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World Football: Power Ranking the Top 25 Current Players over 30

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJanuary 8, 2017

World Football: Power Ranking the Top 25 Current Players over 30

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    Recently retired Fabio Cannavaro won the FIFA World Player of the Year at 33 years of age. Yet in world football, there has always been a strong emphasis on out with the old and in with the youth. 

    When you turn 30, for some players it’s the beginning of the end. Just look at former Aston Villa player Lee Hendrie who is playing in Indonesia. Then there’s former Leeds United and Liverpool player Harry Kewell who having been cut by Galatasaray, is holding Football Federation Australia to a king’s ransom regarding his possible appearance in the A-League. 

    That being said let us look at the top 25 current world football players 30 years or over who, despite their age, have demonstrated this season that they still have what it takes to play football at a high level. 

25. Ronaldinho

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    Age: 31

    Club: Flamengo

    Position: Attacking midfielder                                                                              

    Having had such a positive impact for A.C. Milan the season before, Ronaldinho started the 2010-11 season out of favour, and when he did play, he looked lethargic and inefficient. 

    He had expressed a desire to return to his boyhood club Grêmio, but that changed when Flamengo threw money at him. 

    He’s beginning to find the back of net with consummate ease. 

24. Sergio Ballesteros

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    Age: 35

    Club: Levante

    Position: Centre back 

    The name Ballesteros conjures up thoughts of elegance, talent and magic, due to the late great golfer Seve Ballesteros. 

    Sergio Ballesteros is the complete opposite, considering he’s a real tough nut of a defender who wears his heart on his sleeve. 

    Whilst Felipe Caicedo’s goals ultimately saved Levante, one also has to factor in Ballesteros’ leadership and defending. 

23. Sergio Pinto

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    Age: 30

    Club: Hannover

    Position: Defensive midfielder/right winger 

    Hannover’s surprise fourth place finish in the Bundesliga can be attributed to Didier Ya Konan’s goal scoring form.

    Though behind Ya Konan was the rugged, hardworking midfield grit of Sergio Pinto. 

    Also deployed as a right winger, I think Pinto’s best games were as a defensive midfielder, during which he worked his socks off. 

    The fact Kicker ranked him as the 19th highest rated midfielder in the Bundesliga , a league brimming with adventurous, entertaining and attack-minded players, speaks volumes to the kind of season Pinto had. 

22. Anthony Réveillère

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    Age: 31

    Club: Lyon

    Position: Right back 

    For seven straight seasons, Lyon won Ligue 1, yet they haven’t won been champions since the 2007-08 season. 

    This season was no different, and with Lyon struggling in patches, up stepped their second longest serving player, Anthony Réveillère.

    Réveillère’s career for the French national team has unfortunately been spaced between Lilian Thuram, Willy Sagnol and now Bacary Sagna—unsurprisingly Réveillère has only accumulated 11 caps for the French national team. 

    This season, Réveillère was Lyon’s most consistent player, and Ligue 1’s best right back. 

21. Florent Malouda

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    Age: 31

    Club: Chelsea

    Position: Attacking midfielder/left winger

    Florent Malouda started the season on fire just like Chelsea, scoring five goals in the first five games. 

    Yet then he went missing, at one point failing to score in 12 consecutive games. 

    For Chelsea fans, he is a frustrating player because you know he can produce more and play better. 

    Given the amount of time spent veering up front, it’s odd he only scored 14 goals—he was Chelsea’s top scorer in the English Premier League. 

20. Francesco Totti

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    Age: 34

    Club: Roma

    Position: Centre forward/Attacking midfielder 

    Claudio Ranieri has been sacked so many times that you wonder why he allowed his relationship with Roma living legend Francesco Totti deteriorate to the extent that it did. 

    Totti played so poorly under Ranieri that clearly something was wrong with the manager-captain relationship. 

    When friend and former Roma teammate Vincenzo Montella took over the reigns as caretaker, Totti began turning back the years with some splendid performances.

    Under Ranieri this season, Totti had six goals and six assists in 27 games, while under Montella this season he had 11 goals and three assists in 13 games.

19. Raúl

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    Age: 34

    Club: Schalke

    Position: Centre forward 

    Perhaps motivated by being deemed surplus by Real Madrid manager José Mourinho, Raúl decided to take his aging body to Schalke. 

    Statistics do not truly reveal Raúl’s contributions as a de facto leader and inspiration to an underachieving and struggling Schalke side which remarkably made the UEFA Champions League semifinals.

18. Clarence Seedorf

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    Age: 35

    Club: AC Milan

    Position: Attacking midfielder 

    It’s amazing after 20 seasons, Clarence Seedorf is still all class, not just with the way he conducts himself but also on the pitch. 

    When the going got tough, manager Massimiliano Allegri relied on Seedorf’s undoubted ability to pull AC Milan over the line. 

    Having signed a deserved one year contract extension, next season may be his last in a Rossoneri shirt.

17. Milivoje Novakovič

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    Age: 32

    Club: Köln

    Position: Centre forward

    An archetypal poacher, Milivoje Novakovič has been a dependable source of goals for Köln. 

