Andres Iniesta responds to cheers from the stands after Japanese "2023 Meiji Yasuda J1 League" match between Vissel Kobe 1-1 Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo at the NOEVIR Stadium Kobe in Kobe, Japan.

5 big-name footballers considering retirement in 2023: Iniesta, Hazard…

Former Barcelona, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United stars are among those thought to be considering retirement from professional football in 2023.

Some footballers like Roque Santa Cruz are still going strong in their forties, but others like Cesc Fabregas and Mesut Ozil have decided to call it quits in recent months.

We’ve taken a look at five big-name footballers that are weighing up whether to hang up their boots or not.

Andres Iniesta

After spending the last five years in Japan, Iniesta announced his departure from Vissel Kobe after citing a lack of playing time as the reason behind his decision.

The World Cup and European Championship winner will turn 40 next May and the thought of ending his career has surely crossed his mind.

“I have to tell you the truth, I don’t know,” Iniesta said when asked which club he will be playing for next.

“I want to keep playing football. I feel like I am capable of still playing. But as this chapter closes, we’ll see what’s possible. I want to finish my career on the pitch playing, and this is what I’m hoping to do.”

Eden Hazard

Rumours have circulated that Hazard will be retiring from football after his injury-hit spell at Real Madrid ended last month.

Now 32, the former Belgium international is a shadow of the player that illuminated the Premier League at Chelsea and many feel that Hazard should call it a day rather than cause his body any further damage.

After attending Belgium’s European Championship qualifier against Austria, Hazard spoke about his future to RTBF and said: “My future? Honestly, I don’t know yet.

“After three complicated years, I just want to spend time with my family, go on vacation, like everyone. We’ve read a lot of stuff in the last few days, and a lot of nonsense.

“I don’t know, we’ll see… I still feel capable of being a professional footballer, but at the same time, I’ve been resting for two or three years. I still have a bit of energy!”

Juan Mata

“I am not sad because it ended, I am happy because it happened,” Mata wrote on Twitter after announcing his departure from Galatasaray.

“To you, Cim Bom fans: I am so proud to be part of this family forever. The atmosphere that you create in our stadium and our away games is second to none, I can tell you that. It ALWAYS feels like we play at home. You are without a doubt one of the best fans in the world.

“Thanks, from the bottom of my heart, for the love you’ve given me and my family everywhere: in the streets, in the stadium, in the training ground… You are unique and essential for the club.

“I wish you all the happy moments that you deserve. I will never forget you!”

It’s unclear whether Mata will remain in the professional game or decide to explore new pastures.

Pepe Reina

Reina will turn 41 at the end of August and has already hinted he’ll retire in the near future.

“Many years have passed, but it is very nice to come back, I think there is no better place to be able to finish and retire from football,” the former Liverpool goalkeeper said upon his return to Villarreal last summer.

“On a sporting level it is an opportunity to continue being at my best. I wanted the return to Spain to be here. My wife has a lot of family and I keep many memories here”.

But Reina takes the Neil Warnock approach to retirement after previously announcing his desire to quit in 2020. Expect to see between the sticks deep into his forties.

Ashley Young

It’s somehow passed us by that Young is 37; in our minds, he’s still a young-ish whipper-snapper who could beat defenders for fun but couldn’t stop a bird sh*tting in his mouth.

But he left Aston Villa at the end of last season, playing 32 times and helping the club qualify for the UEFA Europa Conference League, and is yet to find alternative employment.

Should he join another Premier League club, Young will be one of the oldest players in England’s top flight.

READ NEXT: The 9 players Chelsea signed along with Eden Hazard & how they fared

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the Spanish players with the most PL appearances?