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This is World Cup almost certain, will be the end of the international careers for Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo Since long, it has been assumed. Their starlight, however, is so bright that it obscures all of the other farewells to come on the migrant-built Qatari fields.

The tournament will be the end of an entire galaxy. It will, most likely, be the final time Luka Modric, Thiago Silva, Daniel Alves, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Jordi Alba, Ángel Di María, Luis Suárez, Edinson Cavani, Eden Hazard and Antoine Griezmann will grace the grandest stage sports has to offer. Robert Lewandowski, Gareth Bale and others may join them on their valedictory tour.

World This purpose has been served by cups since their inception. They are, in a sense, the forge of greatness.

This is what it looks like in that light. World Cup It is the same as any other. Yet, the sheer numbers seem to suggest something more. These numbers give the impression that one elite will enter the tournament and emerge with another. This is not due to a higher proportion of well-known players at the end their careers than usual. The reason is simple: There are more famous players.

The last 15 years of history will likely be seen through the eyes of Messi and others. RonaldoThe two players who defined it. However, such an interpretation would be too narrow. It is better thought of, instead, as soccer’s first truly global age: an era in which fans across the world could watch almost every second of a player’s career, in which the great and the good encountered one another with unprecedented frequency in the Champions League and came into our homes through video games, a time when rare talent clustered together at a handful of superclubs.

Qatar will see the final bastion of the original generation of players that began and ended their journeys within that ecosystem.