Ronaldo, Zlatan, Raul: What's the best season by a player aged 34 or over?

In the past, a footballer usually entered a period of terminal decline when they hit their 30s.

But that’s certainly not the case these days.

Karim Benzema, 34, and Robert Lewandowski, 33, are currently playing the best football of their distinguished careers, while Cristiano Ronaldo is still going strong at the age of 37.

And then you have Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is still getting regular minutes at Serie A table-toppers AC Milan as a 40-year-old.

So, now that footballers are regularly defying their age, we’ve decided to take look at the best ‘golden oldies’ from yesteryear.

Using the Transfermarkt database, we’ve worked out the player aged 34 or older with the most goal contributions in each completed season starting from 1999/2000.

Just so you’re aware, goals and assists recorded across all competitions while playing for a team in one of Europe’s top 15 leagues at the time have been taken into account in the list below.

So, let’s take a look at our findings…

1999/2000 | John Bosman (AZ Alkmaar) – 24

Goals: 21 | Assists: 3

Newcastle United 2-0 Arsenal Match Reaction (Football Terrace)

2000/2001 | Gheorghe Hagi (Galatasaray) – 31

Goals: 13 | Assists: 18

2001/2002 | Dario Hubner (Piacenza) – 25

Goals: 24 | Assists: 1

2002/2003 | Danny Boffin (Sint-Truiden) – 27

Goals: 13 | Assists: 14

2003/2004 | Stephane Chapuisat (BSC Young Boys) – 45

Goals: 25 | Assists: 20

2004/2005 | Ivica Vastic (Austria Vienna) – 27

Goals: 14 | Assists: 13

2005/2006 | Par Zetterberg (Anderlecht) – 22

Goals: 8 | Assists: 14

2006/2007 | Rivaldo (Olympiakos) – 29

Goals: 17 | Assists: 12

Rivaldo lifts a trophy with Olympiakos
Olympiakos’ Rivaldo from Brazil raises a trophy during celebrations after his team won both the Greek Cup and the League at Piraeus’ Karaiskaki stadium near Athens May 14, 2006. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis

2007/2008 | Ivica Vastic (LASK) – 25

Goals: 13 | Assists: 12

2008/2009 | Ryan Giggs (Manchester United) – 21

Goals: 4 | Assists: 17

2009/2010 | Blaise Nkufo (FC Twente) – 23

Goals: 16 | Assists: 7

2010/2011 | Mauro Lustrinelli (AC Bellinzona) – 21

Goals: 17 | Assists: 4

2011/2012 | Raul Gonzalez (FC Schalke) – 32

Goals: 21 | Assists: 11

2012/2013 | Antonio Di Natale (Udinese) – 32

Goals: 26 | Assists: 6

2013/2014 | Luca Toni (Hellas Verona) – 31

Goals: 20 | Assists: 11

Luca Toni in action for Hellas Verona
MILAN, ITALY – DECEMBER 13: Luca Toni of Hellas Verona FC celebrates after scoring the first goal during the Serie A match betweeen AC Milan and Hellas Verona FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 13, 2015 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

2014/2015 | Luca Toni (Hellas Verona) – 26

Goals: 23 | Assists: 3

2015/2016 | Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao) – 46

Goals: 36 | Assists: 10

2016/2017 | Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United) – 38

Goals: 28 | Assists: 10

2017/2018 | Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria) – 24

Goals: 19 | Assists: 5

2018/2019 | Guillaume Hoarau (BSC Young Boys) – 36

Goals: 30 | Assists: 6

2019/2020 | Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) – 44

Goals: 37 | Assists: 7

2020/2021 | Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) – 40

Goals: 36 | Assists: 4

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates a goal for Juventus
CESENA, ITALY – NOVEMBER 01: Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus celebrates after scoring goal 1-2 during the Serie A match between Spezia Calcio and Juventus at Dino Manuzzi Stadium on November 1, 2020 in Cesena, Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

Unsurprisingly, Ronaldo features twice thanks to his marvellous spell in Turin.

However, what is slightly surprising is the fact that his 2019/2020 campaign is not the best on the list.

The top dog is in fact Bilbao legend Aduriz, with Chapuisat taking the silver medal and Ronaldo having to settle for bronze.

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