The results of recent studies show that the average professional football player reaches their peak performance between the ages of 25 and 27. The peak age for strikers is 25, while defenders tend to reach their peak at 27. Midfielders' peak age varies depending on the model used, but it is still within the 25-27 age range. It is often said that footballers are at their best between the 27 and 29 years old, and the World Cup statistics confirm this. The graph below shows that players generally reach their peak between 25 and 28, although there are differences depending on the position they play. The data also reveals that players tend to improve significantly when they are 22 or 24 years old.
Goalkeepers are usually the oldest positional group, with a maximum age of 35 or more, and many players who perform well into their thirties. To understand how age affects performance, it is important to first decide on a good metric to measure performance. The aging curve of attacking players shows a tendency for them to throw fewer shots as they age, but to get more and better opportunities and therefore make up the difference. There is an early peak in data around 22 years old due to this, with Ross Barkley, Christian Eriksen, Oscar and Dele Alli being some of the most outstanding players in the Premier League at that age.
Defenders tend to peak at an older age due to the lower physical demand of their position, as well as maintain high performance at an older age. Previous studies had shown that players peaked in their mid-20s, but these findings were largely based on physical attributes (endurance and explosive power) that allowed players to thrive in modern play without focusing exclusively on the most elite level of competition (the UCL). The data also shows that there is a very steep improvement curve from the early 20s to 26s, then a slightly less steep slope from 26 to 30, and a sharp decline after that. Overall, it is clear that football players reach their peak performance between 25 and 28 years old, although there are differences depending on the position they play.
It is also important to consider other factors such as physical attributes and competition level when assessing performance.