Loaded with adjectives like ‘physical’, ‘intense’ and ‘rigorous’, anybody au fait with Premier League rhetoric would be able to deduce the division isn’t kind on the jaded legs of veteran footballers.
It could be for this reason that, of the 6,666 starts made in England’s top-flight this season so far, just 1.86% were made by players aged over 35.
Magnifying this figure further reveals that four men – Chelsea’s John Terry, Everton’s Tim Howard, the American’s fellow goalkeeper Artur Boruc of Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion defender Gareth McAuley – made 78.2% of these starts.
Its clear elder statesmen aren’t well represented in the Premier League, so where can soccer’s senior citizens migrate to in order to enjoy their twilight years?
The results of this study hold all the answers:
Possibly owing to its shorter season and fatigue-eradicating winter break, over-35’s tend to flourish in the Bundesliga.
With just 1.12% of the league starts so far made by players born in or before 1980, Germany boast the lowest percentage of OAPlayers being involved at kick off, but the vets they do select are the most effective.
Scoring at a rate of 0.2 goals and 0.15 assists per game, the Bundesliga-based over-35’s contribute more than their weathered contemporaries in England, Spain, Italy, France and Belgium by quite a margin.
Serie A’s old-timers come closest to matching the goal threat in Germany, with 0.15 strikes and 0.11 set ups per outing. Unsurprisingly, the Scudetto-chasing seniors are the most adept clean sheet keepers, averaging 0.33 shut outs when they take the field to steal a march on the 0.29 recorded by counterparts in Ligue 1.
UEFA coefficients suggest there’s a correlation between the percentage of over-35’s playing in the league and clubs’ success in continental action too.
Veterans have made just 1% of starts in La Liga and the Bundesliga this season, while they’ve made up to 5% in Ligue 1.
The Spanish and German divisions sit first and second in UEFA’s coefficient ranking and are 31/50 and 2/1 to house this year’s Champions League winner as a result, while the French equivalent is way down in fifth.
Hanging onto the third spot they currently cling to is paramount if England wants maximum representation in the Europe’s elite club competition in the future and cutting back on the already-slim stocks of old players may be the solution to ensuring it isn’t lost.