Messi, Ronaldo, De Bruyne, Kante: Who is the best player over 30 in the world?

Messi, Ronaldo, De Bruyne, Kante: Who is the best player over 30 in the world?

There was a time in the not too distant past where once a player hit 30 years of age they were considered to be past their best.

This is no longer the case, though, with almost half of the nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or award having already entered their fourth decade. Players in the modern era are fiercely driven, keeping themselves in such fantastic condition that many are still in their prime as they reach their 30th birthday.

This has been proven by a recent list published by FourFourTwo of the top 30 players in world football aged 30 or over. Featuring some of the biggest names in the global game, these men are still outfoxing opponents more than 10 years their junior – and show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Let’s take a look at their countdown in full…

The top 30 players over 30 in world football – per FourFourTwo

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still performing at a high level for AC Milan aged 40

30. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

29. Luka Modric

28. Kieran Trippier

27. Emil Forsberg

Edinson Cavani after finding the net for Manchester United v Tottenham last month

26. Edinson Cavani

25. Simon Kjaer

24. Marco Reus

23. Wissam Ben Yedder

22. Jamie Vardy

21. Georginio Wijnaldum

Analysis: Despite now being 40, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still delivering for AC Milan in Serie A, recently scoring a belter of a free-kick against Roma

At 36 years old, 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modric is still running the show in the centre of the park for Real Madrid.

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy fulfilled his potential later in his career than most – but continues to climb up the Premier League’s all time leading goalscoring charts at the age of 34.

20. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

19. Jordan Henderson

18. Antoine Griezmann

17. Angel Di Maria

16. Lorenzo Insigne

Michail Antonio has been highly prolific for West Ham in recent seasons

15. Michail Antonio

14. Toni Kroos

13. Kyle Walker

12. Thomas Muller

11. Karim Benzema

Analysis: Captaining Liverpool to both Premier League and Champions League success in recent years, 31-year-old Jordan Henderson has already cemented his legacy at Anfield and remains a vital member of Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Angel Di Maria endured an unhappy 11-month stay at Manchester United during the 2014/15 season, but ever since moving to Paris Saint-Germain, the 33-year-old Frenchman has proven his quality – helping his team to four Ligue 1 titles.

The ever-consistent Karim Benzema continues to notch goals for Real Madrid at an impressive rate. The 31-year-old sits atop of the La Liga top scorers this term with 10 strikes to his credit already. Given his form, it was no surprise to see him make the shortlist for this year’s Ballon d’Or prize. 

10. Manuel Neuer

9. Ilkay Gundogan

8. Roberto Firmino

Cristiano Ronaldo has provided some key goals since returning to Manchester United

7. Cristiano Ronaldo

6. Riyad Mahrez

5. N’Golo Kante

4. Virgil van Dijk

3. Kevin De Bruyne

Lionel Messi is favourite to lift a seventh Ballon d'Or crown later this month

2. Lionel Messi

1. Robert Lewandowski

Analysis: Cristiano Ronaldo being ranked some four places below Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne might not go down well with United fans. 

Even at 36, Ronaldo is an exceptional athlete, whose heroics in the Champions League this season have already saved the Red Devils from almost certain elimination. 

N’Golo Kante was outstanding for Chelsea in the same competition last year as the Blues lifted the trophy. Celebrated for his outstanding defensive acumen, Kante – who turned 30 in March – slots in at number five on the countdown. 



Another who recently celebrated his 30th year is Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk. A colossus at the back for the Reds over the past few seasons, his absence was regularly noticeable when he was absent through injury for much of the 2020/21 campaign. 

The top two in the rankings are also the pair considered most likely to fight it out for this year’s Ballon d’Or prize. Lionel Messi is hotly tipped to claim the award for the seventh time, but he is beaten to the top spot in these rankings by Robert Lewandowski.

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FourFourTwo have made the decision to go with the 33-year-old Bayern Munich striker as their best player on the planet over the age of 30 – and it’s a tough one to argue with too much.

With 150 goals to his name since he said goodbye to his twenties, Lewandowski has been on fire in the Bundesliga, while Messi has struggled for form since trading Barcelona for PSG over the summer. 

Although you can debate the individual placings, there can be no denying that every entry on this list is present on merit. None are playing as though they have one eye on retirement, either.


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