If June’s UEFA Nations League matches, World Cup qualifiers and international friendlies have taught us anything, it’s that you can’t rule out the over-30s. This season, the elder statesmen have consistently shown that age is not an obstacle when it comes to shining at the elite level. Especially in the advanced positions.
Once upon a time, when a striker passed the age of 30, it marked the beginning of his decline; that is no longer the case. And with the World Cup just a few months away, you can bet that the race for the Golden Boot will be dominated by those whose international careers have spanned more than a decade. Here are 5 FIFA-trending evergreen strikers ready to lead it at Qatar 2022; each of them will be in their 30s by the time the tournament kicks off.
FIFA Trending strikers 1: Gareth Bale (Wales)
Having left Real Madrid at the end of the 2021-22 season, rumors had it that Gareth Bale was getting ready to hang up his boots. But any plans he might have had for retirement were put on hold after Wales’ decisive game against Ukraine on June 5. scored a hat trick and beat Maicon, the Nerazzuri’s Brazilian international right back, to a pulp – Bale was one of Europe’s highest-rated stars.
He moved from Spurs to Real Madrid in 2013 for a world-record 100 million euros and despite the high fee, he has proved to be a good value, stepping up on several big occasions to help Los Blancos win 18 trophies, including 3 in La Liga and 5 in the UEFA Champions League. titles.
In recent years, recurring injuries and conflicting relations with the club’s management (especially former head coach Zinedine Zidane) have limited his appearances at the Bernabeu and made him fall out of favor with the fans. When his contract expired at the end of the season, many people suspected that he had played his last game in club soccer. But then came the game against Ukraine. Bale has always had a knack for delivering a winning performance for Wales and he did so once again in Cardiff, putting his gritty body on the line and scoring the only goal of the game with a free kick that was deflected home by Andriy. Yarmolenko. With a World Cup on the horizon, expect Bale to find a new club soon. And don’t bet against more heroics when Wales makes its first final appearance since 1958.
FIFA Trending strikers 2: Karim Benzema (France)
He may be 34 years old, but Karim Benzema has arguably just had his best season as a professional footballer. And that’s saying a lot for a player who has won an incredible 29 major trophies at club level in France and Spain. In 44 appearances in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League in 2021-22, Benzema has scored 42 goals. In all competitions, he scores on average once every 89 minutes. So, as far as goal scorers go at any given time, he’s as close to a safe bet as you can get. At times – especially in the Champions League – he has dragged Real Madrid to the line; his 4 goals in the two-goal epic against Chelsea was an example.
Now, in a World Cup year, defending champion France is also pinning its hopes on Benzema. And while Les Bleus didn’t have the best run of results in June – a shock Nations League loss to Denmark was followed by a 1-1 draw with Croatia – the favorite to win the Ballon D’or will also be backed to win the World Cup’s Golden Boot.
FIFA Trending strikers 3: Son Heung-min (South Korea)
Is there a better two-footed player in world soccer than Son? The South Korean is coming off his best season for Tottenham, topping the English Premier League’s scoring charts with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Under Antonio Conte, Spurs have flourished. But it was Son who was their choice of stars with his blistering pace, boundless energy and ability to score virtually any type of goal (one-on-one, headers or long-range efforts).
Back home in Korea, Son is an idol, and given his performances for the national team, it’s no wonder. Wearing the captain’s armband, he made his 100th appearance for the Taegeuk Warriors in a 2-0 win over Chile on June 6. And, fittingly, scored in stoppage time to bring his international total to 32 goals. In July, Son will turn 30. But there’s no indication that his powers are waning. If anything, his best is yet to come.
FIFA Trending strikers 4: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Including a seven-time Ballon D’or winner in a list of forwards to watch at a World Cup seems obvious. But because Messi’s 2021-22 club form was (by his insanely high standards) disappointing, some observers have suggested he might be over the hill.
The Argentine scored just 11 goals in 34 games for Paris Saint-Germain last season. Compare that to his 2020-21 campaign, when he scored 38 times in 47 games for Barcelona, or 2019-20 when he scored 36 goals in 54 appearances for the Catalan club, and suggestions of decline don’t seem far off the mark. .
However, this is Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player of his generation. You write him off at your peril, especially with a World Cup on the horizon. On June 5, just three days after inspiring his team to a 3-0 victory over Italy in the “Finalissima” (a match between the South American and European champions), the 34-year-old reminded everyone of his incredible ability, scoring five goals in a friendly against Estonia. Golden boot? Don’t bet against Messi.
FIFA Trending strikers 5: Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon)
Mention a 30-year-old African striker with the potential to beat everyone at the World Cup and the name that immediately comes to mind is Senegal’s Sadio Mane, who was on fire in 2021-22. But there’s another guy not to be overlooked: the Cameroonian Vincent Aboubakar.
Now playing for his soccer club in Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, Aboubakar could fly completely under the radar in Qatar. The Indomitable Lions skipper has an impressive record for his country and his recent form has been formidable – he has scored 8 goals in his last 9 appearances. Could he propel Cameroon into the knockout stage?
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