The 2022 FIFA World Cup is right around the corner and we’re only two months away now. The World Cup is the beautiful game’s showpiece event and most of the biggest stars will feature in the tournament.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is likely to be the last for some of the best footballers of a generation. Many of the legends of the modern era are now in the twilight of their careers and are unlikely to be around by the time the 2026 edition arrives.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at five legendary forwards who will most likely be playing their last FIFA World Cup this year.
#5 Thomas Muller (Germany)
Thomas Muller has been a World Cup hero for Germany over the years. He has scored 10 goals and provided six assists in 16 World Cup appearances for Die Mannschaft. In 116 appearances across all competitions for his national team, Muller has scored 44 goals and provided 40 assists.
Suffice to say, he has been an indispensable part of the German national team over the past decade and more. Muller is set to be a vital cog in Hansi Flick’s side who will look to redeem themselves after their early exit from the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Bayern Munich forward is now 33 and is unlikely to be around for the 2026 World Cup.
#4 Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Robert Lewandowski is arguably the best striker in the game right now. He has picked up the European Golden Shoe in the last two seasons and is currently on a roll at his new club Barcelona. Lewandowski played a crucial role in helping Poland secure World Cup qualification as well.
His record with the national team is quite amazing. The 34-year-old has scored 76 goals and provided 28 assists in 132 appearances across all competitions for Poland in his international career.
Lewandowski will be 38 by the time the 2026 edition of the World Cup arrives and we’re afraid he’ll have hung his boots by then.
#3 Neymar Jr. (Brazil)
Neymar Jr. is one of the best forwards of the modern era. He is a joy to watch on the football field thanks to his silky skills and unreal vision. Neymar has been extremely effective for Brazil on the international front.
Although he is not as old as the rest of the players on this list, Neymar is unlikely to be around for the 2026 FIFA World Cup by his own admission. He admitted in DAZN’s exclusive documentary, ‘Neymar & The Line Of Kings’ that the 2022 FIFA World Cup could be his last. He said (via Business Standard):
“DAZN’s exclusive new documentary, Neymar & The Line Of Kings.
“I see it as my last because I don’t know if I have the strength of mind to deal with football any more. So I’ll do everything to turn up well, do everything to win with my country, to realise my greatest dream since I was little. And I hope I can do it.”
In 119 appearances for the Brazil national team, Neymar has scored 74 goals and provided 53 assists. That’s more than one goal + assist per game.
#2 Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest footballers of all time. He is certainly the greatest goalscorer the game has ever seen. Ronaldo is the leading scorer in men’s international football with 117 goals in 189 appearances for the Portugal national team.
The 37-year-old looks to be in the final chapter of his career and he will be 41 by the time the 2026 edition of the World Cup pulls up. The absolute machine that he is, we won’t be shocked if he still manages to be around but it looks quite unlikely.
In all probability, this World Cup could be the last one for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
#1 Lionel Messi (Argentina)
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is in do-or-die territory for arguably the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has lost a yard of pace in recent years. Although his playmaking and close control are all world-class, this is likely to be his last shot at winning the World Cup.
Messi has had an extremely illustrious career and if he could win the World Cup, he’d complete football. In 162 appearances across all competitions for La Albiceleste, Messi has scored 86 goals and provided 51 assists.
He is likely to give it his all this time around and Argentina will fancy their chances after their triumphant run at the 2021 Copa America.