The 10 best over-aged players at the Olympics

Carlo Garganese

Euro 2020 and the 2021 Copa America may be over but there is another festival of football on show before the summer is over.

That’s because this past week, both the men and women’s football tournaments at the 2020 Summer Olympics got underway in Tokyo.

And in the men’s editions especially, there are a host of big-name footballers who will be hoping to bring back the gold medal.

Usually, Olympic squads must consist of players under the age of 23, plus three over-age players.

This year, because the Olympics were delayed by a year, all under-age players must be 24 – or born after 1 January 1997.

So who are the best over-age players at the Olympics?

Andre-Pierre Gignac (France)

The giant striker is now 35 but he was named as captain of France’s Olympic squad.

Gignac has spent the last six seasons of his lengthy career playing in Mexico, scoring 149 goals in 261 games for Tigres.

He has not played for the France senior side since finishing runner-up at Euro 2016.

However, he has started the Olympics on fire - scoring four goals in France's first two games. He struck their consolation in their 4-1 defeat to Mexico before hitting a hat-trick in the 4-3 victory over South Africa.

Florian Thauvin (France)

Another Mexico-based star in France’s Olympic squad, Thauvin recently joined Gignac at Tigres.

The 28-year-old is an extravagantly-gifted winger who can produce world-class moments on his day but his inconsistency and fitness has let him down in recent seasons.

He is part of a very strong group of individuals for France at these Olympics.

Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)

Incredibly, Ochoa has been playing for the Mexico senior team for 16 years now.

He has won 114 caps since debuting in 2005, going to four World Cups. He also travelled to the 2004 summer Olympics and returns 17 years later at the age of 36.

Goalkeeper Ochoa is still a big personality in between the sticks.

Chris Wood (New Zealand)

One of New Zealand’s all-time greats, Wood has managed an impressive 25 goals in 58 games for his country.

Still only 29, Wood will be a huge asset for his nation at the Olympics. He scored the winner in the opening game victory against South Korea and found the net also in the 3-2 reverse to Honduras.

The attacker currently plies his trade for Burnley where he has managed a highly respectable 50 goals in four seasons at the club.

Marco Asensio (Spain)

Marcos Asensio, Real Madrid

Marcos Asensio, Real Madrid

Spain have a frighteningly-gifted Olympics squad, with as many as six starters from the team who made it to the semi-finals of Euro 2020.

In addition to this they also boast some outstanding over-age players. Marco Asensio, who failed to make the cut for the Euros, is one of them.

Now 25, Asensio will be hoping a good tournament resurrects a career that has stagnated somewhat in recent years.

And he started the tournament well, prociding the assist for Mikel Oyarzabal's winner in the victory over Australia.

Who is the best over-aged player at the Olympics?

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Dani Ceballos (Spain)

Ceballos has regularly been one of the stars of international youth football, lighting up the European Championships for Spain at Under-19 and Under-21 level on numerous occasions.

Until now, he hasn’t quite transferred that brilliance onto the senior stage – and he never quite made the grade in two years at Arsenal, scoring no Premier League goals.

However, Ceballos remains a wonderfully-talented midfielder who at this level should shine.

Diego Carlos (Brazil)

The 28-year-old has established himself as one of the best centre-backs in La Liga over the last two years.

He has formed a brilliant partnership with French star Jules Kounde, leading Sevilla to a memorable Europa League title in 2020.

Still yet to be capped by the senior Brazil team, he has his chance to stake his claim for a World Cup place next year at these Olympics.

Dani Alves (Brazil)

Dani Alves, Brazil, 2021 Olympics

Dani Alves, Brazil, 2021 Olympics

What more is there to say about Dani Alves? In a glittering career that is now over 20 years old, the Brazilian has won major trophy after major trophy.

One of the very few prestigious titles he hasn’t lifted is the Olympics, so winning in Tokyo at the age of 38 would be a fantastic way for him to finally hang up his international boots.

Don’t bet against him doing just that as this is an exceptional Brazil team.

Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)

Eric Bailly, Man Utd

Eric Bailly, Man Utd

In terms of the qualities and attributes he possesses there can be little doubt that Bailly has everything to be a top defender.

Unfortunately, the Manchester United defender has suffered too many injuries during his time at the club to fulfil his potential.

Hopefully he can demonstrate just how good he is at the 2020 Olympics for a dangerous Ivory Coast side – and in the process send a message to his club given their attempts to sign Raphael Varane.

He kept an impressive clean sheet in the draw with favourites Brazil in matchday two.

Frank Kessie (Ivory Coast)

Kessie was arguably one of the best central midfielders in all of Europe last season, helping Milan back into the Champions League for the first time in seven years.

An enforcer with bull-like strength but also an eye for a pass and goal, Kessie is currently in negotiations with Milan to extend a contract that expires in a year.

Despite not turning 25 until the end of this year, Kessie already has made 300 appearances for club and country in his career.

He scored a brilliant goal in the 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia on matchday one.