plenty of footballers perform at a very high level even in their late 30s.
Most players call it quits on their international footballing career a bit earlier than they do on the domestic circuit. That’s quite understandable as it’s hard to keep up with the rigors of both stages once you’re past your prime.
Some of the legends of the game who were big names in the first decade of the 21st century and even in the 2010s could be playing their final season this time.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at five top footballers who could retire after the 2022-23 campaign.
5. Joaquin Sanchez (Real Betis)
Joaquin Sanchez turned 41 on July 21. He also signed a one-year extension earlier this summer which ties him to the La Liga outfit until next summer. We won’t be surprised if Joaquin decides to hang up his boots after this campaign.
He has made 600 La Liga appearances over the course of 19 seasons, scoring 78 goals and providing 66 assists. Joaquin, who was named the ‘La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year’ in 2002, has won two Copa del Reys with Betis and one with Valencia.
4. Giorgio Chiellini (Los Angeles FC)
Giorgio Chiellini is one of the best defenders of his generation. After an illustrious 18-year stint at Juventus, where he won a record nine consecutive Serie A titles, Chiellini has now moved to Major League Soccer outfit Los Angeles FC.
Having copped a move to LAFC, it is clear that Chiellini has entered the final chapter of his career. He is likely to retire when his contract expires in 2023.
Pepe is one of the best centre-backs of his generation. He is 39 now and is still a regular feature in FC Porto’s starting XI.
However, the Portugal international is likely to call it a day on his professional footballing career at the end of the 2022-23 season.
He wants to take part in the 2022 FIFA World Cup before deciding to retire from international football. Pepe’s current contract with FC Porto expires in the summer of 2023 and he is likely to put a stop to his domestic career once that happens.
2. Gareth Bale (Los Angeles FC)
Gareth Bale is one of the best attackers we’ve seen in the 21st century. Injuries have limited his impact drastically in recent seasons but at the peak of his powers, he was one of the most intimidating forwards around.
Real Madrid signed Bale for a then-world-record fee of £85.1 million in 2013. He formed the legendary attacking trio, the BBC (Benzema, Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo) at Real Madrid. The Welshman picked up three La Liga titles and five Champions League titles during his nine-year stint at the Santiago Bernabeu,
Bale joined Los Angeles FC earlier this summer on a one-year contract. He has suffered a great number of injuries in his career and is likely to call it quits next year.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe. He first gained recognition at Ajax. Since then, he has played for Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.
When he left the Red Devils in 2018 to join MLS outfit Los Angeles Galaxy, it was expected to be the final leg of his career.
Ibrahimovic returned to AC Milan in the 2020 January transfer window. He scored eight goals and provided three assists in 23 Serie A appearances last term as the Rossoneri won the Scudetto.
Ibrahimovic will turn 41 in October and is likely to retire from football when his current deal with AC Milan expires next summer.