1. John O’SheaSoccer - International Friendly - Republic of Ireland v England - Republic of Ireland Press Conference - Radisson Hotel Source: Martin Rickett
At the very least, O’Shea’s Ireland career is almost certainly over. He will be 37 in April, and with Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark currently the team’s first-choice central defenders, he is unlikely to stick around for a potential last hurrah at Euro 2020. He signed a new one-year contract at Sunderland in the summer and with the club not in with a chance of promotion back to the Premier League, the Waterford native may feel that the end of the season is the appropriate time for him to hang up his boots.
2. Gianluigi Buffon
Buffon has already retired from the Italian national team after their embarrassing failure to reach the 2018 World Cup. He has also said he will retire from club football in 2018, unless Juventus win the Champions League. So it’s safe to assume these next few months will be the last chance for fans to see the goalkeeping legend playing in the flesh, barring the most extraordinary storyline yet in Buffon’s distinguished career.
3. Michael Carrick
Manchester United v Burton Albion - Carabao Cup - Third Round - Old Trafford Source: Tim Goode
The 36-year-old extended his contract to the end of this season back in May. However, with Nemanja Matic excelling in midfield and the English star’s well-documented heart operation last November, it would be a big surprise if he plays on longer than 2018, particularly as he has made just one appearance so far this season, featuring in the club’s 4-1 EFL Cup victory over Burton. It may not be the last of Carrick at Old Trafford, however, with talk of a coaching role in the offing.
4. Wes Hoolahan
Ireland: Republic of Ireland v Denmark - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: Second Leg Source: SIPA USA/PA Images
Hoolahan’s current Norwich contract runs out in the summer and he has not always featured in the club’s starting XI this season. The Dubliner turns 36 in May, and it remains to be seen whether he feels his body can withstand another season in the unforgiving environment of English football or elsewhere.
5. John Terry
Aston Villa v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship - Villa Park Source: EMPICS Sport
Terry signed a one-year deal with Villa in the summer and whether he extends that deal or decides to hang up his boots is very much dependent on whether or not Steve Bruce’s side gain promotion this season. He has had his injury issues this year and recently returned to Chelsea to recuperate. He may well be back at Stamford Bridge again sooner rather than later in a coaching capacity.
6. Santi Cazorla
West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal - Barclays Premier League - The Hawthorns Source: Mike Egerton
Santi Cazorla has only just turned 33, but last appeared for Arsenal in October 2016. The Spanish midfielder has racked up just 11 appearances in the past two seasons, suffering a torrid time with injuries in the process. He would be a big loss to Arsene Wenger’s side, who have struggled to compensate for the influential star’s absence. In 14 months, he has gone under the knife nine times and with his Gunners contract expiring in the summer amid a still uncertain return date, he may well ultimately decide that enough is enough and opt to call it a day in 2018.
7. Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian Schweinsteiger Source: Robin Alam
Winner of the World Cup, the Champions League and countless other trophies, Bastian Schweinsteiger will undoubtedly be remembered as a legend of the game. However, injuries have taken their toll in recent seasons. His move to Man United did not quite work out ultimately, while his future with MLS side Chicago Fire is currently up in the air.
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