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Luka Modric (r) celebrating a goal. Reuters
Does retirement beckon for veteran La Liga players?
A Look At La Liga

Does retirement beckon for veteran La Liga players?

It's the time of year when football's equivalent of the Rolling Stones must make the decision whether to hang up their boots or give it one more go

Friday, 17 May 2024, 20:33

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It's that awkward time of the year when football's equivalent of the Rolling Stones must make the decision whether to hang up the boots or give it one more go.

There are 18 players who are beyond the age of 36 in La Liga; most are still entertaining us when they could be drawing a pension. In fact, many of them are the most influential players at their clubs.

Old-timers Luka Modrić, Toni Kroos and Nacho have given Real Madrid the edge above all others. Where would Barcelona be without Robert Lewandowski? Cristhian Stuani has weighed in with 13 goals for season sensations Girona.

Understandably, most are only on season-to-season contracts, so now is the time to make big decisions.

The signs are that Modrić may still be strutting his stuff at the age of 39 but not at Real Madrid. For club and country, he's the age-defying Peter Pan of football. It looks like he will depart when his contract expires in June.

His German pal Kroos is keeping everyone guessing. He's four years younger than the Croatian and still holding down a starting place. He even came out of international retirement to help his national team as they host this summer's Euros. He's been in vintage form for the Spanish champions and understandably they are keen to re-engage his services.

One veteran who looks to be saying adiós is Nacho Fernández. He's skippered the side this season and has never been more valuable. After 23 years at Real Madrid, he could move anywhere in the world. It appears that he's set on soccer in the States; it's good news for MLS fans, not so good for Lionel Messi who won't look forward to a reunion with a tough opponent.

It's a strange situation at Barcelona with Robert Lewandowski. He doesn't have the energy of his former self, but he's still one of the most lethal scorers in the top level; his stats are incredible: 24 goals and nine assists in 46 appearances. He's still got his eyes on the Pichichi award for La Liga's leading scorer; he's only three goals off the top.

The big issue is the €270m wage cap imposed on Barça; it's reported that Lewandowski will earn €28m of that next season. They need him as a player, but could do without his wage rise. His agent has made it clear that he's determined to remain in a city he loves and honour his contract rather than head into semi-retirement in Saudi Arabia.

There are no such issues for another golden goal-getter. Stuani; the 37-year-old captain of Girona, is tied to the Catalan club for another season, the inaugural Champions League season that's he's helped to achieve.

One farewell will be Sergio Ramos. A true Liga legend is negotiating his autumn days with a newly formed club in San Diego. And the final word must go to Lucas Pérez who bought out his own contract to head home to A Coruña after two decades earning his fame and fortune around Europe. It cost him €400,000 to leave Cádiz, but bought him the chance to write his name into folklore: he scored the goal to promote Deportivo, the former Champions of Spain, from the third tier back to the Segunda.

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