    Perhaps not the most likable player on the team, having been stripped of captaincy, Novakovič let his football do the talking this season. 

    He finished as the third top scorer in the Bundesliga, and in typical poacher’s fashion, all 19 of his goals were scored inside the penalty box. 

    It will be interesting to see how Novakovič’s relationship with fiery new manager Ståle Solbakken develops. 

16. Roman Weidenfeller

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    Age: 30

    Club: Borussia Dortmund

    Position: Goalkeeper 

    For a goalkeeper of Roman Weidenfeller’s ability, it’s amazing that he has yet to represent the German national football team. 

    Sure he’s played in an era of Oliver Kahn, Jens Lehmann, and now Manuel Neuer, but one has to wonder if his omission is political—not even a call up? 

    A few seasons ago, Weidenfeller found his name tarnished for racially abusing Ghanaian-born German international Gerald Asamoah. 

    Though this season, Weidenfeller has been in top form, conceding just 22 goals in 33 Bundesliga games. 

    Though with the preference of Manuel Neuer, and the emergence of young Oliver Baumann as a potential future national goalkeeper, Weidenfeller is running out of time to represent his country at senior level. 

15. Stefano Mauri

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    Age: 31

    Club: Lazio

    Position: Attacking midfielder

    Stefano Mauri is an underappreciated player in the Dirk Kuyt mould, in that he doesn’t rest on his ability to score and create, but to contest, defend and pressure. 

    Mauri’s presence in the midfield allows a genius like Hernanes to operate more freely. 

    If Mauri and Hernanes are fully fit then Lazio will be dark horses for the Europa League next season, assuming they’ll contend for it. 

14. John Terry

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    Age: 30

    Club: Chelsea

    Position: Centre back

    On the pitch, John Terry has been a leader, he has consistently displayed brave performances week in, week out and he deserves the estimated £150 000 a week salary for which he negotiated. 

    With an inexperienced and sometimes liable centre back partner in David Luiz, Terry has done his best to help cover Luiz. 

    That being said, Terry’s season has been blighted with the controversy of cheating on his wife with former Chelsea and England international teammate Wayne Bridge’s then girlfriend. 

    As distasteful as it is, what Terry does off the field hasn’t impacted his performances for Chelsea, and he’ll continue to be a stalwart for new manager André Villas-Boas.

13. Andrea Cossu

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    Age: 31

    Club: Cagliari

    Position: Attacking midfielder/Right winger/Left winger 

    Andrea Cossu has been one of my favourite players to watch, and I’ve described him as a poor man’s Andrés Iniesta, which isn’t meant to be degrading at all. 

    If anything, it’s to show how similar Cossu’s playing style is to Iniesta, except for the fact that Iniesta is world class whereas Cossu isn’t and probably won’t be. 

    Throughout the season, he has invigorated Cagliari with some excellent performances.

12. Dirk Kuyt

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    Age: 30

    Club: Liverpool

    Position: Right sided midfielder/Centre forward

    For periods of the season Dirk Kuyt played as a centre forward and impressed, scoring a hat-trick against Manchester United, but I still think he adds more value on the right side of midfield. 

    I do wonder how much inspiration then Inter Milan manager José Mourinho took in deploying a stronger, faster and more talented Samuel Eto’o in the role Kuyt played for Liverpool under former manager Rafael Benítez. 

    Not only does Kuyt score and provide, but he does the dirty work in tracking back, in pressuring, in challenging and defending—none of which are measured by statistics. 

11. Dimitar Berbatov

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    Age: 30

    Club: Manchester United

    Position: Centre forward 

    Dimitar Berbatov scored 20 goals this season, yet the debate isn’t about how important he is to Manchester United, rather for which club is he going to leave? 

    This is a perfect example of when a player who isn’t a complete footballer in terms of attack and defence, becomes a liability in the eyes of the manager, in this case, Sir Alex Ferguson. 

    Berbatov sometimes doesn’t look interested. He is lazy, he doesn’t track back and he just offers no attempts in trying to become a more complete footballer. 

    Yet what he does offer is magic—he is a genius. You can teach defence, but you can’t teach what Berbatov can do.

    I don’t think there is a future for Berbatov, and right now, Ferguson needs him as an option as opposed to being an important first team player.

    So if I were Berbatov, I’d try to force a move away. 

10. Marco Di Vaio

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    Age: 34

    Club: Bologna

    Position: Centre forward

    Marco Di Vaio’s career seemed down and out after an unsuccessful stint at Monaco, where he was pushed out of a position by a then 19-year-old Jérémy Menez. 

    Di Vaio has resurrected his career at Bologna, and in a way, he needs them as much as they need him. 

    There is no doubt that without his 19 goals—yes, 19 goals for a relegation battling club—that Bologna would be playing in Serie B.

9. Didier Drogba

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    Age: 33

    Club: Chelsea

    Position: Centre forward 

    For stretches of the season the battling ram and physicality of Didier Drogba wasn’t there, because it had been drained by malaria.

    Yet he fought back, and had a relatively solid season, scoring 13 goals and providing 15 assists in 45 games. 

