Will Euro 2020 be the last major tournament for these veterans?
In the aftermath of Euro 2020, discussing the subject of “age” and “wear and tear” has never been so taboo. The Italian defense is the best example of this, with Bonucci and Chiellini going back the years.
Nevertheless, a discussion will take place with international actors more advanced in their careers. Managers and behind-the-scenes staff will decide whether to keep the experience for World Cup qualifiers or build a younger squad.
After Euro 2020, there are a number of players who could walk away with their heads held high, or could very well be part of the World Cup in Qatar. These players are the most likely to withdraw from another major tournament.
– Giorgio Chiellini (@chiellini) July 11, 2021
There is no doubt in our minds that Chiellini has yet another tournament in him. The 36-year-old will be one more year from now in a month, but his leadership and performance has been outstanding at Euro 2020. The longtime Juventus defender will have a decision in his hands.
Chiellini’s 2020-2021 season contrasted with the durability displayed over the summer. The Italian suffered an ACL tear in August last year in training, limiting him to 16 Serie A starts. He has missed several Champions League group matches with a muscle injury. If he can stay fit and healthy then he is more likely to do Qatar in 2022.
The Zenit St Petersburg club man has been a mainstay of Russian teams for major tournaments for the past two decades. Now at 37, he’s unlikely to stick around for another major tournament. Stranger things have happened, but the mileage seems to have caught up with the former Chelsea man, as evidenced by Euro 2020.
In a group match with Belgium, Zhirkov left with a thigh injury that excluded him from the rest of the tournament. During the Russia World Cup in 2018, Zhrikov also suffered an injury that ruled him out of the later stages of the tournament. The Russian was named to the Euro 2008 tournament squad just thirteen years ago.
– SPORF (@Sporf) June 27, 2021
Pepe, 38, was one of many center-backs who looked far from their age at Euro 2020. His performances with Porto in the Champions League were enough to secure him a starting place for the Portuguese in the tournament. It was not their best race, as the reigning champions lost in the round of 16.
For Pepe, what could work in his favor is the lack of alternative options. Portugal’s center-back was former Southampton player José Fonte, now 37. Luís Neto was their most experienced center-back outside the squad, and he’s 33 years old. Portugal will have many decisions on their backs and could look to the future ahead of Qatar.
Best known for his time in the Premier League with Birmingham City and Sunderland, Seb Larsson has amassed 133 caps for his national team and remains a pillar of their midfield. He was part of the race under Sweden’s radar until the last 16 and still plays a set-piece role for his country.
The question is whether there is someone good enough to replace Larsson, who now plays for AIK in the Swedish league. Nobody comes to mind, and I’m sure Janne Andersson will welcome 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic with open arms during World Cup qualifying. Larsson might still have a job to do for them.
– Goal (@goal) June 11, 2021
It’s a happy birthday ahead of time for Turkish striker Burak Yilmaz, who turns 36 on Thursday. The Lille poacher has experienced a certain renaissance in Ligue 1, helping his team to win their first national championship title in ten years. Yilmaz had 18 goals in all competitions and was a sure-fire choice to score a few at Euro 2020.
This summer’s tournament did not go as planned for the Turks, and Yilmaz was unlucky not to score for them despite several draws together. It was disappointing for those who expected Turkey to be black horses and Yilmaz to be up there in the Golden Shoe conversation. He has a year’s contract left for Lille so if he can replicate last year’s exploits he will likely remain in the international fold.
It might be unfair to pick Vermaelen out of Belgium’s veteran defensive lineup of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen at a handsome combined age of 101. Vermaelen was arguably Belgium’s most consistent defender, especially during his last hurdle against Italy in the quarter-finals. .
While the age might be against him, the football club Vermaelen. The 35-year-old is still under contract with Vissel Kobe’s Japanese side, which will certainly be a step back from his previous days at Barcelona and Arsenal. With Boyata and Denayer waiting backstage, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Vermaelen hang up her international boots.
Honorable mentions – Martin Stekelenburg – Netherlands (38), Andrii Pyatov – Ukraine (37), Craig Gordon – Scotland (38).