While the World Cup is a special occasion to see some of the best players represent their country.
With the tournament taking place once every four years, it means that it will be the final one for many players, as is the case at every world cup.
For billions of watchers and hundreds of thousands of fans, it will be the last time they see special players on this world stage.
Its a sad thought especially when you consider how good the current generation of players is.
Which includes some players who are regarded as some of the best to ever take to a football field.
So who are these players who are likely going to be bowing out after the 2022 edition of the competition?
Well in this post I will be naming some top-class players, who will likely play their last World Cup in Qatar this upcoming winter.
Table of Contents
1. Lionel Messi
If it weren’t for a recent Copa America win not only against rivals Brazil but in their home country, Messi would probably have looked back at his international career as a disappointment.
He had yet to achieve any trophies with all his success at the club level, where he has won many league titles and a Champions League title before 2021.
Painfully close in Brazil, Messi was on the losing side against Germany in the 2014 final, losing one nil after extra time.
After being defeated by Chile in both the Copa America 2015 and 16 editions, he endured further disappointment.
We all know Messi would love to win the World Cup before he retires, as, after all, why would he come out of international retirement multiple times when he could of just focused on club football.
However, he will likely only have one more shot at it.
By the time 2026 comes round, he will be 39 by the time the World Cup final occurs.
Saying that there is no dead certain when it comes to Messi.
After all, there have been numerous times over his illustrious career that you would question if he is actually human with some of the outrageous plays he has pulled off in his career.
But for as good as Messi is, to see him representing Argentina in 2026, with the age factor, the content of a Copa America title, and recent international retirements, it is unlikely.
2. Angel Di-Maria
An international and club teammate of Messi, Angel Di-Maria, has made hints about his future too.
He recently enjoyed success with the Copa America win, with him scoring the only goal in the final that beat Brazil.
A skillful player with one of the best-left foots in the game has been regarded as a top-tier winger for years now.
However, with that said, the footballer will be a few months away from his 35th birthday when Qatar comes around.
So with him being 38 in 2026 and himself even dropping hints over the start of 2022 that he will retire.
Its looking likely international fans will see his last appearance on the world stage in the desert.
3. Edinson Cavani
The Uruguay national team has been mostly the same at the last couple of world cups,
However, with many of those star players now on the wrong side of 30.
We will probably witness an end of an era at the end of 2022.
With a number of urugrayan stars set to play there last World Cup in Qatar 2022.
The first name is Cavani who has been phenomenal for his country over the years, helping them to reach the quarters in 2018 and the second round in 2014.
However, the Uruguayan who is set to leave Manchester United will likely play his last world cup aged 35.
4. Diego Godin
Another member of the senior Uruguay national team is captain Diego Godin who has been a leader for his country.
Not just that, but Godin has been classed as one of the best center-backs of the past ten years.
He became a fan favorite at Atletico Madrid, keeping the Los Colchoneros backline sturdy for nine years.
He is back in South America but playing for Atletico Mineiro after two short stints in Italy with Inter and Cagliari.
With Godin 36 right now, he will likely appear at his last world cup later this year.
5. Luis Suarez
Spearheading the Urugrays attack we have not just had the luxury of watching Cavani for many years but also Luis Suarez.
Now Luis Suarez has been one of the most clinical finishers in the game over the previous decade.
The 35-year-old was brilliant for Liverpool in the early 2010s and continued his impressive scoring form for Barcelona.
Playing for rivals Atletico Madrid, he has somewhat slowed down a little bit, which is to be expected.
However not only still remains a threat, most of the bench nowadays, but has dismissed rumors of retiring this season.
Saying that, though, and with Uruguay looking towards a revamp, its likely that at 39, we will see Luis Suarez in USA/Canada.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t shown much sign of slowing down for someone who has turned 37 in the early months of 2022.
The multiple Ballon d’Or winners and Euro 2016 winner has had yet another solid league campaign, unsurprisingly reaching double figures for goals with Manchester United.
The Portuguese forward is set to appear in his 5th World Cup final later this year, with some thinking it may be his last.
After all, he will be 41 by the time the next comes around, but with him still being his country’s star man, you simply never know.
He’s adapted his style a lot like Zlatan to being more of a target man, and with him looking after himself, there is a chance he could be at the next world cup.
7. Manuel Neuer
After a disappointing 2018 World Cup campaign, several of Germany’s veterans were left out of the squad as they looked to rebuild the team.
Manuel Neuer, however, has kept his place and remains his country’s No.1 keeper in what could be his last appearance.
