According to Dendir, the question of peak age of soccer players has thus far been answered with only anecdotal and subjective evidence from the game’s players, coaches and executives. His study provides the first systematic, comprehensive and thorough investigation of the issue.
Using statistics from WhoScored.com, Dendir conducted a study using data from fall 2010 to spring 2015 from four major European soccer leagues, including the English Premier League.
Dendir’s findings suggest the average professional soccer player peaks between the ages of 25 and 27, depending on the position they play on the pitch. Goalkeepers were not included in the study.
“In the preferred models, the average forward peaks at 25, whereas the typical defender peaks at 27,” Dendir wrote. “For midfielders, the estimated peak age varies by model but still occurs in the 25–27 age band.”
In line with conventional wisdom, Dendir explained, defenders “experience relatively minimal curvature in the age-performance relationship. Further results show that peak age may vary directly with ability.”
In addition to being of particular interest to fans, coaches and performance analysts, Dendir’s findings could impact the economic decisions team executives make when constructing their squad. “They have to ask, ‘are we paying too much or too little?’ This study can inform executives’ decisions on transfer prices and contract worth and length relative to a player’s age.