Sir Stanley Matthews, Roger Milla, Teddy Sheringham, Amedeo Carboni, Paolo Maldini, Ryan Giggs and Kazuyoshi Miura are just some of the notable players who defied Father Time and continued playing professional football well past the average player’s expiry date.
Here are 10 aging players who could be worth a punt in the January transfer window. The prerequisite is that the player in question has to be 30 years or older.
This list is not exhaustive, so feel free to comment below with your suggestions.
Cacau was anonymous as he was shut down by a 35-year-old Jens Langeneke during Stuttgart's goalless draw against Fortuna Düsseldorf.
In his pomp, Cacau would have dragged Langeneke all over the field.
The 31-year-old has pedigree, he's a shrewd operator and would be a good addition to a mid-tier Premier League team.
He recently handed the club an ultimatum by telling Bild (via FIFA.com):
I have been thinking a lot about what has not been working over the past 18 months and the main reason is that I have not been allowed to play in my favourite position. I cannot show my full strength as the lone striker. If I do continue playing here, then I must play in my position. But if I carry on getting so few appearances, then I can forget about my dream of playing at the World Cup in Brazil. I will listen to offers and if everything is right, then I can imagine leaving—I want to play.
Florent Malouda has been given the Winston Bogarde treatment.
Management doesn't want the Frenchman sticking around, so they're treating him like dirt by forcing him to train with the U-21s.
A few years ago, he was one of the best players in the league, and now he isn't even training with the first team. Talk about a dramatic fall from grace.
Malouda has always had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He's technically proficient, a good passer and will finish his chances.
Don't let his recent performances sway you about him because whilst they've been terrible, keep in mind, this is an alpha male being disrespected. Of course, he isn't going to give it his all for Chelsea.
To get the club back, Malouda is milking his inflated contract by doing diddly-squat.
Petulance aside, he is a technically skilled player, who will be invaluable to a mid-tier topflight club.
Nacho has grafted, grunted and gone through the pain barrier for the sake of his club.
He's the left-sided version of Javi Venta—elite ball-winner, strong-willed and a well-rounded defender.
Another facet that both players share is the tendency to overachieve with a limited skill set.
Having quality left-backs is rare, so perhaps a lower-tier Premier League club should think about signing Nacho.
If Dejan Stanković wasn't such a selfless player, he would have scored more goals and provided more assists.
His versatility, his desire to be a team player and his work ethic sadly forced him to play workman-like roles over the years, which reduced his productivity in the final third of his career.
As an attacker, he had it all—astonishingly accurate long-range shooter, could boss the midfield, possessed wonderful vision and moved excellently without the ball.
Does he really want to retire at Inter nursing an Achilles injury? He's 34, he still can play professional football for a few more years.
If he isn't good enough for European topflight football, he should contemplate about emulating the great Dragan Stojković by moving to the J. League. Another alternative is to experience life in Brazil like Dejan Petković.
Cédric Barbosa is a late bloomer and like Francesco Lodi last season, the Frenchman's elite displays caught the large majority of football aficionados off-guard.
Barbosa is an elegant technician, who can glide past players and provide accurate incisive passes.
In a 3-0 win over Bastia, he nutmegged Jérémy Choplin and then confidently dispatched the ball into the bottom right corner with a left-footed trivela.
Roberto Trashorras can turn out of trouble, he's a gifted passer and the odd one out at Rayo Vallecano.
His situation mirrors Tuncay's predicament at Stoke City—highly skilled player in the wrong environment.
Trashorras is a smooth operator, but he just doesn't score or provide enough goals. At least with Moussa Dembélé, he could put in some hard tackles.
Trashorras doesn't get stuck in like Javi Fuego, who's one of the most prolific ball-winners in European football.
Michu is pretty mediocre from a technical perspective when you compare him to his compatriots. However he has the heart of a champion and knows how to play his position perfectly.
That is why he managed to get out of Vallecano whereas Trashorras, a former Barcelona Atlètic standout, is still stuck with guys who get more satisfaction kicking players than scoring golazos.
Seeing as Queens Park Rangers are signing nameable footballers, why not submit a bid for the 34-year-old Miroslav Klose?
It would be wonderful for fantasy managers because the creative talents of Junior Hoilett, Park Ji-Sung and Esteban Granero will enable Klose to score 10-15 goals.
Between 2007-2009, Andrey Arshavin was one of the best midfielders in the world.
Defenders couldn't knock him off the ball because he'd generally always dink his way past them. His passing was immaculate and he punished teams—just ask Liverpool.
In the end, Arshavin was replaced by somebody who has the exact same attacking characteristics but is a more complete footballer—we're talking about Santi Cazorla.
It was symbolic that Nenê came on for a notable cameo against Dynamo Kiev with Zlatan Ibrahimović not on the field.
They're not going to connect given that Ibrahimović tried to punch Nenê.
21 goals and 11 assists last season still wasn't good enough for Paris Saint-Germain to extend Nenê's contract.
Instead of chasing the money in Turkey or Russia, Nenê should go to a UEFA Champions League contending team to prove a point to PSG.
He's one of the most talented players in the world right now.
Cristian Molinaro managed to play 65 Serie A games for Juventus compared to Fabrizio Miccoli's 25.
Molinaro is one of the worst players in recent Juve memory whereas Miccoli was an elite player for Fiorentina, Benfica and Palermo.
Having played so many seasons in Europe, he may look for a payday in the Middle East or in China.