The German has been, without a doubt, one of the world’s best since his 2011 move to Bayern Munich.
But with Germany being spoilt for choice with younger quality keepers in Ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp, plus the fact Neuer will be 40 next time around, it is likely this will be his last world cup.
8. Karim Benzema
A scandal in 2014 saw Benzema, along with former teammate Mathieu Valbuena being disregarded by France coach Didier Deschamps.
So while Karim has been a consistent performer and a top finisher, he missed out on the 2016 euros and the 2018 World Cup.
With the 33-year-old hitting blistering form over the past few seasons scoring bags of goals, he was recalled.
He has since scored nine goals in 13 games and has shown his country what they have missed.
However, while Benzema is scoring goals for fun right now, he will be 37 at the next world cup, meaning it could be the last one we see him at.
9. Thomas Muller
Thomas Muller was one of a few dropped players following the 2018 World Cup exit.
However, Muller’s form over the past few years was not to be ignored, gaining a recall.
Therefore he is set to play a role for the four time winners in Qatar this winter.
Germany are blessed with young talents in that attacking midfield position, so with Muller aged 32 right now, it is expected that this will be his last.
10. Luka Modric
While stars of the Croatian national team Ivan Rakitic and Mandzukic have left the national team, the long-serving Luka Modric, at now 36, still remains.
After an impressive 2018 campaign where he inspired his country to reach the final, he went on to win the Ballon D’Or the same year.
Even though Modric is still playing very well and a lot for Croatia and Real Madrid, this may be his last world cup.
Like many on this list, the attacking midfielder will be in his 40s, so either this world cup or the 2024 euros will likely be his final international tournament.
11. Sergio Busquets
Busquets is a player who has spent much of his career under the radar, despite how good a player he is.
His understanding of the game in the middle of the park, his control, and his passing are all second to none.
Now unlike many players on this list, Busquets is someone who can leave the international game having won it all.
He has not just won the Champions League at club level three times but the Euros in 2012 and the World Cup in 2010.
12. Jordi Alba
Alba has been a quality attacking full-back for many years, earning a top wage for Catalan giants Barcelona for the past 10+ years.
Like Busquets, Jordi Alba is one of the last remaining players for Spain that were part of the successful back-to-back Euro and World Cup campaigns.
While club teammates in Pique and Iniesta retired in 2018, it is likely to be an end of an era when Alba and Busquets will likely follow suit after Qatar.
14. Thiago Silva
While Thiago Silva will be turning 38 before the world cup, there is little doubt of whether he will feature for Brazil in 2022.
As long as he doesn’t get injured, the commanding centre half should be a first-team starter and Marquinhos, as they look to win the title for the first time since 2022.
For a 38 year old to be considered a starter for a top international side is crazy, but it is expected that this may well be a farewell.
With him being 42 in 2026, its hard to envision him playing in the next world cup.
There are two main reasons for this, one being he will likely retire from football as he will be into his fourtys.
The second reason, if he was to stick around, would be the depth in Brazlian centre backs, with Gabriel of Arsenal and Eder Militao of Real Madrid.
Funnily enough if the question on whether Pepe would play his world cup in 2018 was asked, most people would be sure of it.
As back in 2018, he was 35 and at an age where most players tend to retire from international football if they haven’t done so already.
However, when Qatar comes along, he or Jose Fonte will likely partner with the promising Ruben Dias in the heart of that Portugal defense.
While Pepe has kept himself fit, and still plays to a high standard at FC Porto, the lack of squad depth in this position for Portugal is definitely a factor in why he is the first choice.
Pepe will be 43 in 2026, so chances are we won’t see them, but with him likely to partner with Ruben Dias in December, I guess you will never know with him.
16. Eden Hazard
Unfortunately for Hazard, ever since he moved from Real Madrid, it hasn’t really worked out.
A combination of poor form, injuries, and out of favor from the manager, as seen a world-class player see very few minutes.
But while club football has sucked for him, for country he has played a key role and will likely do so again this year as Belgium attempt to win big with their golden generation.
With it being a golden generation, that most players are around that 30 mark, we may not see several top Belgium stars in the next world cup, one of note being Eden Hazard.
17. Gareth Bale
If Wales makes history and reaches the World Cup, it likely will be Gareth Bale’s first world cup and his last too.
An impressive qualifying campaign that Bale has spearheaded has put them within whiskers of a group stage appearance in December.
However, with Gareth Bales’s rumors of retiring from international football, dating back to their exit in the 2020 Euros, its unlikely he will play at the next World Cup.