    I think he has been the best outfielder at Chelsea this season, and the second best player behind Petr Čech. 

    Drogba is approaching the wrong side of 30, and with new manager André Villas-Boas keen to bring dynamic young Colombian forward Falcao to Stamford Bridge—it could mean au revoir Drogba. 

8. Ricardo Carvalho

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    Age: 33

    Club: Real Madrid

    Position: Centre back

    Ricardo Carvalho is one of those players who gets away with a lot of dirty fouls.  

    Generally his very good positional ability and tenacity allow him to dominate forwards who are stronger, quicker and younger than he is. 

    He has justified manager José Mourinho’s decision to bring him to Real Madrid. 

7. Christian Abbiati

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    Age: 34

    Club: AC Milan

    Position: Goalkeeper 

    In 2008, a horrible preseason for Željko Kalac allowed Christian Abbiati the chance to become number one (finally). He took it with both hands and hasn’t looked back. 

    As promising as Emiliano Viviano has looked, there is no doubt in mind that Abbiati has been the best goalkeeper in the Serie A. 

    For a period of time, he had defenders like Daniele Bonera, Mario Yepes, an aging Gianluca Zambrotta and the mistake prone Luca Antonini in front of him.

    Yet Abbiati still ended up with very good stats—19 goals conceded in 35 games, second best in Europe only behind Helton at Porto who conceded 16 goals in 30 games.  

6. Antonio Di Natale

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    Age: 33

    Club: Udinese

    Position: Centre forward 

    When you watch Udinese, you watch them either because you’re interested in their unorthodox 3-5-2 formation or you want to be entertained by the duo of Alexis Sánchez and Antonio Di Natale.

    Sánchez has enjoyed dancing around frustrated defenders, whilst Di Natale has been just putting the ball in the back of the net, generally because Sánchez has drawn several players to him. 

    It’s no coincidence that when Sánchez began finding his feet, Di Natale began scoring at a rate which makes him a European Golden Shoe contender. 

    The question is, how successful can Di Natale be with life after Sánchez? 

5. Iker Casillas

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    Age: 30

    Club: Real Madrid

    Position: Goalkeeper 

    Aside from the 2-2 draw against AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League group stages, Iker Casillas was generally always solid, dependable and averted Real Madrid from failure when called upon to save a one on one. 

    People often forget there was a time in Casillas’ career when he was as mistake prone as Victor Valdés. Casillas has since moved on from that period, and has established himself not only as the undisputed number one goalkeeper on the Spanish national team, but arguably the best goalkeeper in the world.  

4. Scott Parker

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    Age: 30

    Club: West Ham United

    Position: Defensive midfielder 

    For me, he was the best defensive midfielder in Europe by a country mile. 

    Not only was he so courageous on the pitch, but he also led by example and instilled confidence in a squad threatened with relegation.

    According to Opta, he accumulated a 77 percent success rate in tackling, the highest in the English Premier League. 

    He’ll have no issues finding a new club in the Premier League. 

3. Alex

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    Age: 33

    Club: Fenerbahçe

    Position: Attacking midfielder 

    I find it very interesting that since moving to Fenerbahçe, Alex has been frozen out of the Brazilian national team. 

    Especially during the reign of Dunga of all people, who was playing for Júbilo Iwata in the fledging J-League during the 1998 FIFA World Cup. 

    In the games I’ve seen Alex play, he has been borderline world class and without a doubt, the best player on the pitch. 

    The only thing holding Alex back is that he’d gain more stature if he were playing in a better league. 

    This season, he accumulated some extraordinary statistics by scoring 28 goals and providing 14 assists in 37 games.

2. Samuel Eto'o

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    Age: 30

    Club: Inter Milan

    Position: Centre forward 

    Samuel Eto'o is the most complete forward in the game. 

    Under then manager José Mourinho, he played as a right sided midfielder who was given more defensive than offensive duties, and he played that role brilliantly and with no qualms. He was integral to Inter Milan’s treble winning season, and he still scored 16 goals. 

    This season, he has played in his more familiar forward role, and his 37 goals indicate he hasn’t lost the ability to score prolifically like he did at Barcelona. 

    Though it’s also his 15 assists which just again show how complete of a forward Eto’o is. 

    I wouldn’t blame Inter Milan for mortgaging their short term future by selling Eto’o right now, given that  Manchester City need a forward, especially with want-away Carlos Tévez moaning again. 

1. Xavi

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    Age: 31

    Club: Barcelona

    Position: Centre midfielder 

    Shouldn’t be of any surprise. Xavi is just a pleasure to watch, and I’m fortunate to be watching him at his prime. 

    His vision is remarkable, but one aspect many people don't seem to talk about is his work ethic. He covers a lot of ground, and his positional awareness helps Barcelona keep shape even though someone like Dani Alves roams. 

    The only downside to his game is his inability to consistently score from long range. If he had Tino Costa’s uncanny ability of scoring from long range, Xavi would just be almost unstoppable. 

    Though knowing the chances of him scoring from long range are slim, the opposing players should back off and keep very tight to the Barcelona players—Pedro’s goal against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final is a perfect example. Who made the pass?

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